brand logo
Find a Location

6 Facts You May Not Know About a Health Physical

There’s no doubt that summer is a physical time, so lets celebrate the physical with a few facts you may not have known.

Summer is the time for physical activity – running, biking, swimming – and it’s also the perfect time for a physical. Of course, it’s smart to get a routine checkup to ensure you can stay active all summer long, but it’s also wise to get those back-to-school physicals completed now – especially if your child plays sports – so you won't be scrambling to do so in August.

1. Wine casks play an important role in the origins of the physical.

According to the NCBI, the modern physical examination originated with Austrian physician Leopold Auenbrugger’s explanation of the “percussion” technique – tapping something on the outside to understand its condition on the inside.

Auenbrugger’s treatise New Invention, published in 1761, described the technique, which he claims was inspired by his father’s tapping on wine casks to see how full (or how empty) they were.

2. Over half of the US uses an outdated or generic pre-participation physical evaluation (PPE) for school sports.

That’s according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, who recommend that young athletes undergo a comprehensive PPE that includes looking specifically at family and cardiac history, as the leading cause of death among young athletes is sudden cardiac death. Couple that with the fact that nearly 715,000 injuries from physical activity occur in or around schools each year, and it’s a no-brainer that a sports physical is needed.

3. The first stethoscope was a rolled notebook.

Probably no other instrument is more associated with physicians and physicals than the stethoscope, but the original version, invented by Rene Laennec in 1816, looked more like a trumpet than the device we know today. Laennec was looking for a way to comfortably listen to heartbeats and noticed that if he rolled his notebook and placed it between the chest and ears of the patient, he could easily amplify the heart’s sounds.

4. There are over 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the U.S. alone – and they carry over 10 billion tons of freight.

This may not seem like a fact directly related to physicals, but the two are very intimately connected.  Each of those drivers needs a DOT Physical at least every two years to continue transporting freight. That’s a lot of tonnage – and a lot of physicals – but there’s another group that has truck driver beat in terms of needing physicals!

5. The comprehensive medical examination became a standard requirement for immigrants in 1917.

According to the USCIS, the passage of the Immigration Act of 1917 introduced a more rigorous medical examination at the point of departure. Part of that was due to a high volume of immigrants; in fact, between 1900 and 1920, over 14.5 million people immigrated to the US. Today, there are nearly six million green card applications per year – each one requiring a physical examination.

6. The average wait time for a new-patient physical in the US is around 19 days.

That’s according to a report from Merritt Hawkins, conducted from June 1, 2013, through November 5, 2013. On the low end of the areas surveyed was Dallas, with an average wait time of 5 days, and on the high end was Boston, with an astonishing average wait time of 66 days!

Fortunately, there’s WellNow Urgent Care to pick up the slack – we can offer you a much shorter wait time and no appointment necessary. And whether you need a physical for the DOT, sports, a green card, or just a routine checkup, we have you covered (including vaccines).

Sources: and Genealogy/Our History/INSHistory/INSHistory.pdf