Sport pre-participation evaluations

Sport pre-participation evaluations (PPE) or ‘sports physicals’ are common physical exams for athletes of all ages. Ultimately, the goal of these physical examinations is to assure that your young athlete is physically ready and healthy enough to participate in sports activities. While pre-participation evaluations do not prevent serious injury or death, they can detect predisposed illnesses or injuries. Consequently, this aids in preventing further health complications or injuries for your child.

Why are PPE’s important? 

Pre-participation evaluations (PPE’s) for children are so important because they greatly reduce the odds of your child facing a serious injury resulting from the sport they are playing. While we must understand that PPE’s do not prevent your child from ever being injured, we should acknowledge that they assure your child is healthy enough to handle potential injuries as a result of their sport. For instance, if your child suffers from asthma and they play soccer, their pediatrician may want to prescribe them an asthma medication that will help them breathe better when they run. If your child is diagnosed with a medical condition or illness, their pediatrician may also discuss potential risk factors linked to the sport that your child is interested in.

Medical history

All patients who undergo a pre-participation evaluation will have a ‘medical history file’ in which the pediatrician will use to determine clearance. Every patient’s medical history file will include information regarding past:

  • Heart murmurs
  • Exertional symptoms
  • Marfan syndrome symptoms
  • Family history of cardiac illnesses or other diseases
  • Medications
  • Surgeries and/or hospitalizations
  • Previous injuries

*Patients with a history of heart and lung disease, blood disorders, musculoskeletal conditions, history of seizures, and other disorders will often be further evaluated for safety measures. Because sport pre-participation evaluations are based on the type of sport in question and your child’s health condition, it is important to remember that clearance on pre-participation evaluations may look different for every child.

Physical examination assessment 

During your child’s pre-participation evaluation, your child’s pediatrician will typically:

  • Weigh them and measure their height.
  • Take their blood pressure and heart rate (pulse).
  • Check their vision.
  • Listen to their heart and lungs.
  • Examine their abdomen, nose, ears, and throat.
  • Assess their strength, joints, posture, and flexibility.

When should your child get a PPE?

If your child is interested in playing a sport, chances are they will be required to have a pre-participation evaluation (PPE). Even if your child is not required to have a PPE, it is always a good idea to have one done. Typically, these sports physicals are done once a year and they must be completed roughly six weeks before the sports season so that if they are not cleared, they have time to follow up on their health. If your child is not cleared from a sports physical, do not worry! It could be something simple such as re-examining their blood pressure or following up on an exam. It is not likely that your child will be disqualified from playing a sport because after all, sports physicals are meant to assure your child’s safety while playing a sport, not preventing them from playing a sport.

*Remember: Pre-participation evaluations are NOT a substitute for regular physicals and should not be replaced by a yearly physical of your child’s overall health. Even if your child has been cleared on a PPE, please contact their pediatrician if you notice any health concerns such as; shortness of breath, muscle pain, or if your child has been injured.

At the offices of SuraMed Health Center PA, our priority is to assure your child receives the care they deserve. Please contact us to schedule your child’s pre-participation evaluation today.