What is the difference between a sports physical and a wellness checkup?

By Dr. Sky Izaddoost
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Primary Care
Alon Town Centre

Summer camp time. Sports physical time. Every year, parents flood medical offices for a last minute sports physical so their child can participate in team sports at school or go to summer camp. Most walk-in clinics charge about $50 for a sports physical.  Parents gladly pay the money, not realizing that their insurance covers an annual well-child checkup, which would include the sports physical– without a co-pay in most cases.

What is the difference between the two?  A sports physical is an abbreviated well-child checkup.  The physician or practitioner is only looking for reasons that your child would not be able to participate in sports or go away to summer camp. They check old injuries like previously broken bones to make sure they have healed, determine if chronic medical conditions like asthma should limit play, and screen for conditions that could potentially cause death with exercise like heart conditions.  There is no further management.  The physical exam is also shortened, looking only for conditions that would affect play.

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