Sports Physicals vs Well Child Exams

Sports Physicals vs Well Child Exams

Is There a Difference between Sports Physicals and Well Child Exams?  - What parents need to know.

Many students and their parents believe that a Sports Physical is equivalent to a Well Child Exam, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The Sports Physical is designed to clear an athlete for participation in sports while the Well Exam includes much more.

A Sports Physical usually includes a physical examination and a brief discussion of the child’s medical history. What is not included in a sports physical are developmental and immunization histories, long-term health concerns and risk factors, and advice for developing a healthy lifestyle.

A Well Child Exam usually includes a complete history and physical examination (most times, including vision and hearing screening), a discussion of the child’s weight, height and body mass index, nutrition, sleep habits, physical development and activity, risks to health and safety, status of chronic conditions, immunization update, preventive health recommendations, and adolescent issues. There is also the opportunity to discuss the important issue such as avoiding drugs, tobacco and alcohol. It helps develop an open, trusting relationship with the parents and patient so they can turn to the provider with questions or concerns during their child’s development.  

There is also the question of insurance coverage. While Well Child Exam visits are reimbursed by insurance, often times not requiring copay, the Sports Physicals are an out of pocket expense – meaning no insurance claim is made. The sports physical form can be completed during a well child exam, so athletes can get the proper documentation to participate in sports.

In summary, there is no such thing as a quick medical exam or just a simple Sports Physical. Eliminating recommended components of either exam could lead to health issues down the road.

For more information or questions on whether to schedule a Sports Physical or Well Child Exam, contact the Heart of America Johnson Clinic in Rugby at 776.5235, Maddock at 438.2555 or Dunseith at 244.5694.