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Back-to-school: Time for Sports Physicals


As back-to-school season approaches, one item on many parents’ lists is a sports physical. Though the “to-do lists” can get overwhelming, a sports physical is one item parents shouldn’t rush through checking off.

Sue Karnitis, MD, and Kettering Physician Network pediatrician says, “Sports physicals are actually a big opportunity to have an important preventive well visit.” Dr. Karnitis explains that pediatricians usually see children regularly under the age of six, due to vaccinations, school entry, and daycare requirements. However, once children are school-age, they are less likely to see a pediatrician consistently.

But adolescents’ development can change quickly from year to year. “It’s important to have regular contact with a physician so that conditions don’t go unnoticed,” Dr. Karnitis says. For example, a child could have early signs of scoliosis, but if they don’t have regular primary care visits, the symptoms might not be detected before progressing.   

“Sports physical forms are also getting more specific, and are designed to catch some important things regarding depression, substance abuse, and mental health,” Dr. Karnitis says. “When children have a regular relationship with their doctor, they are more likely to be forthcoming about these issues, and we’re better able to help them.”

The family history form for the sports physical can be long and tedious, but Dr. Karnitis encourages parents to go over it with their children. “It asks so many important questions about family health history,” she says. “These evaluations are essentially certifying that this person is healthy enough to participate in pretty strenuous activity, so you want to be focused and detailed.”

Dr. Karnitis also notes that if you have a young athlete who’s had a regular physical in the last 6-12 months, parents can bring the form in to the office and have it signed without needing to schedule another sports-specific physical.

Call 1-855-870-9749 to schedule your child’s sports physical with a Kettering Physician Network pediatrician.