Soon summer will be upon us, and your child may be needing a sports physical for next school year. But your child normally gets a yearly well child exam. Are both really necessary?
The simple answer is, no. If your child gets a well exam every year, he/she does not need a sports physical.* However, the two are not interchangeable. A well child visit covers everything
that is needed for a sports physical, BUT a sports physical does NOT cover everything recommended for a well child visit.
A sports physical is simply a physical done for the sole purpose of clearing a student athlete for sports. It is nothing more.
A well child exam is important in the following ways:
- Not only is height and weight done at a well child exam, but those mesurements can be compared to measurements from prior well child exams to see how a child/teen is growing. Episodic sport physicals cannot do this.
- Various screening tests are done at a well child check. These can include (but are not limited to): hearing and vision screening; screening for anemia; screening for high cholesterol; and screening for depression and other mental health issues. These generally are not a part of a sports physical.
- Pediatricians attempt to provide some anticipatory guidance on a number of topics that address maintaining a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally. Why? Because well child exams are just that....they promote wellness and preventative care.
- By having your child's pediatrician perform the well child exam (as well as any sick visits), all records are at one location, and can be reviewed for past concerns that may have otherwise been forgotten. Your child's pediatrician can also determine if your child is up to date on his/her vaccines.
Long after your child's sports career is over, maintaining a healthy lifestyle will still be important. Hopefully, your child's regular well visits will have played a big part in helping your child enjoy a lifetime of good health.
* If your child's school requires a sports physical for participation, and your child has already had a well visit with us within the last year, we can complete the paperwork with a form visit. Read more about form visits.