Sports

What Is a Sports Physical?

In the sports medicine field, the sports physical exam is known as a preparticipation physical examination(PPE). The exam helps determine whether it’s safe for you to participate in a particular sport. Most states actually require that kids and teens have a sports physical before they can start a new sport or begin a new competitive season. But even if a PPE isn’t required, doctors still highly recommend getting one.

The two main parts to a sports physical are the medical history and the physical exam.

Medical History

This part of the exam includes questions about:

  • serious illnesses among other family members
  • illnesses that you had when you were younger or may have now, such as asthma, diabetes, or epilepsy
  • previous hospitalizations or surgeries
  • allergies (to insect bites, for example)
  • past injuries (including concussions, sprains, or bone fractures)
  • whether you’ve ever passed out, felt dizzy, had chest pain, or had trouble breathing during exercise
  • any medications that you are on (including over-the-counter medications, herbal supplements, and prescription medications)

The medical history questions are usually on a form that you can bring home, so ask your parents to help you fill in the answers. If possible, ask both parents about family medical history.

Looking at patterns of illness in your family is a very good indicator of any potential conditions you may have. Most sports medicine doctors believe the medical history is the most important part of the sports physical exam, so take time to answer the questions carefully. It’s unlikely that any health conditions you have will prevent you from playing sports completely.