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July 7, 2022

Q&A with Dr. Strange: Preparing for Sports Physicals

As the school year approaches and the fall sports season begins, it’s important to get ahead on your child’s sports physicals. Today, board-certified Pediatrician Dr. Kristin Strange from Avance Care Matthews answers all of your top questions on preparing for upcoming sports physicals!

Q: What is a sports physical and why does my child need one?
A: A sports physical (also called a preparticipation physical examination or PPE) is an examination by a health care provider to determine if your child or teen is physically healthy enough to play a certain sport and to screen them for certain health conditions that could hinder performance or cause danger for that athlete.

Please keep in mind, a sports physical alone does not substitute for a yearly wellness exam, so if the sports physical is done as part of a mass sports screening event that is often done with the other athletes by a health care system provided free of charge, please plan on still scheduling an annual wellness exam, or other key components of the wellness check will be missed.


Q: What does a sports physical entail?
A: A sports physical is a screening process through the history form filled out usually by both parent/guardian and athlete to screen for health conditions that could interfere with the performance of the athlete, such as breathing or heart issues.

It also includes a physical examination that may be less involved than a complete physical examination done at an annual well child/teen appointments, and instead mainly focuses on heart, lung, musculoskeletal (orthopedic) and neurological examination.


Q: When is the best time to go get a sports physical?
A: The ideal time to get a sports physical is actually during an annual wellness exam with your child’s primary care provider who knows them best and can also complete any needed labs and vaccines that may be needed. If not able to complete at same time, then the spring or summer before fall/winter sports or during the fall and early winter before the spring sports season, OR before the last sports physical exam form expires.


Q: Do I need to bring anything to my child’s appointment?
A: It is great to bring the correct and updated preparticipation form preferred by the school or athletic department (usually found on the school or school district’s website), filled out completely other than the medical portion for the health care provider to fill out. Also, it is best to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing such as sports shorts for male and females (no zippers, no long sleeves) and tank top or sports bra for the females.

If you are new to that health care provider, then also bring previous vaccine records and medical history records if available, especially if your child has seen a cardiologist or had a cardiac/heart test in the past. Most clinicians also want to know if there has been an interval concussion or orthopedic injury since the last physical, and if another specialist such as an orthopedist or sports medicine doctor cleared that athlete to play his/her sport (bring that report as well if available).

Preventive care and annual wellness checks play a huge role in catching any health issues early and keeping your child as safe as you can for the sports season. Schedule an annual wellness check with one of our Avance Care providers to get a sports physical ready before the season begins!

Set Up an Appointment with Dr. Kristin Strange

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