Sports physical policy changes

Courtesy of Ramstein Public Affairs

Normally, one Saturday in the spring and fall the Ramstein Family Health Clinic hosts an event to mass process students who require sports physicals prior to the deadline for students to sign up for sports. That day would be fast approaching, but with long recommended practices from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the clinic will no longer be hosting the semi-annual sports physical day and is recommending annual well exams for all children, regardless of age.

“The biggest concern is that a sports physical only looks at measures that are specific to sports-related needs,” said Pediatric Doctor Maj. Matthew McDonough. “For students who are only seen for less than 10 minutes through the sports physical day, physicians may miss important information that affects a child’s overall health. Preventative medicine is the foundation of general pediatrics.”

McDonough said, conversely, an annual well exam will cover all areas included in a sports physical as well as develop a collaborative relationship between the parents, children and the physician. The AAP has been recommending well child visits for 17 years because it is important children be seen at a time in life of rapid growth and development. At a well child visit, parents are able to more broadly discuss their child’s development.

A well child visit gives parents a chance to see how much their child has grown since the last visit, discuss milestones, social behaviors and learning along with concerns with nutrition and safety in the home and at school. Parents can also refill their child’s prescriptions, schedule immunizations and any other services the medical facility provides to address the child’s comprehensive medical needs. It also gives the student a chance to talk with a medical professional about medical issues they may be nervous about speaking to their parents about.

If a child wants to play a sport and has had a well exam within 12 months of the application, the parent can drop off the sports clearance form to the clinic to be filled out by the primary care manager. Parents must fill out the front portion of the form prior to dropping it off and make a copy of the completed Sports Physical Clearance Form to keep for their records, McDonough said.

“This change is always rough for the first few months. We have implemented it at other bases and it has become a great convenience for some parents since they no longer have to make two appointments to have their child seen during the year,” McDonough said.

McDonough said that if a military parent has recently moved to the area and their child was seen for a comprehensive health assessment prior to their permanent change of station, or has had a well child visit in the last year at another station, the clinic will be able to see a record of that visit and also be able to fill out a clearance form for that child.

If the child’s last physical is due to expire, the forms can be filled out and it is the parent’s responsibility to schedule another well-visit at the specific date needed to prevent expiration of the participation forms.

To schedule an annual well child exam, contact Central Appointments at 06371-46-2273/479-CARE or visit