A physical examination, medical examination, or clinical examination is the process by which a medical professional investigates the body of a patient for signs of disease.

What Is a Sports Physical?

In the sports medicine field, the sports physical exam is known as a preparticipation physical examination (PPE). The exam helps determine whether it's safe for you to participate in a certain sport. Most states actually require that kids and teens have a sports physical before they can start a new sport or begin a new competitive season. But even if a sports physical isn't required, doctors still highly recommend getting one.

The two main parts to a sports physical are the medical history and the physical exam.

Medical History

This part of the exam includes questions about:

  • Serious illnesses among family members
  • Illnesses that you had when you were younger or may have now, such as asthma, diabetes, or epilepsy previous hospitalizations or surgeries allergies (to insect bites, for example)
  • Past injuries (including concussions, sprains, or bone fractures)
  • Whether you've ever passed out, felt dizzy, had chest pain, or had trouble breathing during exercise any medications that you are on (including over-the-counter medications, herbal supplements, and prescription medications).

The medical history questions are usually on a form that you can bring home, so ask your parents to help you fill in the answers. If possible, ask both parents about family medical history.

Answer the questions as well as you can. Try not to guess the answers or give answers you think your doctor wants.

Looking at patterns of illness in your family is a good way to consider possible conditions you may have. Most sports medicine doctors believe the medical history is the most important part of the sports physical exam, so take time to answer the questions carefully. It's unlikely that your answers will prevent you from playing your sports.

Physical Examination

During the physical part of the exam, the doctor will usually:

record your height and weight take a blood pressure and pulse (heart rate and rhythm) test your vision check your heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, nose, and throat evaluate your posture, joints, strength, and flexibility Although most of the exam will be the same for males and females, if a person has started or already gone through puberty, the doctor may ask girls and guys different questions.

For example, if a girl is heavily involved in a lot of active sports, the doctor may ask her about her period and diet to make sure she doesn't have something like female athlete triad (poor nutrition, irregular or absent periods, and weak bones).

A doctor will also ask questions about use of drugs, alcohol, or dietary supplements, including steroids or other "performance enhancers" and weight-loss supplements, because these can affect a person's health.

At the end of your exam, the doctor will either fill out and sign a form if everything checks out OK or, in some cases, recommend a follow-up exam, additional tests, or specific treatment for medical problems.

Why Is a Sports Physical Important?

A sports physical can help you find out about and deal with health problems that might interfere with your participation in a sport. For example, if you have frequent asthma attacks but are a starting forward in soccer, a doctor might be able to prescribe a different type of inhaler or adjust the dosage so that you can breathe more easily when you run.

Your doctor may even have some good training tips and be able to give you some ideas for avoiding injuries. For example, he or she may recommend certain stretching or strengthening activities, that help prevent injuries. A doctor also can identify risk factors that are linked to specific sports. Advice like this will make you a better, stronger athlete.


What Is a Pre-Employment Physical?

A pre-employment physical is part of the onboarding process for most companies. It involves the potential employee getting a medical exam to ensure that he or she is physically and mentally fit for the job. Usually, companies follow the guidelines provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or the local Department of Health for pre-employment testing.

Companies also review the prospective employee's overall work and medical history. Overall, the pre-employment test ensures that the employee's health complies with his or her future job-related duties, especially if they are physically demanding. Depending on the nature of the job, the pre-employment physical can be a long or short process.

Also known as a pre-placement test or a Human Performance Evaluation (HPE), a pre-employment physical helps companies get an overview of the prospective employee’s overall health status as well as make better choices when it comes to selecting new hires. The physical can also be used for record-keeping based on established metrics. This helps the company track any changes in the employee's health over time.

Types of Pre-employment Tests

General pre-employment physical tests include checking the employee's vital signs. A nurse or other qualified health care professional checks the employee's weight, temperature, pulse, and blood pressure. In addition to the standard physical checks, the nurse or doctor will examine the employee's vision, hearing, cardiovascular and respiratory health, along with reflexes and range of motion.

In addition, the doctor will note anything such as bruises and swelling, and ask questions about how they happened, if known. More questions may follow the physical exam, such as medications taken, behavioral or mood changes, or the employee's ability to handle stress.

Drug Screening Tests

Broken down into categories, types of pre-employment physical exams can include:
  • Hair drug and alcohol screening
  • Sweat drug screening
  • Saliva drug screening
  • Urine drug screening

Before starting at a new workplace, potential employees might be asked to take one of the alcohol and drug tests to ensure competency for the job.

Jobs that are considered high-risk are likely to require drug and alcohol tests, specifically in situations where employees must lift heavy equipment and handle dangerous chemicals. Being intoxicated on the job raises the risk of injury to the employee or coworkers. Drug and alcohol tests vary depending on how quickly the employer needs the results.

Most employers from larger companies require its employees to remain drug- and alcohol-free while on the job during the workweek, and these pre-employment drug tests ensure that the potential employee is not addicted. Also, to keep its employees on their toes, so to speak, some companies may administer random drug and alcohol testing to ensure that the workplace remains drug-free.

