Squeezing in a Spot? Get your Sports Physical Before the Rush

by Jill Taylor on May 3, 2013

in Healthy Living

Teen-boy-2As the school year comes to a close and families look forward to their summer vacations, you are probably excited to be out of school.

But when summer vacation ends and parents get back into routine, many doctor offices are slammed with families trying to schedule school checkups or sports physicals.

The thought of another school year starting this fall may be the farthest thing from your mind, but here are a few reasons to plan ahead and get your child’s physical early.

Will my Well Child Visit serve also as a Sports Physical?

If you’re the parent who is calling the doctor’s office the day before practice starts, we have news for you. There’s a better way.

Find a pediatric clinic closest to you!

Your child is recommended to be seen every year for a well child visit. At this visit, your primary care doctor will do a full assessment of your child’s needs, including growth, development, immunizations, as well as discuss personal topics such as nutrition, substance abuse, bullying, sexual activity or thoughts of suicide.

The best news for parents is this well child visit can be used to approve your child’s participation in sports. This means your doctor will sign the paperwork for sports participation without another visit, if your child has been seen within a general six-month time frame.

So you can make your well child appointment starting this spring, and you’ll be covered for the sports physical when it comes around in the fall.

Dr. Robert Burke and Dr. Daniel Ransom are pediatricians at McLane Children’s Scott & White and perform well child checks for many children and urge patients to come in early.

“Our focus in primary care is to provide preventative care as well as helping direct a child to the right sport,” says Dr. Burke, who sees patients at the Temple Towne Center Clinic. “It can save that child some significant injuries and being seen can help keep them up-to-date with other health issues.”

Benefits of a Well Child Visit to be used as a Sports Physical:

  • One appointment for all health needs
  • Time with your primary provider who knows you and your family
  • A chance to catch up on important immunizations
  • Ability to discuss options of what sport would fit your child’s growth, interest and prevent risks
  • Instead of excluding from activities, find a fit that the child would enjoy
  • For those with chronic conditions or medication needs, all refills and renewals can be discussed
  • An overall look at your child and opportunity to discuss behavior, nutrition and personal issues
  • Discussion of potential risks involved with a particular sport

Why Do I Need to Worry about my Sports Physical Now?

Many of you have been there—we need a doctor’s signature as soon as possible so our child can go to practice. We make phone calls, desperate to get our child seen by someone.

A few problems if you procrastinate your doctor visit:

  • You risk not being able to be seen in time
  • If you do get in, you may not get to see your regular doctor
  • You may have to make another appointment to update immunizations
  • You put unnecessary stress on yourself or your child
  • You may fail to get complete care, by opting for a quick sports physical somewhere else
  • Most well child exams are covered by insurance but if you procrastinate, you may pay a fee somewhere else for care

“I think it’s ideal for parents and patients to think about their sports requirements throughout the year, says Dr. Burke. “It’s only a once-a-year annual checkup, and that’s usually the best way to have accurate health information that will enable them to receive the care they need.”

If you’d like to get in for your child’s annual checkup, don’t put it off. Pediatricians at the McLane Children’s Clinic in College Station like Dr. Daniel Ransom will be busy this fall as they move to a new hospital and adapt a new computer system.  Slots are bound to fill up quickly.

What About the Sports Physical Day at My Child’s School?

Some schools provide a day set aside to perform sports physicals for those who need them. Although this may seem like a tempting solution, our providers recommend a well child visit with a doctor to ensure all the health needs of your child are met.

One issue with group physicals is some use a station method where one provider checks the heart, one checks the child’s back, and so on. This means there is not a provider looking at the overall health of the child.

“The group physicals at the school do not give a full picture of the health of the patient. We also catch immunizations and other health concerns that may need attention,” says Dr. Ransom.

How Can I Keep My Child Safe During Sports?

“The idea behind the sports physical is to ensure that there are no other health conditions that put the child at greater risk than the sport itself,” says Dr. Burke

If you schedule a visit with your pediatrician, you can discuss your safety concerns with your doctor.

“We answer many questions from parents regarding sport specific health risks, such as concussions, dehydration, and common injuries,” says Dr. Ransom.

For more safety tips, read our article: Five Tips to Protect Your Child from Sports Injuries.

To schedule your well child visit or sports physical, find a pediatric clinic closest to you.

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