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The Importance of Annual Sports Physicals

Now that school is in full swing for most of PAMPA-land, families are completing their checklists for the year ahead. The Annual Sports Physical appears on many family agendas. For many of our healthy middle and high school patients, this is one of the rare times they grace us with their presence. At PAMPA we utilize this crucial time to achieve many important goals.

The sports physical consists of reviewing our patient’s interval history and completing a full and functional physical exam. Throughout our training, providers are constantly reminded that the History is as important as the Physical Exam. Completing the Pre-Participation History portion of your athlete’s forms prior to appointment time helps organize important historical facts and expedites the visit.

Discussing and reviewing any new injuries, illnesses or conditions helps to prepare the athlete for a successful sports season. For example, a recurring bothersome “cough” may actually represent Exercise Induced Asthma. Preventative treatment and education will undoubtedly impact performance. Identifying a sprain, strain or seemingly minor injury prior to training and play can prevent more serious injuries during the athlete’s season. Early evaluation and diagnosis provides an opportunity to make any necessary referrals to specialists and time to rehabilitate prior to the season start. 

Reviewing the Family History may reveal a predisposition for complications or potential for injury. Common concerns regarding cardiac risks, respiratory limitations or musculoskeletal vulnerabilities first come to light after a careful review of family history. This leads to a more focused or direct exam of the system of concern. It is a tremendous gift to your child (and your provider) to be familiar with the Family Medical History.

Often the education that providers share with our patients is better received and more impactful in the context of their chosen sport. This also provides an avenue to discuss other health maintenance concerns for this population. Providers review and discuss appropriate nutrition for general health and athletic endeavors. When patients return yearly for their Annual or Sports physicals, providers can review interval growth and provide encouragement or set goals for the upcoming year. High risk behaviors, including the use of alcohol, drugs (illicit and prescribed), as well as performance enhancing supplements should be reviewed.

During the Physical Exam portion of our athlete’s visit, the provider evaluates the status and function of all major body systems. Vital signs including height, weight, pulse and blood pressure are important screening data. This preliminary information can be the first indication of potential health concerns.

Completing the Sports Physical in a timely fashion allows a window to address any abnormalities or concerns before the athlete’s season begins. Diagnosis, treatment, and potential referrals can delay clearance for participation. For this reason, the providers at PAMPA encourage scheduling and preparing for your child’s yearly exam. All parties- athlete, parents, and your provider -desire to be a part of a Winning Team!

Written by Dr. Stephanie Hassel
On behalf of PAMPA


© 2011 Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
PAMPA is a pediatric medical practice in north Atlanta, Georgia consisting of twelve pediatricians, five nurses,
and four locations in Roswell, Woodstock, Atlanta, and Marietta. area.
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