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Good Question: How Are Kids' Sports Physicals Different From Regular Ones?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- If you haven't set up your kids' doctor's visit this summer, here's a reminder to get it in on the books.

"August is a busy time for us pediatricians," Dr. Krishnan Subramanian, of Hennepin Healthcare, said.

Doctors recommend all children get an annual physical, but the Minnesota Sports High School League requires a more intensive sports physical (Sports Qualifying Physical Examination Form) every three years.

So, what's the difference between the two exams? Good Question.

"There's a lot of overlap, but the first thing I do when I see a young person is before we leave, I'm going to listen to your heart standing, laying down and seated," Subramanian said. "If I didn't do that, call me on it."

He says he's looking for rare, but serious conditions that affect the heart, lungs and musculoskeletal system.

"We may ask you to jump up and down, we may ask you to hobble across the room just to make sure those joints and organs are all working well," he said.

At the same time, pediatricians are also looking closely at family and athletic history, including conditions like a concussion, heat stroke or injuries. Subramanian says he also uses the sports physicals as a time to educate students about hydration, stretching or the signs of concussions.

"There's always a tendency to say, I'm good, I can't do that," he said. "But I want to say to that young athlete, what are those red flags, those warning signs your body is going to tell you you need to pause, stop and go see a doctor."

The sports physical requirement is every three years in Minnesota, but Subramanian recommends a one annually if a student plays sports all year-round, has changes in the family or athletic history or suffers any injuries. It's especially important as children's bodies are growing so quickly.

And, even for children not involved in organized sports, Subramanian recommends talking with a pediatrician about whether a sports physical is a good idea for your child.

"Things change quickly, injuries happen quickly, so it's really important to reassess where a young athlete is at," he said. "So, we can keep them safe and healthy and help them in their performance as well."

Hennepin Healthcare is offering two sports physical clinic sessions on Saturday, Aug, 3 and Saturday, Aug, 10 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. To schedule an appointment, call 612-873-6963.

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