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Don't Forget a Sports Physical
By Dena Nader, M.D.

Dena Nader, M.D.Summer is flying by, and before you know it your kids will be gearing up for fall sports. Sports physicals are largely required by athletic leagues and schools− and for good reason. They raise awareness of any issues that may interfere with your child's ability to participate in a sport. Your healthcare provider can identify areas that may be prone to injury and suggest tips and exercises to avoid future problems. Fortunately, getting your child in for a sports physical before practice starts next week is easier than ever. Many urgent care centers offer a convenient option with extended weekday and weekend hours.

What to Expect
Many parents expect a physical examination, but often forget that a complete medical history is an important component of sports physicals as well. Make sure to come prepared with your child's immunization records, if required, and any relevant information regarding previous hospitalizations or surgeries, illnesses or diseases within the family, medications, past injuries or allergies.

There are also several components to the physical examination. A standard sports physical includes an examination of your child's vitals including blood pressure and pulse, while also documenting weight and height increases as growth spurts can place added stress on joints, muscles and bones. Your child will receive an eye exam and a fitness check of the cardiovascular system, heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, nose and throat. Your healthcare provider should also test your child's joints and flexibility to identify areas susceptible to injury and potentially provide recommendations to avoid injury.

Does my child need a regular physical and sports physical?
Even if your child has received a regular physical, it is important to also receive a sports physical prior to participation in sports or physical activity. General physicals and sports physical are each important as they focus on different areas of your child's health. Sports physicals are more targeted and specifically focus on the physical requirements needed to play a sport. If your child is involved in sports on an on-going basis, it's recommended they receive a sports physical annually.

Dr. Dena Nader is a physician with MedExpress Urgent Care where she also serves as Regional Medical Director for Western Pennsylvania. For more information regarding sports physicals, visit medexpress.com or email Dr. Nader at dander@medexpress.com.

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