Kid’s Sports Exams: The Basics

October 11, 2019 0 Comments
kids sports exam

School is back in session. Let the games begin! But before the games can begin, you have to turn in the medical eligibility form (kids sports exam). So what do you do?

We’ve all been there. At the beginning of the school year, it’s easy to allow the paperwork to pile up, and before you know it, it’s time for sports physicals. You can avoid this extra hassle if you schedule your child’s wellness exam and sports physical for the same appointment.

Even if your child isn’t planning on participating in organized sports at school, it’s still a good idea to get a sport’s physical for children who participate in physically demanding activities like snowboarding, skiing, jogging, climbing, and hiking.

What’s a PPE?

A PPE is a Pre-participation Physical Evaluation is a sports physical. This physical is based on The Pre-participation Physical Evaluation (PPE) Monograph, 5th Edition, which was created as a resource for medical providers to keep athletes safe and healthy while participating in sports.

Where and When Should a PPE Take Place?

Ideally, your child’s primary care provider will perform a PPE during their regular annual check-up. If this is not possible, the PPE should be conducted at least six weeks before the first preseason practice to allow time to evaluate the athlete and treat any medical conditions found during the visit.

Depending on state law, an MD, DO, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant can perform the PPE examination. They will have the clinical training to evaluate and determine the medical eligibility of the athlete on a broad range of health issues.

Why go to your regular pediatrician or healthcare provider for the PPE?

  • Your child’s medical records all in the same place.
  • Pediatricians are trained to identify and treat both medical and bone/joint problems that are commonly seen in children and teenagers who play sports.
  • Pediatricians can ensure your child is caught up on immunizations.
  • If your child is not as active as they should be, your pediatrician can counsel your child on the benefits of physical activity.
  • The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) states that it is best to steer clear of mass screenings done at school or a pharmacy clinic where the medical record and immunizations may not be available for the best care. If something abnormal is found at a mass screening, your child likely will have to visit his primary physician. This may delay sports participation.

What Happens at a PPE?

You will complete a health history form for your child. You can save a lot of time by completing the health history form before the appointment. A separate form is available for children with disabilities.

During the exam, the healthcare provider will complete the PPE physical examination form. This form guides primary care providers in conducting a system-based examination to include the:

  • Cardiovascular system
  • Nervous system
  • Respiratory system
  • Gastrointestinal and urogenital systems
  • General medical conditions
  • Dermatological
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Mental health

The provider will then complete a medical eligibility form and will declare the child medically eligible for sports:

  • Without restrictions
  • Without restriction, but further evaluation needed
  • Listed on the form

The provider may also determine the child is not medically eligible for any sports, pending further evaluation or not medically eligible for any sports.

What Are the Basics the Doctor Looks for During the Exam?

Heart Health

Although rare in athletes, sudden cardiac deaths can occur. The doctor will go over a list of questions about heart health with you and your child. These may include asking:

  • About symptoms that may suggest problems with the heart.
  • The child or parent about any past heart evaluations or whether the child has a history of high blood pressure.
  • About any family history of heart problems or heart disease.

Few children are at risk for heart problems, and most are cleared without restriction. If any red flags do come up, a pediatric cardiologist’s opinion may be required before the child can be cleared to play.

Mental Health

It is not uncommon for children and adolescents to experience concerns with emotional health. Factor in the pressures kids experience in sports and performing arts and the number of kids struggling with:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Perfectionism
  • Stress
  • Attention deficits increases

That is why it is important to have your child evaluated by someone that they trust in a private setting rather than a mass physical— so that healthcare providers can ask sensitive questions to discover any concerns about your child’s mental health and recommend treatments.

Concerns of Female Athletes

Female athletes and performers have unique concerns known as the female athlete triad, which include menstrual health, bone health, and nutrition/calorie intake.

Young females are also at a higher risk than males for certain bone and joint injuries, including ACL tears. The PPE has built-in questions and tests that can lead to treatment and prevention programs that will help keep your daughter safer.

Concerns of Disabled Athletes

Every child deserves the opportunity to compete and participate in sports. For children and teens with physical disabilities such as:

  • Lack of full vision
  • Loss of use of arms or legs
  • Muscle control problems

A careful sports physical can help direct them to activities that are the most appropriate.

Concussions and Head Injuries

A healthcare professional needs to clear athletes with known or possible concussions before returning to sports or exercise activities. Be aware that a child who has had one or more concussions is at a greater risk for more concussions.

Contact Us

Getting the medical eligibility form (kids sports exam) filled out can be as easy as 1-2-3. All you have to do is make an appointment, and we will take care of the rest. Contact us today!


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Kid’s Sports Exams: The Basics
Getting that medical eligibility form filled out can be as easy as 1-2-3. All you have to do is make an appointment and we will take care of the rest.

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