Back-to-School Medical Exams: Parents, What You Need To Know

This exam is a very important part of good child health for many reasons. It gives the child, parents and physicians the opportunity to adequately evaluate the status, physical and emotional, of the child who is entering a new classroom setting. After being out and about for the summer months your child has been given enough time to break those school time habits and possibly get into a lifestyle not conducive to studying again. The exam time allows for physician and family to discuss this in front of the child.

If your child is an athlete, there are issues to discuss and recognize. An exam that focuses on the orthopedic, neurologic and cardiac systems is very important.

  • Family history can be reviewed and if it suggests genetic issues that may impact on a child’s ability to play a sport, testing can be undertaken prior to the sports season in order to clear such a child to play a given sport.
  • The issue of cerebral concussion during contact and sometimes non -contact sports can be addressed and the seriousness of this can be stressed to child and parent alike. More and more emphasis has been placed on the significance of such injuries, and rightfully so, as repeated concussions can lead to permanent problems
  • Orthopedic issues can be identified that may predispose an athlete student to further and more significant problems. These may result in alterations in training procedures such that emphasis is placed on protecting certain areas of the body.
  • There are issues that may prevent a child from playing an impact sport altogether; such as a single organ which is usually found in pairs- kidneys, eyes, testicles, etc. Certainly emphasis would be placed on avoiding injury to the remaining organ and might prohibit playing a certain sport. It is important for the child to hear such things directly from his/her Doctor, rather than be restricted by parents.

The pre-school exam can stress the importance of looking for aberrant behavior in class mates and avoiding such behavior: smoking, drugs, early sexual behavior, risk taking, just to name a few that in the presence of peer pressures might be difficult for a child to “just say no”.

Depending on the age of the child such issues as sexuality and gender issues can be addressed, including natural progression of puberty and beyond.

Immunizations can be reviewed and if not up to date, the proper recommendation can be given and the fears of parents and children about these immunizations can be openly discussed.

It is easy to see how this back-to-school medical exam is as important, if not more so, than obtaining the right papers, pencils, etc. Parents, please keep this in mind as the school year approaches

About the Author

Dr. Joseph Skoloff received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his medical degree from The Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He is a past Vice Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics, a past Chairman of the Infection Control Committee at the Loudoun Hospital Center and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In his 41 years as a practicing pediatrician he has kept hundreds of kids and families healthy and safe and plans to continue to do so for years to come. Dr. Joe believes strongly in the combined power of parent and physician working together for the health of their children. He is an advocate for children everywhere and and adheres strongly to the principles of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr Joe is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


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