Parents are always busy making sure their kids are ready for their activities, such as school and sports. If your kid is planning to play a sport within the next few months, one of the most important items on your to do list should be to get them a sports physical.
A sports physical, also known as a pre-participation physical examination (PPE), is a medical examination that is required by most schools and sports organizations for children who participate in organized sports. The purpose of a sports physical is to evaluate a child’s physical readiness to participate as well as identify any potential health risks. And if any health risks are found, they may require further evaluation or treatment before your child can participate in their chosen sport.
“Sports physicals are a great way to make sure your child’s injuries from last season or even last year have resolved and won’t be a problem as the next year of participation comes around,” Christopher Malone, DO, an orthopedic sports medicine physician at Mercy Health — Springfield Orthopedics, shares. “It also helps us to identify a child’s issues early, maybe even before they experience symptoms, and allows us to do simple treatments to prevent injuries or long-term discomfort.”
Dr. Malone continues, “on the other hand, an annual wellness exam is a comprehensive medical check-up that’s performed once a year to assess a child’s overall health and development.”
Annual wellness exams include a review of the child’s medical history, physical examination and age-appropriate screenings. These screenings can include things such as hearing and vision tests, immunizations and laboratory tests. The goal of an annual wellness exam is to monitor the child’s growth and development, identify any health concerns early on and provide preventive care as well as counseling to promote healthy habits and lifestyle.
While there may be some overlap between the two types of exams, a sports physical is typically more focused on evaluating a child’s ability to participate in a particular sport, while an annual wellness exam is a more comprehensive look at a child’s overall health.
Dr. Malone adds, “it’s important for parents to make sure that their child receives both types of exams to ensure they stay as healthy as possible.”