Recently, on our practice’s Facebook page, we posted an update reminding parents to schedule their sports physicals.
A parent jumped on and asked what goes into a sports physicals. He mentioned that in the past, his kids' sports physical only consisted of a height and weight.
Dr. Betancourt responded to the inquiry that gave some insight as to what a sport physical entails. Below is her reply:
Sport participation examination should be lots more than measuring weight and height. During sport participation we make our best attempt to identify potential risk factors that can affect a student performance. We do this by obtaining a thorough history --both personal and family history -- and a complete examination.
It is not unusual to find a significant family history event such as an early death in family members. This prompts the pediatrician to refer the student for a complete cardiac evaluation and a "cardiology clearance" ought to be issued before participation is permitted.
Some physical findings can be clues of genetic syndromes that involve cardiac and great vessel disease, like Marfan Syndrome (very tall kids, look perfect for basketball!!!). Also, during this evaluation, the doctor should make sure that complete rehabilitation has been completed from previous injuries so the athlete does not injure him/herself more.
There is not, to the date, a formal recommendation to routinely perform an EKG or an echocardiogram to all students, but it is left to the discretion of the doctor to perform it if there is a cardiac risk factor identified.
But, with any test, there is a percentage of normal patients with no identified risk factors that can still have a potentially life threatening condition not caught by the "sport participation" exam... just like a stress test may bring up symptoms of coronary disease, but a normal stress test would not guarantee the patient would not still have an ongoing ischemic disease.
Oh, and I almost forgot! We also update the student immunization and talk about avoidance of risky behaviors.
All in all I think it is very worth it!