As fall sports, school year approach, Essentia Health encourages well-child/teen visits

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Don’t be fooled by the dog days of summer — fall sports are quickly approaching, which means it’s time to start planning for them as well as the 2022-23 school year. At Essentia Health, scheduling a well-child/teen visit has never been more convenient. Well-child/teen visits include the completion of mandatory […]

Don’t be fooled by the dog days of summer — fall sports are quickly approaching, which means it’s time to start planning for them as well as the 2022-23 school year. At Essentia Health, scheduling a well-child/teen visit has never been more convenient.

Well-child/teen visits include the completion of mandatory sports physical forms and are for anyone from birth to age 21. They are recommended annually to ensure your child is healthy. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of preventive-care check-ups such as these declined precipitously. It’s important to get back on track.

At a well-child/teen visit, your pediatrician or primary care provider will:

  • Conduct a comprehensive physical exam.
  • Take measurements like height and weight.
  • Discuss any mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression.
  • Update all immunizations or vaccinations, including for HPV, meningitis or COVID-19.
  • Talk about illness prevention, nutrition, physical fitness and health and safety issues.
  • Complete sports physical forms.

The goal, Essentia’s experts say, is to ensure the patient’s physical and mental health, and identify areas of concern. For those set to participate in a sport, we also want to make sure it’s safe. That’s why well-child/teen visits feature screens for underlying cardiovascular disease or heart arrhythmias the patient and their family wouldn’t otherwise know about, and which could present a serious risk to athletic competition.

“In pediatrics, preventing your child from getting sick is the ‘name-of-the-game,’” says Dr. Dhilhan Marasinghe, an Essentia Health pediatrician. “Well-child checks are the first line of defense when it comes to keeping your child feeling their best. At these visits, your provider will review your child’s physical health, mental health and discuss recommended vaccinations. We can often catch early concerning symptoms before they become a serious issue in your child’s life.”

Children and teenagers have developed long-term health concerns following COVID infection. One of the more common setbacks is damage to the heart. In severe cases, this could present as heart inflammation and potentially result in sudden cardiac arrhythmia, causing the heart to beat either too fast or too slow. Damage to the heart can be accompanied by mild symptoms that may not raise red flags. That’s why it’s important to get evaluated, especially if a student-athlete had a more serious bout with COVID — sustained fevers, fatigue, trouble breathing, exercise intolerance, etc.

“Well-child visits are a great time to make sure your child or teen is healthy in all areas of life – growth, cognitive and social development, illness prevention, mental health and more,” said Dr. Jonathan KenKnight, an Essentia pediatrician. “We are excited every year to partner with parents to get to know families and to make sure kids are thriving in every way possible.” 

When it’s age-appropriate, things like substance abuse, proper dieting and sexual health also are discussed at well-child/teen visits.

Evaluating that information while already knowing a patient’s medical history underscores the benefits of primary care.

Visit Essentia’s well-child/teen check page for more information, including a list of the top questions to ask your child’s provider. There, you can schedule a virtual or in-person visit, which also can be done via the Essentia Health MyChart patient portal. Well-child/teen visits can be completed by a pediatrician or primary care provider. Many insurance companies cover one such visit per year; contact yours to check on coverage.

If you are interested only in completing sports physical forms, please contact your local clinic to make an appointment or to see if they have any upcoming sports physical sessions.

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