Urgent Care Extra is known as a leading walk-in healthcare clinic throughout Arizona, but did you know that we’re also a premier provider of sports physicals as well?
As common as sports physicals are, they’re still somewhat of a mystery to athletes, parents, participants, summer youth camp attendants and more. If you’ve ever played sports, you most likely have visited a primary care physician to get a physical examination. Even non-athletes who attend summer camps are sometimes required to have a sports physical, yet almost everyone that partakes in a sports physical isn’t exactly sure what the examination entails. Not only that, but there are also many misconceptions about:
- Why sports physicals are so important.
- Specific examination techniques (i.e., what is the doctor looking for?).
- How sports physicals are different than regular physicals, if at all.
- What are the main benefits of taking a sports physical?
- And much more.
In order to eliminate some of the confusion surrounding sports physicals, we sat down with Urgent Care Extra’s Chief Medical Officer, Tyrone Hanks, D.O., and asked a variety of questions on the subject. Dr. Hanks’ answers will help provide clarity on some of the most pressing concerns about sports physicals.
The Goal of Sports Physicals
Before we get into the specifics of Dr. Hanks’ discussion, it’s helpful to lay out what a sports physical is designed for. What are the ultimate goals of a sports physical, from an athlete’s perspective? And what about parents, examining physicians, governing athletic associations and more?
Whenever a sports physical is administered, the goal is to determine the answers to different questions. Similar to our interview with Dr. Hanks, a sports physical is supposed to provide answers to these questions (and more):
- Are there any pre-existing conditions that could cause further injury or a medical emergency, if the patient is allowed to participate in a sport or activity?
- How healthy is the subject?
- Is there anything in the patient’s medical history that is cause for concern?
- How does the patient compare to other athletes in their sport, in terms of physical maturity, size, etc.?
- Will any existing injuries or ailments prevent the patient from performing in their chosen sport or activity?
- How thorough was the last sports physical the patient received, and should any previously undetected congenital defects be investigated further?
- Should the patient be referred to a specialist?
- Does the patient’s fitness level make it more probable they’ll suffer a sports injury?
These questions and many more are taken into account with a comprehensive sports physical examination. Once all of the patient’s information is compiled and analyzed by the examining nurses, doctors and other medical professionals, a decision is made on whether or not the athlete (or summer camp participant, contestant, etc.) is cleared to play.
At this point, the goals of a sports physical are fully realized. A sports physical is designed to:
- Weigh risk factors of the patient’s participation in a given sport or activity.
- Safeguard athletes, parents, coaches, teams, trainers and athletic organizations against potentially negative consequences.
- Reveal any risk factors (pre-existing conditions, illness, injuries, etc.) that could jeopardize an athlete or activity participant.
- Provide confirmation (and confidence) that the patient is fully capable of playing to their maximum ability and optimal athletic potential.
Interview with Dr. Tyrone Hanks
It’s always best to get news straight from the source, and Chief Medical Officer Tyrone Hanks, D.O., has conducted hundreds of sports physicals during his professional medical career. Here are some questions we asked, along with Dr. Hanks’ responses.
Q: Why is it important for students to get a sports physical before joining an organized sport?
A: It’s required by all schools in Arizona and helps identify any health condition that could be worsened by competitive sports. The governing body for Arizona high school sports, the Arizona Interscholastic Association, has made it mandatory that all athletes pass a sports physical examination.
Q: Why do most schools and organizations require future athletes to get a sports physical?
A: That’s a good question. Beyond the legal requirements, you have to look at the considerable physical stress that sports place on young athletes. In sports, we tend to push our bodies to their limits. There are health conditions that can be made worse by this kind of activity. Sports physicals are key in preventing this from happening. Plus, Arizona’s hot climate is a much tougher environment to complete in than other states.
Q: Can sports physicals help discover preventative injuries and aliments?
A: Absolutely. This occurs quite often. Many times during a sports physical we encounter illnesses that have not been discovered prior to a sports physical. Two of the more common pre-existing conditions we encounter are vision disturbances and hernias. That’s why sports physicals are so important; we’ve examined many athletes who thought they were 100% healthy, only to discover a condition, illness or previous injury that could cause further damage during a practice or game.
Q: What is the main difference between a sports physical and a general health physical?
A: A sports physical, as well as reviewing medical history, specifically looks for diseases or injuries that could make it unsafe to participate in a sport.
Q: What is the main reason you suggest students and young athletes come in for a sports physical?
A: To keep themselves safe! As parents, we do not ever want to put our kids in harm’s way, and a sports physical is a perfect way to screen for potential problems that may be made worse with participation.
Get Your Sports Physical at Urgent Care Extra
Medical professionals like Dr. Tyrone Hanks are ready to work with you today. If your sport or activity requires a physical, Urgent Care Extra has the resources and expertise to ensure you’re physically able to handle the rigors of the upcoming sports season, summer camp or other activity.
Please visit any of our healthcare clinics today. For more information about sports physicals, or help with any other questions you might have, call us at (480) 988-9108.