Athletes view the necessity of having a physical as more of a nuisance than anything else. However, the importance of having one done to check for possible health issues outweighs the inconvenience. In Wisconsin, it is required that teenagers have a sports physical every two years and while a sports physical isn’t required every year, most doctors will tell any athlete that it’s vital to get one each year to see if anything has changed.
A sports physical includes a medical history exam and the actual physical exam.
The Medical Exam
The doctor will go over an athlete’s family medical history and see if there are any red flags to worry about. Here are some typical topics they will look into:
- Serious family illnesses
- Illnesses an athlete had when they were younger
- Any previous hospitalizations or surgeries
- Allergies, asthma, diabetes or epilepsy
- Past injuries – anything from sprains to broken bones
- Any concussion history
- Any medications that are being taken
Medical history questions are usually filled out in a form and brought to the doctor’s office the day of the visit. Answering the questions as honestly as possible will help the doctor understand an athlete’s health history.
The typical sports physical usually starts with the doctor doing the following:
- Recording height and weight
- Taking blood pressure and a pulse rate
- Testing vision
- Checking the heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, nose and throat
- Looking at the spine, posture issues, joints, flexibility and overall strength
Exams will mostly be the same for men and women, though different questions will be asked of each gender. Doctors will also ask if the athlete is using any drugs, alcohol, or dietary supplements, or if they are taking any performance enhancers like steroids or weight-loss supplements. If any problems are found, a follow-up exam or more tests will be ordered.
Physicals at Stevens Point Orthopedics
Stevens Point Orthopedics will be offering complimentary sports physicals this summer. Scheduling an appointment during one of these days is a good way to get a head start on the school year. To see this year’s dates, visit our sports physicals page.