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Physical Exams and Teen Sports


What to Expect During a Sports Physical continued...

These include:

  • Asthma
  • Shortness of breath or chest pain during exercise
  • Dizziness or fainting spells
  • High blood pressure
  • Excess fatigue
  • Diabetes
  • Frequent headaches
  • Eating disorders
  • Vision problems (wearing glasses or contact lenses)
  • Epilepsy
  • Past surgeries or injuries (broken bones, fractures, dislocations, or concussions)
  • Heart problems such as a murmur or abnormal heart rhythm
  • Bone, joint, or spine injuries
  • Skin problems
  • Severe allergies such as to food, pollen, or stinging insects
  • Liver or kidney problems
  • Use of certain medications including prescription, over-the-counter, illicit, and herbal medicines
  • A family history of heart problems or sudden death before age 50

The medical history will be followed by a physical exam, in which the health care provider will:

  • Measure height and weight
  • Take pulse rate and blood pressure
  • Check the heart and lungs
  • Check neurological function such as reflexes, coordination, and strength
  • Test your child’s vision and hearing
  • Check the ears, nose, and throat
  • Look at joint flexibility, mobility, spinal alignment, and posture
  • Screen cholesterol, obtain a hemoglobin count, and perform a urinalysis

Girls may also be asked about their period, and whether it's regular. Additional testing such as blood tests, X-rays, or electrocardiogram may be ordered during the sports physical.

Will My Teen Be Able to Play?

At the end of the sports physical, the health care provider will decide whether it's safe for your teen to play the sport. 

The health care provider's decision is based on several factors, including the: 

  • Type of sport and how strenuous it is
  • Position played
  • Level of competition
  • Size of the athlete
  • Use and type of protective equipment
  • Ability to modify the sport to make it safer 

If everything checks out during the sports physical, the health care provider will give the OK to play without any restrictions. Or the health care provider might recommend certain modifications, like using special protective equipment, carrying epinephrine auto injectors for severe insect allergies, or using an inhaler if your teen has asthma. 

It's rare for teens to be barred from playing entirely. Most health conditions won't prevent kids from participating in sports, but sometimes they'll need treatment and a follow-up exam in order to play. 

Finally, remember that even if your teen has a sports physical every season, if it is not a complete physical exam, he should still receive a comprehensive health exam each year. If your teen takes a break from sports one year, make sure they still receive an annual check-up.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on August 06, 2012
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