Back-to-school physical sets stage for classroom success

Back-to-school physical sets stage for classroom success
Updated: Jul. 21, 2022 at 10:00 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Before the kids head to the classroom, check a trip to the doctor’s office off your back to school list.

Dr. Randy Schumacher, a pediatrician with Stormont Vail Health in Topeka, says the annual visits serve several purposes.

“I think when we look at the big picture, it’s making sure that they’re up to date on their immunizations, making sure that if there’s any medications, like an inhaler or an EpiPen - making sure that those are filled and that they have paperwork filled out so they are able to have that at school,” Dr. Schumacher said.

Dr. Schumacher says students who plan to take part in physical activities also should have a sports physical.

“A sports physical specifically looks at their risk going into the season, so whether that’s risk of a neurologic disorder such as a seizure disorder, heart disease, old orthopedic fractures or sprains,” he said. “We also look more at the musculo-skeletal system.”

Dr. Schumacher says all kids can expect a hearing and vision screening. He said checking those functions often is a good thing, so the back-to-school checkup should not take the place of any regular trips to the eye doctor or school screenings.

“(Hearing and seeing) can really affect them day to day in the classroom - not being able to hear and appropriately follow the directions or hear what the teacher is reading to them; and vision - being able to see the Smart Board, or even when up close, when they’re reading, being able to see the words,” he said.

Coming out of the pandemic, Dr. Schumacher says they’re seeing a lot more kids with anxiety or depression. The checkup is a chance to offer help. He said returning to school is a big transition, and parents can try strategies like arranging an early visit to the classroom, and taking advantaged of the more relaxed setting of a school “back to school” event.

“(We can) help alleviate some of those big hurdles with that big transition back into school,” Dr. Schumacher said.

On the immunization front, all kids six months and older are eligible for the COVID vaccine, and Dr. Schumacher says older students may be due for a booster. He said doctors and clinics tend to see all respiratory illness increase when kids are back to school and close together, and it’s important to keep kids healthy so they can stay in the classroom setting.

“Even for the younger kids, we’ve found that (the COVID vaccine) is very safe. So what protection we can get - especially from serious disease - I think is worthwhile,” he said. “(It’s) the same with the flu shot every year.”

Dr. Schumacher says flu shot clinics should start in September, so children - and adults - can have their influenza vaccine by Halloween.

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