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Wellness Exams vs. Sports Physicals

by Elizabeth Meeth | Apr 11, 2018

Did you know a wellness exam is one of the best ways to keep your child healthy? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children age five and older get one every year. If your school-aged child plays sports, you know they are also required to get a sports physical. But it’s important to note that the two exams are not the same.

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“Sports physicals are often just a quick screen while wellness exams are more in-depth,” said pediatrician Georg Schultz, MD. “There’s a much better chance that the provider will catch any serious health issues.”

During a wellness exam, the provider will perform a complete examination of your child from head to toe. This includes a check of your child’s vital signs: blood pressure, pulse, heart rate, respiration rate, and body temperature. The provider will also use a stethoscope to listen to your child’s heart and lungs, test their reflexes, examine extremities and genitals, and inspect the throat and tonsils.

Parents are also asked to complete a detailed questionnaire about their family’s medical history. Your answers give insight into potential areas of concern.

“Ideally every child should have a regular wellness exam,” said Dr. Schultz. “It provides a strong base for understanding their overall health.”

Kristen Roe of Stevensville makes sure her children Anna, 12, and James, 8, get a wellness exam every year. Kristen says her children are rarely sick, so the well child checkup helps Anna and James develop a better relationship with their pediatrician. 

“It’s important for us to find out more about their growth and health,” said Kristen. “That way if we have any questions about how the kids are doing, we can at least check in once every year.”

Other things to consider about wellness exams:

  • They are often covered 100% by your insurance provider
  • They qualify as your child’s sports physical allowing them to participate in extracurricular activities at their school

Pediatric provider, Stephanie Welch, PA, believes well child checkups are especially important during adolescence and teen years.

“In the teen years we focus more on certain topics such as mental health and internet safety, as well as drugs, alcohol, and tobacco use, all of which are critical in maintaining health as they become a young adult,” said Stephanie. “We also make recommendations for screenings and vaccinations which are important as they transition into college or their career.”

Now’s your chance to beat the rush. Summer is the busiest time to schedule a wellness visit – as many parents try to get their student in to see their provider before school starts. Need help finding a pediatrician for your child? Visit: to start your search.

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