Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Back-To-School & Your Child’s Health

To Your Health

There’s no doubt that most of our kids think they are invincible. In their minds, they will never be sick, and despite countless examples to the contrary, they live as if they will never need any assistance.

I understand that attitude, too. After all, I was the same way when I was that age—as was everyone I knew.

However, not long ago, a colleague of mine made a comment that should resonate with many of you. “If I had paid a bit more attention to my family doctor when I was younger, I might have taken better care of myself,” Tim said with his trademark hearty laugh. “And this phase of my life would be a bit easier on me.”

Tim’s comment is basically a medical variation of “If I knew then what I know now.” As it turns out, “invincible” didn’t work out as well as Tim thought it would. (It never does.)

As a parent, part of me wants my children to feel that nothing can stop them. However, as a healthcare professional, we owe it to our kids to make sure they are physically able to handle the school activities of their choice.

And our topic today—whether you respect them or find them annoying—is school-required physical examinations.

To begin, please do not ask one of our doctors to complete the required paperwork and send you on your way without your child receiving an examination. (Yes, people have asked). Regardless of the age of the patient, health care should never be trivialized.

These physicals provide an educational opportunity for the young people of this community. This early focus on routine examinations will help to reinforce the importance of appropriate wellness practices. It’s always been my hope that these interactions will help to establish some good habits.

Plus, I’ve even heard stories of young people who turned a simple trip to the doctor for a sports physical into a reason to pursue medicine as a career. We never know when inspiration is going to strike.

One of the most important attributes of school-required physicals is that it be accessible and affordable. As we have done in years past, we are offering school physicals for only $20. This promotion ends on August 30.

To make this process even easier on you, no appointment is necessary. You and your student simply need to walk-in to one of our clinics—on Marco Island, in East Naples, or at Crossroads Plaza. If you prefer to make an appointment or need more information, just call the location nearest you. (See sidebar).

One strong advocate for school and sports physicals is Physician’s Regional’s Dr. Michael Helton.

Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Dr. Helton specializes in all aspects of primary care for adults and geriatrics. However, like every other member of our family practice team, he also sees younger patients requiring school physicals.

Dr. Helton takes these physicals more seriously than you might expect, “We have to do it right—no cutting corners. I have no idea when this young person will see a doctor again. For example, it could be eight years—I never know. This may be my one chance to positively impact their future.”

He has also seen the benefits of school physicals in a very personal way: “My wife was a school nurse. The results from these school physicals guided her approach to the handling of various students’ health care needs and frequently served as an explanation for certain behavioral issues.”

My wife, Jayme Lowe, is a school nurse in Collier County. “I have worked with the Florida Department of Health and my school complies with mandated health screenings including vision, hearing and scoliosis,” she says. “However, these end after 6thgrade. Therefore, annual school physicals may pick up on a health issue outside of the mandated/free screenings from the state. That’s very important.”

Sports physicals tend to focus on the heart, legs and joints. For example, let’s say your child wants to play football and one of our doctors discovers a heart murmur. That’s a very serious issue and must be addressed before your child takes the field. And yes, this scenario happens.

“I feel very strongly about athletes having yearly physicals,” states Dr. Helton. “Student athletes are often very stoic and do not want to address or even acknowledge red flags that might indicate a health issue—even one that could easily be addressed or save their life. Some coaches approach weaknesses as being deconditioned when really it is a medical issue that is arising.”

However, through these important annual examinations, Physicians Regional’s health care professionals uncover the truth—and hopefully play a role in your student’s ability to approach the new school year in the most productive way possible.

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