Don’t Wait Until Right Before School

Dr. Craig Wittenberg

Kids are required to have sports physical forms completed to participate in all school sponsored athletic activities. While it’s important to get the paperwork filled out by your doctor, this is also a great time to get a yearly physical for your child at the same visit. In general, June and July are less busy at our clinics so this is a good time to make an appointment.

You may be thinking that you just want to get the required form filled out and be done with it. After all, what's the big deal with a physical when the child is so healthy?

There are certain things we do in life to prevent bad things from happening. People service their car every 5,000 miles; they go to the dentist every 6 months. A yearly physical is no different. 

Many insurance plans realize the importance of these preventative visits, so your coverage may not even require you to use your deductible. Check with your insurance company for details on your specific plan.

Remember, being young doesn’t make a person immune to disease. So yes, physicals usually consist of the doctor telling your teen they are fine and filling out the required forms, but that’s not a waste of time. All sorts of questions get asked that parents don’t usually discuss with their children. These questions can reveal countless complaints that the parent was never even aware of. 

For instance – Is there coughing or wheezing with strenuous exercise? This could be the tip-off of an exercise-induced-asthma that could be easily remedied. 

Or – Are there problems with constipation, diarrhea or bloody stools? I would guess that very few teens discuss their bowel habits with their parents unless there is something very, very wrong. 

The physical exam is fairly straight forward. But let me just mention some of the (not so obvious) findings that can be detected during the exam. These include an enlarged thyroid gland, a thyroid cyst, unexplainable lymph nodes, a hernia or a testicular mass. Listening to the heart may reveal an irregular beat, a "click," or a murmur. 

Immunization status will also be reviewed. The tetanus booster is usually due at around 15 years of age. If the patient is playing in a contact sport, this is especially important. Teens should have received their Hepatitis B vaccine (a series of 3 shots), and a second measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. It is wise to also give a TB skin test if they have not had one in the past few years. Girls should get their Gardasil shot around 13 years of age.

These yearly physicals aren’t just a way to get your sports physical forms filled out for school; it’s a way for you to know that everything really is fine. It is not often that something abnormal shows up, but when it does, you may catch it early enough to make a big difference.

There’s no need to schedule a separate appointment to fill out the sports physical form if your child has had a physical this year. Instead, you can just drop off your form to our office and we’ll get it filled out and sent back to you. We’ve already done the work at the physical so don’t worry, there’s no charge for that. We realize you are busy and don’t have time for an extra trip to the clinic.

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