Ask the Expert: Why Your Child Needs More Than a Sports Physical


These days we have so much information at our fingertips to help solve any parenting dilemma (admittedly, most of the times we may have too much). You could argue the Internet was both the best and worst thing to ever happen to parenting.Despite the sometimes overwhelming amount of information, it’s still nice to consult a parenting expert once in a while to get some new ideas, advice and even a dose of perspective.

At LiveMom, we want to help answer your questions. We have a recurring feature called Ask the Expert, brought to you by The Austin Diagnostic Clinic, that will take on a wide range of subjects. Do you have a question related to health and well being? Post it below, on our Facebook page or email us and we’ll try to get it answered!

A common question pediatricians are asked is, “Why does my child need an annual pediatric well exam when they just had a school sports physical”?  It is an excellent question, with a very simple answer: The purpose of a school sports physical is to make sure that the child can safely participate in competitive athletic activities at school.  While an annual pediatric well exam consists of discussions about development, growth, academic achievement, safety, puberty, exercise, healthy lifestyles, and many other pertinent topics.  In fact, the annual pediatric well exam can work as a child’s school sports physical.  Under the Affordable Care Act, annual pediatric well exams are covered, so it should not cost your family anything out of pocket.

AdvertisementIt is important for children to have an annual pediatric well exam every year because as children grow, different topics emerge that need to be discussed.  For example, in the elementary school years, we discuss growth, safety, development, school achievement, behavior and healthy lifestyles.  As children move to middle school, we will add puberty to the discussion.  In high school, we include topics relevant to teenagers such as distracted driving, smoking, alcohol, drugs, and sex.  Lastly, at annual well visits, we commonly check vision, hearing, urine and blood work as needed.

At every annual pediatric well exam, we also ensure that every child has the correct vaccines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and you child’s school.  Typically, kids get vaccines at 4 and 5 prior to beginning kindergarten, and then will receive additional vaccines in the preteen years starting at 10.  These vaccines will protect them through high school and beyond.

While chiropractors and family friends who are physicians can sign off on a sports physical, it is generally not recommended by pediatricians.  A chiropractor does not have the proper training in picking up critical cardiac problems that can cause sudden death, and a family friend may not be properly trained in pediatrics to know what to ask and what to check on exam.  Your pediatrician also knows your child and family, and this relationship is valuable to openly discuss personal topics as described above.  Kids are not just little adults and deserve to be treated by a pediatric specialist.


Dr. Christopher Saenz is a pediatrician at ADC’s Steiner Ranch office (5145 FM 620 N, 78732).  He has been a board-certified pediatrician for over 16 years in traditional pediatric office practice and pediatric emergency medicine practice.  From 2003-2011, he served as team physician for the Texas A&M University Athletic Department covering their NCAA sports teams. For more information, or to make an appointment call 512-901-4096.

Catherine Prystup
About Catherine Prystup 2157 Articles
Catherine Prystup founded out of a desire to build a better community for Austin-area moms. She has three children, ages seventeen, eight and three years old.

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