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Physicals, Physicals, Physicals...

as of 5/9/2017
One of the things I love most about living in Alaska is the level of fitness that abounds.  There are many amazing athletes in this state who participate in sports of all types.  I love to see kids getting involved from an early age!  As we head into the summer, The Children's Clinic is gearing up for "physical season"... that time of year when our patients are coming in for sports physicals, school physicals, camp physicals and routine checkups.  With all of these different terms floating around, it is easy to be confused.

A sports physical is also known as a pre-participation physical exam.  Many sports require that each participant be screened by a medical provider before being allowed to participate.  The purpose is to identify and address conditions that could make it unsafe for your child to participate or increase his or her risk of injury.  While some of these conditions may be obvious (e.g. asthma that gets worse during exercise), others are not (e.g. having a family history of sudden death or certain types of heart disease).  A sports physical should include a thorough medical history, family history and physical exam.  Findings on history or exam may lead to recommendations for additional lab work, x-rays or an EKG.  At the end of this process, the provider will decide if it is safe for your child to participate in the sport and sign off on the required forms.  Ideally, the physical should be performed several weeks before the activity or practices will start, so that issues which may arise can be addressed before the patient is cleared to participate.

While it may be tempting to visit a walk-in clinic or have your child's sports physical performed at school or the practice field, a sports physical is NOT designed to take the place of a comprehensive, annual exam.  As pediatricians, we recommend that children receive regular preventive care at a "medical home," where your doctor can get to know your family, follow your child's growth and development over time and screen for other serious conditions that may not be addressed during a sports physical (e.g. depression, substance use, menstrual problems).  For this reason, we perform a comprehensive physical every time a physical is needed and include a sports physical as part of this exam.  We love getting to know our patients and families, developing long-term relationships with them and providing the best medical care possible.  The best way to do this is over time, with access to all of your child's health information, so we can look at the big picture and not just a snapshot in time.

We look forward to seeing you soon!  In the meantime, play hard and stay healthy : )

Jeanette Legenza, MD

Is Your Child Sick?TM

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