Back to School Physicals with Dr. Aislinn Rogalla

Annual physicals are especially important for children, because so much changes from year to year for them. If you think about an adult that is 46 and turning 47, there's probably not a whole lot that has changed in that time period for you, but if you think of a newborn turning one year old or one year turning two years old, there's a whole bunch of things that have changed in that time period, so much development and so many new skills. The annual physical is the perfect time to check up on your child and make sure that they're growing and developing at a rate that's consistent with other children their age.

It's also important for school-age children to be seen on a consistent basis. Vaccines are still important for school. There's a cluster of vaccinations at about four to six and again at 11 to 12 and then in that 16 to 18 year range. It's still important to make sure that children are learning all the skills that are expected of that age group and developing regularly. At the annual exam, we'll have a discussion with the family members regarding the child's development and different changes that have been going on, any recent illnesses. We'll go through family history and make sure that the kids are being assessed for risks appropriately. We will get a sense of their diet and exercise, what they're learning in school, how they're performing, how their relationships are at school as well as at home, and then we'll also do a physical exam, checking them over from head to toe to make sure that everything looks normal.

It's also really important to have a yearly checkup because flu vaccines are needed every year. It doesn't matter a whole lot what time your child has their annual physical. If it's easier for scheduling purposes to have it around their birthday, that's perfectly acceptable. If it works better for your family to have them come in before school starts, that's fine as well.

As part of the annual physical, we can also complete the sports physical form that's required by various school systems. It's nice to do them all at the same time because a lot of those questions and physical exam points overlap. Sports physicals separate from the annual physical focus more on concerning symptoms with relation to the pulmonary and cardiovascular systems, so we dive a little bit more deeply into any symptoms that your child might be having as well as in any family history that puts them at risk if they're going to be exerting themselves in school play.

In addition to making sure that your child is developing appropriately, the annual physical is a good time to also educate parents on things to look for in terms of developmental milestones in the upcoming year.