A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Use well-child exams to evaluate fitness

Sketches of sports balls on notebook paperWith summer youth sports league and camp sign-ups in full swing, your child may need a sports physical (pre-participation medical history and evaluation) prior to the start of the season or before the first practice.

Having your child’s pediatrician or family medicine provider help complete the evaluation during the annual well-child exam is a good idea, says Dr. Laurel Rudolph, a Marshfield Clinic sports medicine physician.

Your child’s doctor knows your child best

“Pre-participation evaluations focus on your child’s fitness prior to starting a sports season,” Rudolph said. “When this evaluation is done by your child’s primary care provider, who is more familiar with the child’s health history, it’s a chance for a more comprehensive and thorough exam.”

Will my child need a sports physical?

Completing the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) sports physical is required for all students participating in organized sports. WIAA policy requires the evaluation be performed every two years and signed by a licensed physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant. Forms are valid for two calendar years from the date taken and the parent or adult athlete must sign an alternate year form for the second year.

To be valid for the following school year, WIAA evaluations must be completed after April 1. Scheduling your student’s well-child exam in spring, prior to the start of the fall sports season is not too soon.

Tune-up prior to the sports season

“Pre-participation evaluations are intended to help detect student athletes who may be at risk for sudden death because of undiagnosed heart problems,” Rudolph said. “When students do these evaluations during their well-child visits, their provider additionally can review health problems like recurrent sprains and other musculoskeletal complaints, and discuss how to maximize performance with healthy sleep habits and nutrition.”

Well-child exams are good chances to promote overall health and wellness and can help your child develop good healthy habits now, regardless of whether they participate in organized sports beyond high school, said Rudolph.

For students in contact sports, providers also can share information about concussion and and advice about mouth, teeth and eye protection.

Well-child exams always a good idea.

“Habits we develop as kids are usually the habits we have as adults,” Rudolph said. “Our society increasingly has become more sedentary. Even if your child is not participating in organized sports, the well-child exam is a chance to help promote more outside activities and healthy lifestyle changes for a lifetime of better health.”

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