3 reasons kids need a school or sports physical

Group of kids wearing backpacks

With summer upon us, now is a good time to get a head start on planning for the next school year. The back-to-school physical is one of the items that should be on your checklist.

While Nebraska law requires that children complete a school physical before kindergarten and 7th grade, Riki Rutz, PA-C, primary care physician assistant at the Elkhorn Health Center, recommends you schedule it annually. "The school physical is really the same as an annual physical.

Annual physicals are important for both children and adults," she says. "The annual school physical is an important way to monitor your child's growth and development, especially during their early years."

Have you scheduled your child's school physical?
Don't wait until the last minute. Schedule your child's physical now at 800.922.0000.

1. Gain protection against COVID-19

With COVID-19 still spreading in our community, it's important for your child to get vaccinated for their safety and the safety of those around them. Children 12 and up can get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. "Immunizations are very safe and one of the most effective tools we have to prevent the spread of infectious diseases," Rutz says.

Your child can now get a COVID-19 vaccine as part of their school physical at any of these locations:

Check back at NebraskaMed.com/Vaccine to see other locations as they're added.

2. Stay ahead of learning deficiencies

School physicals focus not only on your child's physical health but also on the developmental, emotional and social aspects of your child's health.
"We monitor your child's growth as well as his or her vision, speech and hearing – things that can affect learning and development if there is a deficiency," she says. "If we can intervene early, we can get your child the resources needed so they don't fall behind."

As your child gets older the annual physical also addresses issues like depression, attention deficit disorder, allergies and asthma. Health promotion and prevention also become more important. "We talk about the importance of adequate exercise, sleep and nutrition and we educate your child about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and STDs," says Rutz.

3. Participate in sports safely

If your child is entering at least the 8th grade this fall and intends to play sports, they need an annual sports physical.

"A sports physical covers all of the same things as a school physical, but we also dig a little deeper into your child's health and family history to see if there is anything that might predispose them to illness or injury while active in sports – things like asthma or heart problems," Rutz says.

"We'll listen to your child's heart and ask if he or she has ever experienced things like chest pain or dizziness while exercising." A school physical and sports physical can be done at the same time.
"It's all about prevention and keeping your child healthy," says Rutz. "Continuity of care is so important with your child's health as it allows us to become familiar with your child, his or her growth and developmental patterns and any other concerns. Then if a problem should develop, it is easier for us to identify it and make adjustments to address it."

See what Omaha Public Schools requires for school physicals.