Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments

Sports Physicals For Kids: Why So “Ducky?”

Dear American Academy of Pediatrics,

I think there is a mistake. Kids have recently started coming into the office with forms for sports physicals, and the form is different. See below:


Someone added stuff to the form! Not only do we have to continue the inexplicable obsession with the hernia check (for maximum humiliation of boys, we try to use only female examiners for this), there’s a bunch of new stuff.

I do understand why we need to check for heart problems, with the risk of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy that can kill previously healthy kids. But what’s this with the femoral and radial pulses? Yes, I know it’s a screening test for coarctation of the aorta, but so is a simple pedal pulse check. Plus, checking a femoral pulse on kids is almost as bad as a hernia check.


Then there’s the “functional” part of the exam. The kids all think this is hilarious, but we were quite confused. I never was taught in medical school or residency what a “Duck-walk” was. I did a Google search and found that it is a brand of wine, but I don’t think that’s appropriate for a sports physical (you know, with underage drinking being such a problem).


Google also had lots of pictures of Chuck Berry. I assume his walk in a squat position is referred to as a “duck walk.” So are we supposed to have them do air guitar and pretend to be Chuck Berry?

Would the Chicken Dance be okay? Most of the kids these days have never heard of Chuck Berry.


Then finally, there’s the hopping on one leg thing. Why would hopping on one leg include or exclude a child from sports participation? Wouldn’t a child who couldn’t hop on one leg have a low likelihood of making the team in the first place? What exactly are we looking for? I guess if we gave them some of that Duck Walk merlot, they pretty much would do anything. Come to think of it, I wonder if they were drinking merlot when they made this form.

I wanted to bring this to your attention because it’s caused quite a stir among the teens. They apparently are swapping stories about doing duck walks and are very disappointed with having to do the Chicken Dance. Somebody thought that hernia checks were not humiliating enough and wanted to share the love with girls as well.

I hope you fix this problem as soon as possible.


Dr. Rob

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*

You may also like these posts

    None Found

Read comments »

Comments are closed.

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »