The New Sports Physical Forms are Shorter!

ActiveKidMD recently announced its participation with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to help develop new national guidelines for the Preparticipation Physical Evaluation (PPE), also known as the sports physical. As athletes and families know, this is an exam to determine medical eligibility to participate in team sports, individual sports or attend sports camps from middle school through college years. The updated publication, “Preparticipation Physical Evaluation 5th Edition” provides new guidance for the PPE that includes evaluating students’ mental health, as well as additional information on transgender and female athletes. And yes, one of the calls was to make the forms shorter!

These national guidelines include shorter, new forms for sports physicals as well as comprehensive guidelines on sports physicals. Dr. Koutures worked with other AAP colleagues and representatives from five other national primary care and sports medicine organizations to jointly produce the exam requirements which are intended to encourage sports participation safety and promote healthy lifestyles. The PPE also is endorsed by the National Federation of State High School Associations and National Athletic Trainers’ Association.

One of the biggest recommendations was to better fit the sports physical into the student’s routine health screening visit for important reasons related to privacy, access to comprehensive medical records, time for anticipatory guidance and updating immunizations.

So, just because the updated forms have less questions doesn’t mean sports physicals have less value. More importantly, Dr. Koutures and his colleagues came up with important updates, changes and points of emphasis to help young athletes. The updated guidelines acknowledge that, increasingly, teens and young adults struggle with mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. During the sports physical, a physician can cover topics such as bullying, drug and alcohol use, and birth control within a safe, confidential space.

Many sports teams, camps and other organized activities require parents to submit their child’s physical evaluation form, signed by a physician or primary care provider, before the child may participate in the activity. As part of the PPE, forms are available that will cover the child’s health history, physical examination and medical eligibility.

Here are some of Dr. Koutures new recommendations.


Let’s start off with one point of discussion that kept being hammered home. There is no better place than having the sports physical done in your medical home. That means in the office of your pediatrician, family physician, or internist – not in the urgent care, or in the school gymnasium.

Medical offices offer privacy to discuss important topics, ability to review past records, and familiar, trusted faces. Your physician offers the best place and support to cover necessary bases to protect the athlete. Now, this does mean that pediatricians, family physicians, and internists need to up their game. These physicians need to have available appointments, be ready to answer questions from athletes and be aware of latest best practices (which means reading the new PPE monograph!).


Many children and adolescents have concerns with emotional health, and athletes are no exception. In fact, pressures seen in sports and performing arts may lead to special mental health demands. Some of these demands may include depression, anxiety and attention deficit issues. These concerns were felt to be so important that four mental health questions are now placed front and center on the new forms. In addition, a full in-depth chapter was added on special mental health needs in athletes.

Above all, honest answers from athletes are appreciated. This is not time to be embarrassed or shy. Certainly, an open and trusting environment – yes, that medical home – is the best place to have this discussion. ActiveKidMD regularly sees athletes with mental health concerns that affect academics, arts and athletes. Hopefully, these added questions will allow even more athletes to get necessary assistance.


Athletes may come into ActiveKidMD with a history of medical concerns or disabilities that affect playing sports. Or, things may be discovered during a sports physical that could present problems. So, what is the best way to help young athletes deal with such things?

Dr. Koutures and his fellow writers and editors put a lot of time creating some amazing in-depth sections on common medical concerns that affect athletes. From concussions, to asthma and heart issues, from diabetes to concerns of female athletes, there is some real quality and helpful information. The monograph has sensible reviews of diagnosis and return to sport considerations. All of this while also sticking to a focus more on what “can” a child do rather than what a child “can’t” do.

Dr. Koutures strongly believes in shared decision making when it comes to participation in sports and the performing arts. This includes taking time to discuss known and unknown risks and benefits. It also includes appreciating the demands of certain activities and what sports might be better fits for certain athletes.

The new monograph is a one-stop resource goes a long way in supporting shared decision making and return to sport decisions.


Hopefully you are now convinced that the new monograph has much more value than just shorter forms. Some will notice that on the ActiveKidMD website, patients are still asked to use those older, longer forms. And here’s why – many schools in Southern California area use the older forms and Dr. Koutures doesn’t want to confuse or inconvenience patients by having them fill out 2 forms.

It is the goal of ActiveKidMD to work to introduce the new shorter forms to the schools. Once enough of the schools have switched over, then they will be switched on the ActiveKidMD website.
ActiveKidMD is always happy to have help from patients and families in this effort!

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