Steven Erickson, MD, FACP, specializes in sports and internal medicine and is co-chief of the Banner Concussion Center. For more information on this topic, talk with your doctor or call Dr. Erickson's office at (602) 839-7285.
Question: Why is it important for my children to get physicals prior to the start of their sports season?
Answer: Just as adults should talk with a physician before starting any new exercise program, children need to be evaluated prior to participating in a new sport season. A sports physical, also called a pre-participation physical exam or PPE, helps determine if it’s safe for your child to play a given sport.
During the physical exam, your child’s height, weight, blood pressure and pulse will be recorded. Posture, strength, flexibility and joint function will be evaluated, and your child’s heart, lungs, and abdomen will be examined. Vision will be tested, and the ears, nose and throat will be checked.
Using this information, the provider can address any health concerns that could interfere with your child’s chosen activity, make adjustments to medications, and provide advice on how best to maximize sports performance. An annual PPE also allows providers to educate young athletes about heat illness, supplement use, concussion, and other sports-related health issues.
Another important component of the pre-participation evaluation is baseline concussion testing. Baseline testing is a way to measure normal neurological function. Should the athlete suffer a concussion, that baseline exam can help clinicians follow recovery and aid in return to school and return to play determinations.