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Annual P​​hysical Exams for Student Athletes

​My teens need sports exams. My pediatrician reco​mmends an annual physical. Would that also meet the sports exam requirements?​

"A physical exam performed by their pediatrician should certainly meet requirements for sports participation with the added benefit of assessing other aspects of your teenagers' health and well-being," says Karen Wittenburg, M.D., a board-certified pediatrician at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.

Dr. Wittenburg notes that most schools and youth sports leagues require players to first have a sports-related exam.

“An advantage of having your teens examined by their pediatrician is that this affords a great opportunity to review their past medical history and to assess their growth and development,” she says. “And it’s a good time for them to receive required immunizations and any necessary laboratory studies.”

The physical exam is performed to help ensure that a child or teen is physically fit, explains Dr. Wittenburg. The exam includes checking weight, height, blood pressure, heart rate, and general fitness, as well as addressing any health problems.

The physical is also a great time for your pediatrician to counsel your teens on pertinent lifestyle issues.

“Important topics, such as avoiding drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, can be discussed, as well as the physical changes associated with adolescence,” she says.

Practical issues, such as staying safe on the Internet, may also be addressed.

“The goal of sports physicals is to try to make sure a young athlete is healthy enough for sports participation. A physical exam by a pediatrician should accomplish this,” concludes Dr. Wittenburg.

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Karen Wittenburg, MD

​I’m a pediatrician with strong interests in education and advocacy who values the development of longitudinal relationships with patients and families. My goal is to help children reach their full potential by encouraging the establishment of healthy lifestyles early in childhood. It is truly an honor and privilege to care for children and watch them grow into happy, healthy, and productive adolescents and adults.