• August 10, 2020

STONE: Sports physicals prevent injuries and save lives - Odessa American: Levi Stone

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STONE: Sports physicals prevent injuries and save lives

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Posted: Sunday, August 2, 2020 4:30 am

Sports may look a little different this year with limited to no fan attendance. And, as schools across Texas are deciding the best ways to proceed, one thing hasn’t changed in regards to student-athletes needing a current sports physical (also known as a pre-participation physical evaluation). These are required to be eligible in participating in school sponsored sports and activities. A sports physical is basically composed of two segments…a medical history portion and a physical examination. And, while the medical history component can be arduous or even mundane, the task of filling out completely…and honestly should never be discounted or overlooked.

Even the most seasoned healthcare practitioner, whether a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant, is only as good as the information they receive and made known about. While a physical exam can identify actual and potential problems, more information is necessary to effectively diagnose, prevent, and treat underlying conditions. This is where the medical history portion of the exam comes in. Ask any healthcare provider and they’ll likely agree the medical history portion is just as, if not more important than the physical exam. Without it, there are simply too many missing pieces to the equation which can lead to missed diagnoses and/or lost opportunities to proactively address conditions that could limit…or even harm your child’s ability to perform.

Therefore, it is very important to review each question, answering it truthfully, and to the best of your knowledge. While all the questions are important, a few really stand out requiring special consideration and attention when answering. Among these questions include a fairly expansion inquiry on cardiac health. The purpose behind this in-depth line of questioning centers around identifying potentially lethal cardiac rhythms and preventing sudden cardiac deaths, that may otherwise go undetected without clues from past medical histories and those they may be hereditary. This line of questioning includes such items as has your child ever passed out during exercise, experienced any chest pain, become easily tired during activities, has a family member been diagnosed with abnormal heart rhythms and or an enlarged heart. Other lines of questioning dig deeper into respiratory health, particularly any known allergies issues such as asthma. Again, take the necessary time to answer these and all questions completely and honestly.

Completion of these forms can be an even bigger challenge in split households. Whether being a single parent, or sharing custody of a child, the reality of getting answers to certain questions may be more difficult to get than others…but should be obtained nonetheless. In these cases, the child may have to work with both parents in order to complete the medical history portion as accurately as possible. While this can delay the exam, it’s best to err on the side of caution and get as much medical history information as they can so practitioners can effectively assess and evaluate these conditions. Relatives of either parent can also serve as a source of getting these answers and should be called upon as necessary to aid in the completion of the sports physical.

On a final note, if you do not understand a particular question, or need clarification...never hesitate to ask your healthcare practitioner to clarify and assist. Medical terminology can be confusing, even when attempts are made to put certain items in more layman’s terms. The sports physical medical history portion can be no different.

Sports physicals definitely have their purpose, but they do have their limitations if not completed correctly, accurately, and with the proper diligence they deserve. From protecting kids from unnecessary injury to initiating proper safeguards for adequate safety, it requires active participation from the parents, kids, and the clinician performing the sports physical exam. This two-way street is only effective if all parties interact and do their respective part to make it worthwhile. If anything, your child’s doctor, with this information, can help make your child a better athlete by offering advice on training, equipment, and lifestyle changes to equip your student athlete for optimal success on the field or court. So when it comes to answering those sports physical questions…honesty is the best policy.

Odessa, TX

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