Also for job seekers in the labor industry, it's best to avoid any drugs or nutritional supplements that cause side effects such as nausea or drowsiness, as operating heavy machinery under the influence can also put everyone in danger in the workplace.

Stamina and Physical Ability Tests

Pre-employment physicals that test energy and stamina are more relevant for jobs involving frequent lifting or other heavy labor. Besides evaluating for energy and stamina, these types of tests also look at strength and flexibility of the potential employee. A physical ability test ensures that a potential employee will be able to withstand the manual labor and other demands of the job. It helps employers to also choose people who are less likely to get hurt while on the job.

Hoping to decrease the chances of injury on the job, companies may request that job seekers be able to lift a certain amount of weight, especially if it's relevant to the job. The premise of a physical ability test is to review for the following:

  • Cardiovascular health
  • Muscular tension
  • Power
  • Balance
  • Flexibility
  • Overall attitude under physical constraints

Moreover, pre-employment exams test a worker on functional tasks such as pushing and pulling, lifting, and carrying heavy loads. For this specific test, an employer may send the worker to a physical therapist, who then creates the test based around the physical demands of the job. The doctor or therapist may also ask questions about family history, lifestyle, diet and exercise to give the employer an overall profile of the employee's health status.

Psychological Tests

Another part of the pre-employment exam involves testing the new employee's mental health. In these tests, a doctor will ask questions and administer several tests to determine psychological well-being and ensure that the employee deals well with handling stress on the job.

Not only are some jobs physically demanding, but they can also be psychologically demanding, so the doctor may conduct other tests or ask questions of the employee ranging from any history of depression or other mood symptoms, to his or her coping techniques for handling pressure. For example, negative habits such as smoking may be seen as unfit for the job, while healthy habits such as taking a walking break may be perceived as a positive fit.

School Physicals

What are Physicals For?

Have you ever wondered why your child needs an annual physical? A lot can change in a child’s or teen’s health within a year’s time. By scheduling an annual physical, you are able to monitor the growth, health and development of your child in addition to safeguarding against potential physical problems that could arise. Explore why an annual exam is beneficial for your child.

Why do Schools Require Back to School Physicals Each Year?

Annual physical requirements vary depending on state and school. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, your child’s yearly exam ensures that he or she is up-to-date on vaccines to protect against serious diseases. Safeguarding your child's health as well as the health of classmates, friends and others in your community is top priority for doctors and school administrators . Keep your child healthy by knowing your state's school vaccination requirements.

Are Well-Child Visits, Physical Exams and Sports Exams the Same Type of Visit?

Each of these annual exams are categorized as preventative care visits. Preventative care visits allow for your child to have a complete examination of his/her growth and development in order to prevent problems. These visits are important to keep children healthy and to focus on what is being done well in addition to changes that can improve your child's wellness.

What is the Difference Between Preventative Care Visits and Sick Visits?

Both types of visit have varying reasons for scheduling the appointment. The primary differences are:

Preventative care visit: In this visit your child will have an in-depth physical review regarding normal development, sleep, nutrition, safety and illnesses that are “going around.” This is a time for you to cover important topics regarding your child's well-being and overall health. Special attention is focused on whether your child is meeting the normal development milestones.

Sick visits: This particular type of visit is when your child has become ill and is showing symptoms. Normally a brief appointment, the focus is on finding the solution to why your child is ill and how to treat his/her symptoms.

What is the Best Time of Year to Schedule My Child’s Physical?

The ideal time to schedule an appointment for your child’s annual physical is before his or her next academic year - think spring and summer before the next school year. Though it varies, documentation will be required for your child to begin the academic year, in addition to sports and activities. Make sure your child is healthy and ready to begin his or her new adventure by scheduling an appointment with your pediatrician or doctor.

Don’t have a primary care provider yet? Use our Find a Doctor tool to locate a family medicine doctor or pediatrician in your area and schedule your child’s pre-participation physical exam today.

How Can I Prepare My Child for His or Her Yearly Physical?

It is best to prepare your child for a yearly physical through a quick overview of what will take place. Discuss with them about what to expect, such as how the doctor will be checking their eyes, nose, ears and weight. In addition, explain which immunizations may be given at that particular appointment. This is an effective way for you and the child to minimize uncomfortable, unexpected procedures and set the tone for a calm environment.

How Do I Prepare for My Child’s Annual Physical?

There are various ways for parents to prepare for their child's annual physical. Important information to have ready before entering the Doctor's office include:

  • Changes in family medical history.
  • Changes in the child’s health since the last physical.
  • List of any over-the-counter medications the child is taking.
  • Your family insurance card.

Ensuring your child’s long-term health is our top priority at GHP Clinic. Through annual physicals, you are not only protecting your child’s well-being, but also the health of those within your community. Schedule an appointment with his or her primary care provider today and guarantee that your child or teen is ready for the new school year.

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