The importance of children receiving sports physicals

Summer is a prime time for sports

By Sandra Ali - Anchor/Reporter, Alex J. Rouhandeh

DETROIT - With school out, summer is one of the busiest times for children’s sports.

Parent-coach Quashawn Fields always enjoys getting to watch his 13-year-old son play the sports that he loves. But before he even thinks about sending his son out to the field, Fields makes sure he’s had an annual sports physical.

“My son gets a physical almost every year, just to make sure everything's cool,” Fields said. “We don't want to harm a kid in any way.”

From now until Labor Day is considered the peak time for sports physicals. Though a physical may seem like a fairly standard exam, there are small things that can be overlooked if your child doesn’t go to the proper doctor.

"If your child is having a pre-participation sport exam outside of their pediatrician office, you may be getting a perfectly fine exam, but there's an opportunity for holes if you're not having it done by a pediatrician," pediatric doctor Molly O’Shea said.

A pediatrician is able to identify potential problems in a child that a general doctor may miss.

For example, a general doctor may not know the normal blood pressure guidelines for children. This means that the doctor could have trouble differentiating between healthy and unhealthy heart sounds. O’Shea says other crucial problems can be missed, as well.

“I think frankly, one of the biggest things that is missed in the pre-participation sports exam, that because it's not done as a wellness visit but done strictly for sports, is depression.”

When getting a physical done at a clinic doing mass assessments, screening for signs of depression is something that can be overlooked. But at a pediatric office, depression screening is a major part of the assessment, O’Shea said.

Frank McGeorge, our in-house doctor, agrees with this.

“If you just need a clearance exam to get the form signed -- do it. But, it would not take the place of a thorough exam by your child’s pediatric or primary provider," he said.

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