Physical Exams

Physical for School

Schools often require physicals before children attend school for the first time, or before starting a sport. These physicals often include two parts: the medical history, and physical examination.  

Medical History 

Knowing a child’s medical history before entering school or starting a sport is key to identifying potential health problems early. The doctor will ask questions about:

  • Serious illnesses among family members
  • Illnesses the child has had or has now, such as asthma, diabetes or epilepsy
  • Previous hospitalizations or surgeries
  • Allergies (e.g., insect bites)
  • Past injuries (e.g., concussions, sprains or bone fractures)
  • Whether the child has ever passed out, felt dizzy, had chest pain or had trouble breathing during exercise

It’s important to answer any questions about medical history accurately and honestly. Most sports medicine doctors believe the medical history is the most important part of the exam. 

Physical Examination 

The physical exam includes:

  • Height and weight measurements
  • Blood pressure and pulse (heart rate and rhythm) reading
  • Testing vision
  • Checking the heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, nose and throat
  • Evaluating posture, joints, strength and flexibility

In your physical for school the doctor will ask questions about the use of drugs, alcohol or dietary supplements, including steroids or other performance enhancers. 

Some schools require a sport physical to include an electrocardiogram (EKG) for all students. The test takes about 10-minutes and measures the electrical activity of a person’s heart. Electrodes, that measure a person’s heart rate and rhythm, are placed on the chest, arms and legs. Note: EKGs are not painful. 

At the end of the exam, the doctor fills out and signs a form, in some cases recommend a follow-up exam, additional tests or specific treatment for medical problems.