Even though summer has just arrived, parents should start thinking about making a sports physical appointment with their child's primary-care doctor before it's time to go back to school.
While specific school requirements may differ, many require an annual sports physical before a child can participate in sports or physical education classes.
During the exam, a primary care doctor will look closely into three aspects of health: family medical history, current and past medical issues and overall physical health.
It's important for the doctor to explore family medical history, as many diseases and ailments can be genetic. Doctors focus on cardiac issues because these are the most common cause of serious adverse events during sports participation. Often the only identifiable clue to a student or athlete's potential danger is family history. While cardiac disease is the primary focus, other genetic conditions to investigate include sickle cell disease, asthma and diabetes.
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The second aspect of the sports physical includes a patient's medical history. Current medications, diagnoses and allergies are identified. Previous sports injuries, especially overuse injuries or head trauma are discussed.
Last, the physician will complete a physical examination. The physician also will examine the patient's musculature and joint function.
Even a seemingly healthy child should be examined by his or her pediatrician to ensure safe participation in sports and good overall health.