Wellness Exams: A healthy start to the school year

A summer full of fun, sun and adventures is keeping children and parents busy. With everything that happens in the summer, the new school year seems months away, but, before you know it, the first day of school will be here.

With September quickly approaching, as a parent you will need to start preparing your favorite students for the return to school. While stocking up on school supplies, remember that your children also need other things – like a back-to-school check-up - to prepare them for the academic year ahead. These remaining summer months are a perfect time for you to schedule any medical appointments for students from preschool to high school.

Back-to-School Check-ups

Making an appointment with your child’s primary care provider for a back-to-school check-up or wellness exam, allows the provider to re-evaluate and update your child’s medical history, refill needed medications, update immunizations, and assess cognitive and physical development.

Mile Bluff’s pediatrician, Dr. Ryan Plamann, encourages all parents to make these appointments. “Don’t wait until the last minute to get your son or daughter in to the clinic,” says Dr. Plamann. “Getting an annual physical gets your child ready for a healthy and productive school year.”

Maintaining a regular schedule of these ‘well visits’ can also help your child develop a trusting relationship with their healthcare provider. This will enhance continuity of care and can ease a child’s anxiety about going to the doctor. These appointments also help to establish a baseline of information about your child’s health.

Vaccines

During the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer childhood vaccines were given. Many parents were concerned about exposing children to COVID-19 if they went to a medical facility. This hesitancy has contributed to the decline in the distribution of childhood vaccines. However, childhood diseases like measles, mumps, chickenpox, and whooping cough, still pose a serious risk to children and the community.

“I’ve been seeing some children who are behind on vaccines,” says Dr. Plamann.” I think a lot of people were worried about bringing their children into the clinic during the pandemic or had other barriers to getting them in for an appointment. Now that the pandemic situation is improving, it is time to get caught up!”

Many schools require children be vaccinated for these communicable diseases to protect the health of all students. During your child’s back-to-school visits, your healthcare provider will review your child’s immunization record and will make sure your child is up-to-date.

Doctor Plamann continues, “It's important to keep on track with your child’s vaccine series. Being partially vaccinated makes your child susceptible to those illnesses. It is also better and more protective for the community to have more people fully vaccinated to ensure we have herd immunity from common diseases.”

In addition to routine vaccinations, children over the age of 12 are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Sports Physicals

By mid-August, practices for the fall sports season are usually up and running. To make sure student athletes are healthy and ready to hit the field or court, sports physicals are required by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA). Sports physicals can help student athletes discover and deal with health concerns that may interfere with sport participation.

Sports physicals are different than a well child exam, by focusing more on a child’s physical condition as it relates to playing sports. A wellness exam focuses on developmental and immunization histories, long-term health concerns and health risk factors.

“Every two years, student athletes are required to have a sports physical,” explains Dr. Plamann. “During these appointments we go over the athlete’s medical history, family history, and complete a physical exam to ensure he or she is able to participate in sports. Your athlete may not be able to practice or play in games unless a physical is completed, so check now to see if one is needed this year!”

When students come in for a sports physical, they will need to bring a participation form from the WIAA.

Vision & Hearing Checks

Technology has greatly impacted our world and our overall health. “As a part of your child’s health it is important to catch hearing and vision problems early, as they can have a major impact on his or her learning and quality of life,” explains Dr. Plamann. “As we become a more connected society and our children utilize technology, I have been seeing young patients more eye strain leading to poor vision and headaches.”

As you make back-to-school appointments, consider making one with an eye doctor for a vision check or an audiologist for a hearing screening. If you are unsure if one is needed, talk to your child’s primary care provider to see what is recommended.

If you have questions about preparing your students for the start of school, or would like to schedule a back-to-school check-up, providers, like Dr. Plamann, are currently accepting new patients. To make an appointment with a Mile Bluff healthcare provider, call one of the clinic locations below.

Delton Family Medical Center: 608-254-5888
Elroy Family Medical Center: 608-462-8466
Mile Bluff Clinic: 608-847-5000
Necedah Family Medical Center: 608-565-2000
New Lisbon Family Medical Center: 608-562-3111