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Sports Physicals

Why Are Sports Physicals So Important?

Every year, more than 45 million kids participate in sports activities in the United States. However, before they hit the field or the court, it’s important to make sure that your little athlete is okay to play. It’s estimated that around 60% of all sports-related injuries happen during practices rather than games. The top three sports in which most injuries occur are football, basketball and soccer, so making sure a child is ready to play before the big game – particularly for these sports – is very important. Most school districts and athletic leagues across the country and in New Mexico require sports physicals (also called preparticipation physicals) to ensure that all of our children and adolescents remain healthy. Sports physicals are evaluations led by physicians and clinicians at Southwest Care Center to review past injuries, identify anything that might make your child more prone to injury, and review other health issues which might interfere with your child’s ability to play a sport. Southwest Care Center has a well-developed Pediatrics program and can also offer your children top-notch pediatrics care. To make an appointment for a sports physical or with a pediatrician please call (505) 988-8869.

What to Expect at Your Visit for A Sports Physical

Sports physicals at Southwest Care Center are routine, and we perform them regularly at our Alameda Clinic. That being said, we know a visit to the doctor can come with some anxiety or at least some questions about what a patient can expect during their visits. We want you to be as comfortable as possible while you are a guest at our clinics. Below is a description of what a sports physical looks like at Southwest Care Center. When you come to a Southwest Care Center clinic, you will be asked to fill out some paperwork. This can take some extra time but is necessary for us to have the information we need to best serve you. We are very successful at keeping our wait times short and rank in the top 95% of medical clinics on this measure. Once it is time for your visit, a nurse will call you back to one of our exam rooms. The nurse may ask questions and will check your child’s pulse, height, weight, blood pressure, temperature, hearing and vision. When it comes to sports physicals, the exam itself is comprehensive and covers the whole body, as any irregularity can potentially affect an athlete’s health and ability to participate. Athletic preparticipation physicals include a medical exam as well as detailed review of your child’s medical history. If there is a history of medical issues, any concerns or problem areas will be thoroughly examined to ensure that your child is safely able to participate. If there are and concerning exam or history findings, the provider may recommend further testing or specialty consultation in order to ensure your child is healthy enough to participate in their sport of choice. At the end of your visit, don’t forget to request to sign up for our new patient portal. This portal will put you in the driver’s seat when it comes to getting information from your provider and will allow you to receive your labs results and pay your bill online.

Key Areas Your Pediatrician Will Examine

The following is a list of the primary areas that your pediatrician should examine during an athletic preparticipation evaluation: Height and weight: Height and weight measurements reveal growth and development and often reflect your child’s general level of fitness and health. These measurements are particularly useful for evaluating your athlete’s risks for competing at various levels. Some sports, such as wrestling, are classified according to the athlete’s size or weight, and these measurements typically define an athlete’s class. Blood pressure (BP): Although blood pressure measurements don’t typically disqualify anyone from playing sports, many times sports physicals are where any abnormalities are first discovered. Any abnormal blood pressure measurements will be referred for follow-up exams. Vision: Even though visual acuity doesn’t need to be perfect 20/20 to participate in sports, poor vision can greatly affect the player’s performance and increase their likelihood for injury. Skin: Some sports, such as wrestling, do not allow athletes to participate if they have various forms of skin infections or rashes. The pediatricians at Southwest Care Center will counsel the athlete and the parents about treatment/management options. Heart: Our pediatricians will listen to detect any heart murmurs or irregular rhythms. This is typically performed once with the patient seated and again with the patient lying down. Abdomen: The pediatrician will perform an abdominal examination to detect any abnormalities in the organs, such as enlargement or swelling, particularly of the spleen (due to the risk of rupture in contact sports). Genitalia: Some sports physicals require a genital exam. Our pediatricians are aware this part of the exam can be difficult, that’s why they always try to keep the examination as discrete as possible. Musculoskeletal: If the patient has no history of musculoskeletal issues, the evaluation can be brief. For this our pediatrician may:

  • Note the general physique (body habitus)
  • Assess the range of motion of major joints
  • Observe the athlete walking
  • Ask the athlete to touch his or her toes to check for scoliosis

What do I need to bring to a sports physical?

In addition to bringing your child and any relevant health records, a list of medications, and immunization records if you have them. Southwest Care Center also asks that parents remember to bring in the forms required by your school district or sporting league.