We are nearing the time of year we have kids lining up to do sports physicals. When asked why they are in the office, many simply say: "to get the form signed". I suspect they do not realize the importance of WHY the form must be signed. I view the physical as a time to reinforce good habits: eating well, sleeping adequately, exercising, and making overall good choices.
We review risks that might cause health problems with a sport, such as family history of heart problems or sudden death, as well as a personal history of passing out, chest pain, or concussions.
I have had a handful of patients that knowingly or unknowingly leave out pertinent information on these forms. My two biggest areas of concern are sudden cardiac death and concussion. With both of these the exam might be normal, but the kids are not safe to play and can be cleared for play medically without the examiner knowing a complete history.
If you do not know a family history, as in the case of adoption, please write that on the form.
Please do not omit a previous concussion or injury.
Please do not "forget" that you get dizzy with exercise.
These are important! These questions are often the only clue that there might be a problem, since the physical exam is often NORMAL even with life-threatening conditions.
My son plays hockey. There has been a great awareness in the hockey community about concussions. His club covered the cost of ImPACT testing for all players before the season started. This involves baseline testing to see what each player can do before a head injury to have a comparison. There is high hopes of this testing allowing better return to play guidelines, but its reliability has been questioned by some experts.
Did I take my son for testing? You bet!
Sudden Cardiac Death & Concussion Comments
Some quick well visit tips:
- Yearly well visits are recommended for all children over 3 years of age to review growth, development, safety, nutrition, and more. (They are recommended more frequently prior to that!)
- Most insurance companies only cover ONE well visit per year after 3 years of age. Sports physicals are not considered separately, so if you need the form signed for your high school athlete, plan ahead.
- Well visits are a time to catch up on vaccines... please don't tell your child "no shots" will be done. The vaccine schedule changes yearly, and we might need to give vaccines!
- Visit our website ahead of time to consider questions that should be answered and topics that will be covered.
- To streamline the visit, bring all forms needed to your appointment pre-filled out. This really helps, trust me!
- Register each of your children on our website to get updates and announcements as well as an email reminder before your visit.