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Do you have a child entering kindergarten, seventh grade or planning to participate in school sports?

If so, a school physical is required. For older children many schools offer group sports physicals at a discounted rate; however, at HealthWest Pediatrics we believe nothing beats a good visit and examination by your child's pediatrician.

A physical provided in a group setting will certainly cover the basics (child's weight, height, blood pressure, heart rate) and many parents and their children believe this to be a perfectly adequate process.

However, that group setting physical won't allow for a discussion about other health-related issues or concerns which can be crucial to your child's health and safety before they take the field, court, track, gym or diamond.

Regardless of any type of exam, good patient care truly begins with the collection of a detailed medical history. For an existing patient of mine, the advantage I have is most likely I've already been caring for him or her over a period of time.

This certainly makes the exam much easier because I already know what pre-existing issues they have had over the course of their life and there is a certain level of comfort established between us.

On the flip side, when I get a new patient, that medical history collection is crucial. The patient history is important, but so are any genetic/hereditary concerns that might impact the patient.

In addition to the basic exam and the medical history, what truly sets our exam apart, is our screening for other health conditions that could put the child at risk, such as:

  • Asthma
  • Heart issues
  • Eating disorders or other nutritional concerns
  • Physical disabilities
  • Sexual challenges
  • Body image issues

For most of my patients, especially those entering junior high or high school, body issues and nutritional concerns are among the most often discussed. There can be questions the child doesn't want to ask their parents, but I find a child will often open up to me.

Growth and develop is important and it can weigh heavily on the mind of a teenage girl or boy.

When puberty happens early for a male or female it doesn't seem to be a big deal. What bothers most kids is when puberty is delayed and they quickly notice they are behind their classmates in their physical development.

Most boys will continue to grow for up to four years after puberty occurs and for girls it is typically three years after their first menstrual cycle.

I tell patients it's not unusual for kids to be at different levels of development and physical strength on the playing field or court. Once they understand this I can then advise them on what obstacles they might be facing in those types of situations or make recommended actions for the child.

Most importantly, I want to reassure the patient they won't be at that particular physical stage forever.

I can't agree more with the need for children to have a physical exam and it's certainly a parent's decision on the type of exam they prefer.

To schedule your child's school or sports physical contact HealthWest Pediatrics at (402) 354-0620.

Greg Severson, MD

Methodist Physicians Clinic Hawthorne Court (178 & Q)

Dr. Severson answers your questions about child development and parenting. One of the most gratifying aspects of pediatrics, for Dr. Severson, is watching an infant grow and change into a young adult. He is a natural teacher and he enjoys teaching parents how to provide the best care for their children. Dr. Severson loves kids and he is enriched by his interactions with them every day. He recognizes that children are unique and special. He hopes that his recommendations will help parents m ...

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