Preparticipation Physical Evaluation

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, a complete Pre-Participation Physical Exam (better known as a PPE or sports physical) needs to be performed at each new level of participation.

The main objective of sports physicals is to identify medical conditions that may be life threatening (like cardiac conditions, subclinical lung disease, infectious/contagious conditions, etc.) that predispose participants to injury or illness.

Secondary objectives are to:

  • Determine general health
  • Serve as an entry point to the health care system for adolescents
  • Provide an opportunity to initiate discussion on health-related topics

The Preparticipation Physical Evaluation starts with the completion of a history form consisting of questions about the athlete’s medical and family history. This form is reviewed by the pediatrician and then a thorough physical exam is performed.

Sports physicals should be performed by the athlete’s primary care pediatrician in the medical home. This allows for evaluation by a provider who knows the participant personally and is familiar with his/her past and family medical history.

The office setting provides a familiar and private environment which makes it easier to perform an accurate physical exam. Sports physicals provided by the athlete’s own pediatrician allows for more time to discuss confidential health issues and makes it easier to coordinate care with consultants as needed for any follow-up evaluation.

Sports physicals can also be performed as brief, impersonal mass evaluations, usually in the school setting. While this is cheaper, there are many disadvantages to mass sports physicals. Athletes frequently show up to such events by themselves with incomplete or inaccurately completed history forms and parents may be unavailable, which increases the likelihood that life-threatening conditions may be missed. These evaluations are usually performed by providers without a personal knowledge of the athlete or access to his/her medical record, which can lead to missed diagnosis, unnecessary referrals and/or follow-up with the primary care physician to clarify pre-existing medical issues.

For the reasons listed above, the PPE 4th Edition (an advisory document published by the American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends sports physicals be performed in the office setting.

For more information on sports physicals, contact us at:
Pediatric Associates California
7125 N. Chestnut Ave., Suite 101
Fresno, CA 93720
Phone: 559728-4133
www.pedscalifornia.com