A preparticipation sports physical (PPE) is designed to assess for conditions that put an athlete at risk for serious harm or even death. It also provides the opportunity to educate athletes, parents, and guardians about the risks and benefits of sports participation, and, since it is the only exposure many teens have to medical care, should be used to provide lifestyle advice to adolescents who are not receiving regular medical care.
Parents need to understand, however, that:
- The PPE is limited in its ability to detect all serious or life-threatening medical conditions. As a result, a "normal" evaluation does not imply absence of risk;
- Sudden death is rare among young athletes;
- The social and physical benefits of participation, for both boys and girls, and even in contact and collision sports, usually outweigh the risks;
- Injury, not underlying medical disease, is the most common cause of morbidity and mortality in athletes; attention to safety by complying with safe play rules and wearing protective equipment is of paramount importance; and
- The use of illicit drugs or banned substances (e.g. steroids) may jeopardize athletes' competitive status as well as their general health.