Q. My teen needs a sports physical before he can play sports this fall. Should I go to his pediatrician for this physical?
A: The Missouri State High School Activities Association requires all student athletes receive a sports physical prior to participating in school sports activities. These physical examinations determine whether an athlete is in general good health, assess the athlete's fitness level, evaluate existing injuries of the athlete and detect health conditions which may put the athlete at risk of injury.
I always recommend visiting your child's primary care pediatrician or family physician for a sports physical. Your teen's pediatrician is more likely to deliver a complete physical exam than those offered by your school. He or she knows your teen's personal and family medical history and has access to your child's health records and growth and development trends. Your teen's pediatrician is also prepared to discuss other important health topics with your child, such as nutrition, puberty, immunizations and the avoidance of drugs and alcohol.
A sports physical by a doctor who does not know your child does not replace an annual well child exam. However, you child's pediatrician can combine both to incorporate the elements of a well child exam to best assure that your teen is as healthy and strong as can be to excel at his or her sport.
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