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    Physical Exams and Teen Sports

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    Playing on a community or school sports team is a great way for teens to stay in shape and learn teamwork. That's probably why more than 38 million American children and teenagers play at least one sport.

    No matter which sport your teen plays -- whether it's soccer, football, baseball, track, or martial arts -- there's always a risk of getting hurt. The casualties of teen sports can range from minor sprained ankles and repetitive strains, to more serious conditions like heat stroke or exercise-induced asthma. Some kids have serious allergic reactions to bees and other stinging insects found around playing fields.

    To avoid getting hurt or sick on the field, court, and track, teens need to be prepared. That preparation starts with seeing a health care provider for a sports physical to make sure their bodies are ready for the season ahead.

    Some states won't let young athletes start a season or play a new sport without first having a sports physical. Even if your state doesn't require a sports physical, it's a good idea for every teen who plays a sport to get one to make sure they're in top shape and healthy enough to safely participate.

    What Is a Sports Physical?

    A sports physical -- also known as a pre-participation physical examination -- is a check-up to assess a teen's health and fitness as it relates to a sport. It is not the same as a regular physical. During the sports physical, the health care provider looks for any diseases or injuries that could make it unsafe to participate in sports and reviews the family's medical history to ensure additional tests are performed if necessary.

    Where Is a Sports Physical Done?

    The teen's pediatrician can perform the sports physical. Physician's assistants and nurse practitioners also can do a sports physical and sign the required forms. While sports physicals are offered at 'minute clinics,' such as those inside some drug store chains, they should not take the place of an annual physical exam by your teen's pediatricians.

    Many schools also offer sports physicals. They'll usually set up stations around the gym, where health care providers will perform the different medical tests.

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