Did you know that most states have regulations requiring some form of sports physical for school-aged athletes? In fact, schools in the state of Nevada adhere to the guidelines set forth by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA). According to legislation NAC 385B.336, “each pupil who wishes to participate in any sanctioned sport for the first time must submit a physical examination”. Details continue to include that the physical must be completed by a licensed physician, the student must pass the physical, and that sports physicals must be repeated every school year. While this is the case for high school athletes, younger athletes and athletes who play extracurricular sports may also have sports physical requirements. Even in cases where no sports physical is required, they are highly encouraged to ensure that an individual athlete is in proper physical condition to participate in their chosen sport. Since these exams are performed before actually participating in the sport, sports physicals are also known as pre-participation exams (PPE). Here are some reasons why pre-participation exams are required or recommended:
When a student athlete has been playing sports for quite a while, it is very possible that they may have developed some injuries over time. It is likely that these are minor injuries since they did not cause enough pain to be diagnosed immediately. Nevertheless, any old injury has the potential to affect athletes and increases the risk of a repeated or severe injury.
There are certain medical conditions that may limit one’s ability to participate in certain sports. These can include asthma, allergies, concussions, sickle cell anemia, epilepsy, post-concussive syndrome, and high blood pressure. The presence of these conditions may not completely eliminate one from playing sports, but they can affect one’s stamina.
Both old injuries and certain medical conditions can potentially limit your ability to participate in sports. While this does not necessarily mean that you are unable to play a particular sport, it could mean that you need to adhere to a specific warm up routine or take certain medications. In some cases, you may need to treat these conditions before or during the sports season. For example, you may need to get an inhaler if you have asthma or temporarily modify your activity level until our old injury has healed.
For starters actually finding a life threatening condition during a sports physical is extremely rare. In fact only about 10% of sports physicals end up discovering conditions that are possibly life threatening. Nevertheless, an orthopedist or your primary care physician will evaluate your body for signs of potentially life threatening conditions, such as heart disorders. Although this rarely happens, your doctor will advise you against playing a type of sport if they find something potentially life threatening. This is one case where you may not pass a sports physical.
Sports physicals also provide an opportunity for athletes to get professional guidance on how their sport can affect their health. For example, an orthopaedist may provide an athlete with information on common injuries seen in their sport and how to prevent these injuries. In some cases, a less invasive sport may be recommended as a safer alternative. Finally, sports physicals provide your doctor an opportunity to discuss other important factors, such as diet.