Difference Between A School Physical and A Sports Physical

Crunchy red apple and a doctor’s stethoscope

As the rate of COVID-19 infections decreases and school and recreational sports restart here in Illinois, a thorough physical examination is more important that ever before your child begins practice and competition. Here, Dr. Alzein explains why.

Your child needs their school and sports physical to begin practice and conditioning and to attend school again in the fall. Alzein Pediatrics is here for in-person appointments, following the strictest covid-19 precautions, to help your child start school and sports off on the right foot.

What happens at a school physical?

A school physical is also a wellness visit, so by scheduling a school physical, you’re also taking care of your child’s annual healthy check up. At a school physical, we’ll check your child’s:

  • Height and weight
  • Vision
  • Heart, pulse and blood pressure
  • Eyes, ears, nose and throat
  • Posture, joints, spine and bone development
  • Strength, flexibility and muscle development
  • Abdomen, chest and neck

We’ll go over your child’s immunization record and administer any vaccines or boosters needed. We’ll complete any forms your school requires and print out your child’s updated immunization record.

We’ll also talk about nutrition and supplements and any puberty or developmental issues.

We’ll review your child’s and your family’s health history, any medications, and any injuries or unusual symptoms.

What happens at a sports physical?

A sports physical is focused on your child’s heart health, injury potential and family history as it relates to sports. Your Alzein medical provider will screen your child, their health history and your family’s health history for diseases, injuries and illnesses that could require treatment before playing or modifications while participating in sports. We’ll screen your child for:

  • Heart murmur, abnormal rhythm or other heart problems
  • Shortness of breath or chest pain when exercising
  • Liver and kidney problems
  • Epilepsy or seizures
  • Past injuries, concussions or surgeries
  • Bone, joint or spine alignment and mobility
  • Reflexes, coordination and strength
  • Asthma
  • Dizziness, fainting or headaches
  • Severe allergies

We will recommend a concussion screening to get a baseline reading. Every child should have an ImPACT testing before participation, to help assess your child’s recovery before returning to play after a concussion. If your child does suffer a bump or injury to the head, we’ll be able to compare the baseline to subsequent tests to ensure your child has made a full recovery before returning to activity. We may request additional testing, such as blood tests, electrocardiogram or X-rays.

If she’s gone through puberty, we’ll screen your daughter for female athlete triad, a condition involving disordered eating, menstrual irregularity and low bone density. We’ll screen your son for hernias. We’ll also talk to you and your child about prescriptions, over the counter or herbal medications and other supplements. We’ll discuss the need for healthy, proper nutrition.

Why is this more important this year?

COVID-19 has been shown to damage heart muscle, even in young and very healthy children, with no pre-existing conditions. COVID-19 has caused enlarged heart, irregular rhythms and atrial fibrillation, ischemia (poor blood flow) which weakens the heart and more. These conditions, when undetected and untreated, can cause SCD or sudden cardiac death.

Even if your child did not show symptoms of ever having a COVID-19 infection, they could have been infected and sustained damage.

Alzein Pediatrics is now offering COVID-19 antibody testing. This test will determine if your child has had asymptomatic COVID-19. Now more than ever, it’s vital to get a full cardiovascular exam, including an EKG to look for abnormal heart rhythms.

78% of people who have recovered from COVID-19 have heart abnormalities, even when they had mild COVID-19 symptoms or no symptoms at all.

Sports are gearing up and school is right around the corner. Get your child’s physicals scheduled now so you can enjoy the rest of the summer worry-free. If you’d like to complete your child’s school physical and sports physical at the same time, please make sure you let us know when you are making the appointment. We’ll need to schedule extra time to ensure a thorough and complete visit. Just click here or call 708-424-7600 today!

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