With the onset of another school year comes the preparation for extracurricular activities that help engage students in any number of ways. Students interested in playing school sports have additional responsibilities with regard to that preparation, primarily involving having a sports physical conducted by their pediatrician or a medical professional. 

The Difference Between a Sports and School Physical

That task is something that’s required in virtually every school district in the United States and differs considerably from the school physical that other students may undergo prior to starting their classes. In the latter case, such physicals tend to be much more basic and are geared to simply determine if any problems have emerged in their physical development. 

A school physical will also check to see that all pertinent vaccinations are up-to-date and make sure that vital signs remain in the normal range for the student. In contrast, a sports physical involves a much more thorough physical assessment that’s meant to ensure that a student is physically able to handle the rigors of competing in whatever form of athletics they choose.

Protection for All Sides

Undergoing a physical to compete in school sports is a prerequisite in part to protect either the school or athletic entity from litigation if a tragedy occurs at some point during their season. In a number of previous situations, the death of a student-athlete has been the result of a previously undetected physical problem.

To avoid that deadly scenario and to also allow a student-athlete and their family to take a proper course of action, the physical that’s connected to their athletic pursuits will delve more deeply into potential health dangers. The student-athlete will be asked to fill out a questionnaire that focuses on family health history, lifestyle and daily habits.

The Basics


The personal health history of the student-athlete is also explored to determine if they might be otherwise vulnerable to injury or dangerous health concerns. Depending on the scope of the particular athletic physical, a host of possible dangers are checked out, a list that includes such things as heart issues and problems involving the kidney or liver. 

The student-athlete will also be checked for allergies and problems like asthma, diabetes and epilepsy. Meanwhile, those engaged in contact sports may be looked at for bone-related concerns that increase vulnerability to injury or even paralysis. Females will be assessed for potential eating disorders, while tall and thin athletes may be checked for the potentially-deadly Marrfan Syndrome.

More basic examinations related to potential vision problems are also part of this assessment. Also, gender-related tests can involve genital exams for males to check for hernias, while females may be asked more personal questions related to menstruation.

Athletic physicals should be done anywhere from six to eight weeks prior to the start of a particular athletic season. The reason for having this conducted so far in advance is to allow for any follow-up visits when something out of the ordinary is detected. In the case of an injury at the time of the first exam, it will help determine if an athlete has been properly rehabilitated. In the vast majority of cases, the athlete will be cleared to begin practicing.

If your child is going to be competing in school sports, make sure to bring them to Medi-Station Urgent Care for their sports physical. We’ll conduct a thorough exam to ensure that they’re ready to compete. No appointments are necessary and we have convenient hours to fit your schedule. Contact us today at 305-603-0765 for more information,

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