More than 70% of kids between the ages of 6 and 12 participate in team or individual sports. Once they enter high school, almost 8 million teens engage in organized sports.

That’s great news since physical activity comes with the inherent benefits of weight management, reduced health risks, strong bones and muscles, and a longer life. But physical activity can be dangerous if your body’s not prepared.

Most schools and sports organizations require all athletes to undergo a participation physical exam (PPE), also known as a sports physical. But even if yours doesn’t, here at Calvary Urgent Care in Humble, Texas, Dr. Joseph Goin and our team of medical professionals urge every parent to schedule an appointment for their child-athlete. Here’s why.

Think of sports physical exams as protective gear

Heading into your child’s athletic season, things get hectic. Buying new gear, prepping healthy snacks and meals, managing hydration, driving to and from practices and games, and in many cases, coordinating multiple kids’ schedules. Is it really necessary to add sports physicals to your packed schedule?

We know it’s tempting to believe your young, healthy, athletic child doesn’t need a sports physical exam. However, while most athletes are, indeed, fit and healthy, some have underlying deficiencies or health conditions that may get worse or put them at risk for injury if they participate in sports.

To prevent this, it’s essential to undergo a sport-specific physical exam to identify and address any problems. Think of the PPE as part of your child’s protective gear, deflecting potential injuries and serious medical issues.

The benefits of a sports physical exam

Sports physicals are different from a regular checkup. Although there is some overlap, the PPE targets very specific issues that relate to your child’s readiness and ability to participate in a particular sport at a particular skill level. Here are five benefits of the PPE.

1. Checks current health status

Whether your kid plays basketball, softball, tennis, golf, or any of the myriad individual and team sports available to youth these days, they need to be in top condition to perform well. Dr. Goin not only assesses their overall health, he also evaluates the body parts they use most in their sport, including knees, neck, shoulders, back, ankles, and wrists.

If he detects any weaknesses or deformities, he can help correct the problem before the season starts, so they can participate safely.

2. Detects underlying conditions

Many medical problems are asymptomatic, so you may not even know your child is dealing with an issue until they begin competing. At that point, you may be facing injury or illness that could have been avoided.

Dr. Goin methodically checks for unknown, underlying problems, such as high blood pressure, eating disorders, malnutrition, hernias, heart conditions, neurological issues, muscle and joint problems, among other conditions that may get worse with strenuous physical activity.

3. Monitors ongoing health status

If Dr. Goin identifies any medical issues, it’s important to come back for regular checkups so he can keep an eye on the problem and track its progress. If your child has experienced unexplained weight gain or loss, shortness of breath, muscle or joint pain, or any other similar symptoms, we can monitor the progression and let you know when it’s safe to get back in the game.

4. Heads off future health problems

For many kids, the sports physical exam is the only time they see a doctor. Even kids who have a pediatrician may not get regular well-child checkups. In these cases, Dr. Goin becomes the athlete’s primary medical contact. As such, he may discover a burgeoning condition that can be treated and resolved if caught early — think diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma, etc.

For this reason, the PPE is not only essential for the upcoming athletic season, but for health and wellness beyond sports and school.

5. Provides safe sports education

Many athletes and their parents avoid the PPE if possible because they fear they’ll be told they can’t participate. But if your child has a minor physical problem, like a tender knee or stiff back, it doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t play. Dr. Goin can recommend modified workouts that keep them in the game while their problem resolves.

Although it’s uncommon, there are times when a PPE uncovers serious conditions that could be extremely dangerous or even fatal if your child participates in sports, including rare heart conditions, such as long QT syndrome or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or other dangerous conditions, including uncontrolled seizures, sickle cell disease, or concussion.

Give your child every advantage on the court or field this year by ensuring they are healthy inside and out. Schedule a PPE at Calvary Urgent Care — call our friendly staff or book an appointment online today.

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