Sports physicals, also called a pre-participation exam (PPE), help determine whether it’s safe for a child or adolescent to participate in physical activity. Most schools require a sports physical, and some schools offer it to their students. But even if a PPE isn’t required, it is still highly recommended for young athletes to have one completed.\nHere are the top reasons why it’s important for your child to get a sports physical:\n\nMaximize safe participation in physical activity\nIdentify any life threatening medical conditions such as certain heart conditions\nIdentify conditions that may limit participation such as a recent concussion\nIdentify conditions that require a treatment plan, such as uncontrolled blood pressure, eating disorders or certain lung conditions\nIdentifying and fully rehabilitating old musculoskeletal injuries, as previous injury is the strongest predictor of a future sports injury. Proper rehabilitation can lead to lower injury rates.\nRemove unnecessary restrictions on participation in sports\nAdvise children and adolescents which sports would be appropriate for them to participate in\nAllows the doctor time to discuss important issues such as healthy eating habits, avoidance of drugs or alcohol, and the importance of wearing seat belts and helmets\n\nDuring sports physicals, the physician will address conditions that may restrict athletic participation. These include the following:\n\nKnee instability\nFemur fracture\nElbow dislocation\nIrregular heart beat\nAbdominal mass\nFever: Children and adolescents with fever should be restricted from participation as fever may accompany other infections that may make exercise dangerous. Fever also increases the risk of heat illness.\n\nComponents of the Sports Physical Exam\n\nMedical history\nInjury history\nCardiovascular history\nVital signs\nGeneral Exam\n\nGetting a PPE once a year before the school year begins is recommended. The sports physical should be completed about 6 weeks prior to the athletic season to allow enough time to follow up on any health issues that may be identified during the physical. Even if the physical doesn’t detect any health problems, you should seek medical attention if new health problems emerge during the sports season.\nFor $20 discounted sports physicals at Urgent Care, visit www.upmc.com\/urgentcare.