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Summer is racing by and before we know it children will be heading back to school. Before school starts, many young athletes will start preseason practices for fall sports. Prior to the start of preseason, all young athletes should have a pre-participation physical examination (PPE) or sports physical to ensure they are healthy and ready to return to sports.
The goal of the sports physical is to ensure that your child is healthy enough to participate in the sport that he or she loves. The Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) requires that all athletes have medical clearance to participate in sports prior to the start of each new school year.
Your child’s primary pediatrician or family doctor is often the best place for a yearly physical exam, including a sports physical. Your family doctor knows your child best and already has essential family and past medical history information. If the doctor finds anything concerning during the sports physical, the Pediatric Sports Medicine Team and other specialists at Children’s Hospital Colorado are available for further evaluation.
Ideally, sports physicals should be done 6 weeks prior to the start of preseason practice. This allows time for consultation with specialists if any abnormalities are noted during the exam.
The sports physical exam is similar to a normal well-child check-up with your doctor. This is what you can expect at your child’s visit:
Sports physicals are a great time to not only ask sports-related questions, but also to ask about any questions about the overall health of the child.
After the exam, if the physician feels that the athlete is healthy and safe to participate, he or she will complete a clearance form that the athlete’s family returns to the school. If the young athlete needs further evaluation and other medical tests before they are cleared to play, arrangements for the next steps of the evaluation will be made. The goal is to get the athlete back to the sport he or she loves as soon as it is safe.
Written by: Dr. Katherine Dahab, Sports Medicine Department, Children’s Hospital Colorado. To schedule an appointment, call 720-777-6600. We are happy to consult with parents or referring providers before a patient is seen at Children’s Colorado.