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What a Sports Physical Offers Your Child

Medical care for your child starts virtually at the moment of birth, and you likely have a history with pediatricians and primary care providers, chronicling your child’s development as they get older. And once they reach school age, sports and other participation forms usually begin to arrive home with them. Many activities require sports physicals, which need to be completed by a medical doctor.

As a pediatric specialist, Smita Tandon, MD, of Dr 2 Kids in Fountain Valley, California, regularly performs sports physicals. Requirements for sports physicals can vary by state, school board, or organization, but most sports physicals are similar. They provide a snapshot of your child’s health to ensure their fitness for the sport in question. 

The primary need for physicals

When your child was born, you likely had a whirlwind of medical appointments and checkups through the first few months of their life, including a flurry of vaccinations. Though the frequency usually tapers off, childhood remains a time of continuous change for young bodies.

Sports and play may be the first time in their lives that children are exposed to repetitive strain injuries, and the forces involved in some activities can sometimes be too much for their young limbs.

Annual sports physicals offer a way for Dr. Tandon to evaluate how your child might be affected by their favorite games. She can recommend treatment or activity modifications when the mechanics of movement create negative effects for your child.

For most children, though, sports physicals offer a medical “all clear” for them to play in the upcoming season. This is an added bit of peace of mind for you as a parent. 

What to expect at your child’s physical

Sports are all about movement, so your child should dress in a manner that will allow Dr. Tandon to assess their mobility. There will be a review of the health histories of your child and family, including a discussion of any injuries your child may have had since their last physical, including any aches or pains they may have that you may not necessarily connect with sports activity.

Dr. Tandon will also screen their basic vital signs, including their weight and height, pulse rate, and blood pressure. Dr. Tandon will also perform a musculoskeletal exam to assess their range of motion and strength. A sports physical usually takes less than 30 minutes. 

Not a replacement for regular care

It’s important to note that a sports physical is not the same as an annual exam. Despite this, more than 30% of children and adolescents may only see a doctor at sports physicals. The focus of an annual checkup may seem similar to a sports physical, but things like cognitive assessments and vaccinations aren’t usually addressed during sports physicals.

When an annual exam coincides with an upcoming sports season, it may be possible to combine this with an annual exam, but you’ll need to clear this with Dr. Tandon’s office when you make the appointment.

If your child needs a sports physical or treatment for any injuries they may suffer during the season, Dr. Tandon can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Dr 2 Kids today.

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