Sports / Orthopedic

Does My Child Need an Annual Wellness Exam or a Sports Physical?

Jul 10 2023

With back to school and fall sports around the corner, you may be wondering if your child needs a sports physical, an annual wellness exam or both. But what is the difference between the two?

Sports physicals are designed to measure your child’s readiness to participate in a certain sport.

Also known as pre-participation physical examinations (PPE), sports physicals are usually required by a school or an organized sports group before your child can participate in a sport. The primary objective of a sports physical is to identify any underlying health conditions or potential risks that may hinder a child’s participation in certain physical activities.

During a sports physical, a health care provider will concentrate on evaluating factors that are related to sports performance and injury prevention.

Some of these areas are:

  • Physical exam: Checking your child’s height, weight and blood pressure, to name a few.
  • Evaluation of existing conditions: Reviewing any existing health conditions that could affect participation in sports, such as asthma or allergies.
  • Medical history: Gathering information about past injuries, chronic conditions, surgeries as well as the child’s family medical history.
  • Joint and musculoskeletal assessment: Checking for any existing or potential musculoskeletal issues, flexibility and joint stability.
  • Discussion of safety measures: Educating you as well as your child on injury prevention, proper warm-up techniques and the use of protective gear.

As for annual wellness exams, they are focused on the overall health and development of your child.

An annual wellness exam is a preventive visit with your child’s pediatrician that provides an opportunity for the provider to establish a baseline understanding of your child’s health. It also helps your child’s provider identify any potential health concerns that may require further attention or treatment. Overall, the primary goal of an annual wellness exam is to promote healthy growth and development, monitor vaccinations and address any physical, emotional or behavioral issues that may arise.

So, does your child need an annual wellness exam or a sports physical?

If your child is planning to participate in a fall sport, the answer is both. While both sports physicals and annual wellness exams overlap a bit in that they are concerning the health of your child, both exams serve different purposes.

Sports physicals focus primarily on assessing a child’s readiness for sports participation, while annual wellness exams have a broader scope in addressing the overall health, growth and development of your child. Therefore, make sure your kid is set up for the most success possible by having both exams!

Learn about the primary care and sports medicine services we provide at Bon Secours

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