Ensuring that students are healthy enough to compete in school sanctioned sports is an important safety precaution for athletes of all ages. An annual sports physical, also referred to as a pre-participation physical evaluation (PPE) can help to identify any medical issues that could affect a student’s ability to play, conditions that may increase the risk of injury, and in some cases, even expose potentially life-threatening disease.

Each year, student athletes are required to undergo a physical in order to participate in their respective sport. These evaluations are more limited than a regular check-up as they focus on sport-specific movements and areas of the body that are used in the sport being played. Nutrition and safety questions are asked to ensure that the student athlete understands the frequency and amount of food and water they need to consume to meet the demands of their body as they train and compete.

There are two main components to the sports physical; a health history and a physical exam.

During the health history portion, the athlete will typically fill out a form that highlights the key areas of their health. It is very important that the questions are answered honestly and fully so that the doctor has an accurate account and can properly assess the student’s readiness for the season. Even if the question is slightly uncomfortable or requires further explanation, it’s paramount that the doctor knows everything so that he can complete his evaluation. If certain conditions are identified in the student’s past, the doctor can then ask more in-depth questions to gauge fitness.

The second part of the exam is the physical portion. This is when the doctor will take and record vitals such as height, weight, blood pressure, and resting heart rate. The student will perform a vision test and the doctor will examine the heart and lung health with a stethoscope. To make sure the muscle is strong, free of injury, and has proper movement, the doctor will perform a musculoskeletal exam. They will palpate and mobilize bones and joints to test for strength and stability. Finally, a neurological exam will be done to rule out any underlying neurological conditions that may put the student athlete at greater risk of injury.

Sports physicals are an important part of ensuring the safety and well-being of student athletes. Ensure that your child completes this important assessment to identify their readiness for training and competition.