Doctor Explains Why Routine Sports Physicals Aren’t Enough

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Sports physicals are something every child who’s participated in organized sports has had to go through. Even most of the over 9,000 urgent care centers and walk in medical clinics that see on average 342 patients a week in the U.S. now offer the service. It’s a quick and easy process that involves some routine temperature and measurement taking meant to ensure that the child is healthy enough to safely participate in said sport. Except they might just be too quick and easy, according to a doctors evaluation in the Tennessee newspaper

D. Parnell “Par” Donahue was named Senior Pediatrician of the Year in 2014 by the Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He wrote the article for the Tennessee site after recently seeing a man who had many sports physicals in his life, but never a true health evaluation.

“When he took off his shirt, his chest asymmetry was obvious,” Donahue wrote. “He also had marked scoliosis and it was readily apparent that his right leg was much longer than his left causing him to walk with a limp.”

When Donahue asked if a doctor said anything about it during his sports physicals the 18-year-old man replied that he was never even asked to take off his shirt. “All he did was listen to my heart and run out the room,” he continued.

In his professional opinion a true health evaluation should have four main parts: the first is determining if you’ve been healthy, then if you are currently healthy, and finally if you’re going to stay healthy, and if not, what can be done to change/help that.

Donahue goes into depth about each specific part of a proper health evaluation, but the most important part to note is that it entails much more than a couple of measurements and a check to see if your heart is beating. If you want to know the condition of your body school physicals just won’t cut it.

Urgent care clinics are one alternative to relying on school sports physicals. They are also much cheaper options than going to your primary care physician even though 95% of them are staffed by full-time physicians. Whether it be for a sport or just a regular checkup of you or your child make sure it’s done right next time. Make sure they give you a full health evaluation, not just a worthless physical.

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