Besides backpacks and books, back to school also means sports physicals for high school and college student-athletes. Under Arizona state law, students are required to have a physical examination before engaging in school athletic activities.

It’s a good precaution to take, says Devin Minior, MD, medical director of Banner Urgent Care, which has locations throughout metro Phoenix and Tucson.

 “It really provides a way for parents, students and teachers to make sure that the kids who are out there playing are ready to do so,’’ he said.

“Kids always think of themselves as indestructible but it’s good to know that they are right condition for school sports.’’

Banner Urgent Care provides sports physicals that look at a student’s medical history, as well as evaluate cardiac, lung and neurological functions. An electrocardiogram, EKG, may also be used to monitor their heart’s electrical activity.

In addition to fulfilling state requirements, sports physicals can also provide a valuable heads-up that a kid’s heart is not functioning like it should be. Minior estimates that one or two students out of every 100 who undergo sports physicals find a heart condition that needs further checking.

“You don’t expect to see problems in young people and when you do, you want to make sure it gets checked out.’’

The exam can take as little as 15 minutes. Banner Urgent Care charges $25 for the exam and offers them after hours for added convenience.

“We have a lot of parents who come in after work and get this taken care of. We’re happy to offer this service because we know how crazy back to school can be for families.’’

Student athletes also must think about protecting themselves against heat exhaustion. With practices now beginning, students frequently are playing in 90-plus degree temperatures.

“Kids push themselves and they don’t realize how devastating the heat can be,’’ Minior said.

Student athletes who play up to 30 minutes can use water for proper hydration. Students who are practicing for longer periods of time, should consider drinking sports drinks with added electrolytes, Minior said.