Sports physicals can save lives

The new school year is here, and playing in organized sports is a great way for a child to have fun, meet friends and stay fit. Most organized sports require a pre-participation physical examination (PPE) prior to participation. This physical assesses a child’s general health and current fitness level and can detect health conditions requiring immediate attention, such as:

• Medical or orthopedic problems that predispose the child to injuries

• Existing injuries that may impair their ability to perform

• Current size and developmental maturation, and fitness level

• Congenital anomalies that increase risk of injury

• Poor pre-participation conditioning that may increase their risk

The PPE includes a medical history, sport-specific history and physical exam. During the medical history, the doctor will ask about illnesses and injuries the child may have had, such as asthma or a broken leg, medications taken and medical problems that run in the family. If a family member has heart trouble, and the child has passed out, felt dizzy, or experienced chest pain while playing sports, more tests may be needed to rule out any congenital issues.

During the physical exam, the doctor will check height, weight and blood pressure; listen to the heart and lungs; feel the abdomen; examine the ears, nose, throat and vision; and test strength and flexibility. Exercise, diet, potential injuries and other health related issues are discussed.

If a health problem is detected, the doctor can prescribe medication or treatment/therapy that will allow the child to play the sport safely. Exercises or physical therapy may be suggested to help fully recovery from an old injury. Other conditions may be treated with medical intervention, with the child eventually returning to the sport, while some may be redirected to safer sports. Typical reasons for participation disqualification include dizziness with exercise, history of asthma, unfavorable body mass index, high blood pressure, visual defect, a heart murmur, or a musculoskeletal abnormality.

If a child will be playing a sport this season, be sure to make an appointment for a PPE with a doctor. Having a clean bill of health will kick off both the child and parent’s sports season on the right foot.

More information on sports safety can be found under “Health Resources” at www.fallbrookhospital.com. To request a same-day appointment with Dr. Toupin or for information on Fallbrook Healthcare Partners, call (760) 731-8989 or visit www.FallbrookHealthcarePartners.com.

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