3 benefits of a sports physical

It feels like it’s too early to start thinking about next school year, but for student athletes now is the perfect time to make sure you are ready to play come August.

Get a sports physical

Experts at Dayton Children’s Hospital say you should always stick with your child’s primary care pediatrician for this critical exam. “Even if your child is healthy and never had a problem with sports before, the sports physical is not something that should be rushed or done by someone who does not know your child,” says Lora Scott, MD, co-director of sports medicine at Dayton Children’s.

The sports physical serves three main purposes.

1. It identifies old injuries, which are listed in your child’s medical record. The doctor can give advice on preventing that injury from happening again.

2. It allows time to talk about other conditions that could impact performance, like asthma or allergies.

3. It lets a doctor identify any rare conditions that could cause sudden death during exertion. The stories are out there, and they’re always tragic: a child dies during sports and people wonder what could have been done to prevent it. Your pediatrician is trained to spot the “red flags” that could signal a potentially deadly condition. “If your child’s pediatrician finds one of these red flags during a sports physical, they can make safe exercise recommendations while awaiting additional test results to rule out a potentially serious condition,” says Dr. Scott.

While your pediatrician is best, Dayton Children’s Hospital does offer sports physicals, making sure to connect with the student’s primary care doctor to get a full picture of health.

Baseline concussion testing

Concussions can happen in any sport when a child takes a blow to the head. Symptoms range from a headache and confusion to vomiting and seizures. Each child is unique; therefore, having a baseline is helpful in managing a concussion, should one occur. Comparing the pre- and post-concussion test scores can help determine when an athlete is ready to return to normal activities. Dayton Children’s offers free baseline testing on a walk-in basis to children ages 10-21.

Start slowly

“Make sure they ease into a sport they haven’t played in a while, warming up and getting used to the physical activity again,” says Dr. Scott. “Also encourage them to change up their activities, so they aren’t constantly doing the same motions, like throwing a baseball, which can lead to over-use injuries.”

If your child does suffer an injury, it’s important to get it treated immediately. Growing bodies need extra attention and special care so the injury doesn’t lead to lifelong damage.

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This look at a children’s health or safety issue comes from Dayton Children’s Hospital. Email: newsroom@childrensdayton.org.

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