Get Ahead of the Game: Schedule Your Child’s Sports Physical Early
Scheduling a child’s school or sports physical can be a tricky task if put off until the last minute.
What many parents don’t know is that they can schedule these exams now and avoid the push for appointments that comes in August. While local clinics make every attempt to accommodate the demand, each new school year they see a heavy volume of students needing physicals for sports, kindergarten registration, and other periodic check-ups.
The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) requires physicals for students involved in interscholastic athletics. A physical card signed by a physician must be on file at your child’s school before he or she is able to participate in sports practices or events. A physical must be completed no less than every other school year, with April 1 as the earliest date of examination, so exams scheduled now are valid for the following two school years. An athlete’s health is about much more than treating injuries as they arise. It’s also about prevention: helping an athlete optimize their overall health and identifying risk factors so that we can prevent injury with strengthening or other appropriate interventions. A sports pre-participation exam helps to ensure that the athlete is as healthy as possible going into the season, while identifying and treating any medical problems that might limit safe participation, such as asthma or heart disease. The preparticipation exam is also a great opportunity to talk with adolescents and screen for substance abuse problems, mental health issues, and school difficulties.
Sports and other activity screening examinations include a pre-visit questionnaire to be completed by the athlete and parent, which reviews the athlete’s medical and family history. Pre-participation exams are performed by nurse practitioners or physicians, and a physician signs the card to complete the process.
Regardless of participation in sports, all adolescents should be checked every one to two years for routine health screenings and monitoring of growth and puberty. Discussion of risk behaviors that many adolescents encounter is also an important part of these visits and can be a confidential way for adolescents to discuss preventing such risk behaviors. Routine physicals are also important for younger school-aged children, who should have a health supervision visit every one to two years after the age of five. Children and adolescents who use medications on a regular basis or who have medical conditions such as asthma, allergies, or recurrent infections may be need to be seen more often for the best management of their conditions and medications. Lastly, physicals are also a good time for doctors to check your child’s immunization records and ensure that your child is up-to-date to ensure the best protection to keep your child healthy.
Call your pediatrician’s office to schedule a sports physical now and beat the summer rush!