Getting ready for a sports season? Add this to your list

With a new sports season approaching, you’re probably making sure your children have everything they need from equipment to activewear. If you have a student athlete, it’s important to add scheduling a sports physical to your to-do list.

Victoria Eby, DO, a sports medicine specialist and independent member of the HonorHealth Medical Staff, offers a glimpse into what to expect from the exam and other important resources available during the season.

What to expect

The first step is for you, as the parent/guardian, and your child to fill out a comprehensive form. The form contains important screening questions such as previous injuries and medical conditions, heart concerns, eating habits, and any issues with physical activity, as well as a detailed medical history for both the athlete and their family.

The first part of the exam is to have vitals taken and vision checked. Then, the doctor will review the form in detail with the athlete (and parent, if present), as well as perform a physical checkup of the heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, nose and throat, and also looking at strength, flexibility, posture and joints.

“With the form and the exam, we’re looking for abnormalities that might have been undetected and could affect the athlete’s health while playing sports,” explains Dr. Eby. “Our goal is to protect the health and well-being of all of our athletes.”

An HonorHealth patient gets checked out by a doctor

What happens after the exam?

If everything looks good, your child will be cleared for participation. Depending on the school district, a baseline concussion test and/or an EKG may be required.

If the doctor sees any potential risks or issues, additional testing may be needed. For example, if an athlete has a family history of heart-related issues or if the doctor hears a murmur while listening to their heart, they may be sent for an EKG and an echocardiogram. Governing bodies, like the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA), have specific testing and treatment guidelines in place, which will always be followed by the doctor. Other concerns may include untreated or undertreated asthma or high blood pressure. If these conditions are found on the preparticipation physical, they would be treated and monitored.

“It’s important for both the athlete and the parent to be as open and honest as possible when filling out the form and during the exam itself,” shares Dr. Eby. “If a follow-up is needed after the physical, it’s nothing to be scared of, and it doesn’t mean that the student athlete can’t participate. We want to make sure we’re capturing everything that we can to create the safest environment for all athletes.”

Resources during the season

What happens if your child has any changes in their health or an injury occurs during the season?

“The first thing the athlete should do is talk to their athletic trainer,” says Dr. Eby. “If the student athlete’s concerns do not get better with conservative care with the athletic trainer, it’s important to visit a primary care sports medicine doctor who will work with the athletic trainer as part of the healthcare team.”

A primary care sports medicine specialist can help address and manage non-operative musculoskeletal-related injuries. They can also coordinate care if the athlete needs to see a physical therapist or other specialists.

If your child experiences a concussion, the HonorHealth Concussion Program can help ensure they make a full recovery. A concussion specialist sees their patients regularly to guide their recovery and ensure they are getting the resources they need.

Need to get a sports physical?

HonorHealth offers sports physicals at our sports medicine primary care locations and at select HonorHealth Urgent Care locations.

Schedule an appointment