Sports Physicals

Sports physicals, also called a pre-participation exams, are needed before athletes can begin competing. The exam usually consists of medical history and a physical exam and can make sure that the athlete is healthy enough to participate.

What happens during a sports physical?

There are 2 components of the physical: the medical history and the physical exam. The history is an important tool in identifying conditions that might affect an individual's ability to participate and/or perform in sports. Issues addressed during the history include:

    Status of immunizations, particularly tetanus.
    History of excessive weight loss or gain. (This can suggest an eating disorder, such as anorexia or crash dieting.)
    History of asthma.
    Family history of serious illnesses.
    Episodes of dizziness or collapse during activity.
    Menstrual history.
    Use of contact lenses or dental appliances.
    History of past conditions such as fractures, concussions, and heat illness.
    Use of drugs, alcohol, dietary supplements, and/or performance enhancing drugs, such as steroids.

The exam might also include an evaluation of musculoskeletal issues such as posture, scoliosis, joint range of motion, knee extension, gait, and function of the arms and legs. An assessment of the athlete's flexibility and endurance might also be conducted. The doctor, a coach, or an athletic trainer might perform this portion of the exam. If the exam reveals nothing abnormal, the doctor will sign a form stating the athlete is cleared to participate in sports.

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