FAQ: Back-to-School Physicals and Sports Physicals

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Existing patients can call their Norton Children’s Medical Group pediatrician office to make an appointment or schedule an appointment in their child’s Norton MyChart account.

New patients can find a location nearby and schedule an appointment online. You also may call (502) 629-KIDS (5437), option 3, to schedule an appointment or receive assistance with finding a pediatrician office near you.

Back-to-school is a busy time of year, and while you are getting your child ready to return to the classroom, don’t forget to schedule a check up with their pediatrician. Do you know what type of physical exam your student needs this year? The Norton Children’s Medical Group pediatrician offices can help make sure your child is ready to start the new school year, can participate in sports and has any necessary immunizations.

Here are some answers to common questions parents ask regarding school physical exams and sports physical exams.

Questions About School Physical Exams

A school physical exam involves your child’s pediatrician conducting an assessment of the child’s overall health and development. The pediatrician will check for any new or existing health issues and address any developmental issues that may call for additional interventions or support in the child’s school environment. It also is a time to ensure the child is up to date on any required vaccinations.

Requirements can vary by state or school district, but broadly speaking, school physical exams are required in order for your child to attend school. These exams are necessary for your child’s overall health and well-being, as well as that of classmates and community.

Usually, a school physical is required when a child starts school for the first time (early childhood education, kindergarten, first grade) and again at certain grade levels, such as entering sixth and/or ninth grade. Check with your child’s school district to see how often they need a school physical that is signed off by a pediatrician.

During a school physical, the provider will review your child’s medical history and conduct a physical exam, including screening for any health issues. Immunizations, if necessary, can be given at this time. Your pediatrician also may review vision and hearing, hygiene, mental health, nutrition and more.

An annual well-child checkup can be conducted when a child receives a school physical. However, school physicals may focus on additional screenings that are necessary for participation in school, including vision, hearing, behavioral health and more.

States and school districts require vaccinations in order to enroll in school, and the pediatrician will make sure your child is up to date on immunizations. The pediatrician also will discuss or recommend vaccines against influenza (flu) and COVID-19.

Your child should have their school physical before returning to school in the fall. Talk to your child’s pediatrician and school district about specific recommendations and requirements.

Bring any required school forms to the physical exam, including medical history forms provided by the school, immunization records, and any relevant medical reports or documents that pertain to your child’s health and well-being.

The school district will document that your child has completed their school physical, and the school will have access to the forms that are returned. This information is necessary for the school to make accommodations for any health issues.

Questions About Sports Physical Exams

Sports physicals are mandatory exams intended to make sure your child is healthy enough to play sports. These exams can identify any health issues or injury risks before a child participates in sports or other activities.

Your child likely will have to get a sports physical every year before school starts or before the sports season begins. These physicals can track your child’s development and overall health, which can change year to year as they grow.

A sports physical is similar to a regular checkup but is more focused on physical health. In addition to a physical exam, your child’s pediatrician will review medical history, including any health conditions or previous injuries. They will check vital signs, heart, lungs, abdomen, joints, flexibility, reflexes, strength and more. The pediatrician also will discuss proper nutrition, hydration, safety and injury prevention, and address any questions or concerns.

A sports physical is similar to a regular physical exam, but it focuses on the child’s physical health and ability to participate in sports. Sports physicals often involve extra examination related to athletics, including cardiovascular, muscle and joint health, plus injury prevention.

Your child’s pediatrician can perform sports physicals. They are specially trained to provide care to athletes. Check with your child’s school district to see if any other providers are required to sign off on a sports physical.

It is important to bring any necessary forms provided by the school or sports organization to the sports physical and ensure these documents are signed by the pediatrician upon completion of the exam.

Yes! This is a perfect time to discuss injury risks, prevention and any other questions or concerns you may have.

Your child’s pediatrician will conduct the exam and then determine if any restrictions or limitations on participation are necessary for your child’s health and well-being.

The school or sports organization will document that the sports physical has been completed and will have access to the forms you submit. This allows coaches, staff and medical personnel to be aware of any health issues should an emergency arise.

Norton Children’s Medical Group

Care that’s ‘Just for Kids’

  • We provide well-child checkups, care for minor illnesses and injuries, easy access to specialist care, and licensed clinical pediatric psychologists and social workers to focus on your child’s mental health along with physical development.
  • Most offices offer telehealth appointments for children ages 2 and older. Call your pediatrician’s office to discuss appointment options for conditions such as rash; ADHD, anxiety and depression; developmental concerns related to autism; eye issues; allergies; sunburns and skin issues; and other non-emergencies.
  • Norton Children’s pediatricians work collaboratively with the specialists across the Norton Children’s network so your child benefits from the most experienced pediatric physicians in the area.
  • MyNortonChart and the MyChart app, available through the App Store or Google Play, provide secure access to your child’s lab results, appointments, medications, immunizations and more, including the ability to message your child’s health care provider.
  • Many Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness programs and initiatives are offered in our offices, including car seat checks, education on safe sleep techniques, fluoride applications and more than a dozen food pantries to address food insecurities in children.

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