School and Sports Physicals
There are two main parts to a sport physical, the medical history and the physical exam.
Medical History - This part of the exam includes questions about:
- Serious illnesses among family members
- Illnesses that you've had or have now, such as asthma, diabetes or epilepsy
- Previous hospitalizations or surgeries
- Allergies (e.g., insect bites)
- Past injuries (e.g., concussions, sprains or bone fractures)
- Whether you've ever passed out, felt dizzy, had chest pain or had trouble breathing during exercise
The medical history questions are usually on a form that you can bring home, ask your parents to help fill in the answers. If possible, ask both parents about family medical history.
Looking at patterns of illness in your family is an indicator of any potential conditions you may have. It's important that you answer any questions about medical history accurately and honestly, don't try to guess the answers. Most sports medicine doctors believe the medical history is the most important part of the sports physical exam, take time to answer the questions carefully.
Note: In most cases insurance does not pay for camp or sport physicals and will be an out of pocket expense for the patient.
Physical Examination - This part of the exam includes:
- Height and weight
- Blood pressure and pulse (heart rate and rhythm) reading
- Testing vision
- Checking your heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, nose and throat
- Evaluating your posture, joints, strength and flexibility
Although most aspects of the exam are the same for males and females, if a person has started or gone through puberty, the doctor may ask girls and guys different questions.
The doctor asks questions about a person's use of drugs, alcohol or dietary supplements, including steroids or other performance enhancers that affect a person's health.
Some schools require a sport physical to include an electrocardiogram (EKG) for all students. The test takes about 10 minutes and measures the electrical activity of a person's heart. Electrodes, that measure a person's heart rate and rhythm, are placed on the chest, arms and legs.
Note: EKGs are not painful.
At the end of the exam, the doctor fills out and signs a form, in some cases recommend a follow-up exam, additional tests or specific treatment for medical problems.
Why is a sport physical important
A sports physical can help you find out about and deal with health problems that might interfere with your participation in a sport.