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Physicals should be top priority as kids head back to school

DENVER — Many students are already heading back to school and that means it’s time for parents to take care of that annual to-do list.

Health experts say the first priority should be your child’s annual physical exam. Studies show kids can find more success in the classroom, when they are feeling their best.

Dr. Eric Groce of Swedish Medical Center says a back-to-school exam should include all of the basics, in addition to a hearing test and vision evaluation as well.

He says doctors look to answer basic health questions, “Do they need a little help rehabbing an old injury so they can go play sports and do better this year, or do they have something wrong that if we don’t get ahead of it now it’s really going to cause them trouble later on.”

A good back-to-school exam can also reveal social or emotional problems that parents aren’t picking up on.

Dr. Groce says, “If they have a chronic medical condition that’s not being treated or an infection or even some social issues that I might be able to help with, if we can get those earlier in the year they’re really going to do better during the school year.”

A check up at the beginning of the year provides a point of comparison if unusual symptoms develop later on.

These days parents can make an appointment for an exam with their family doctor or at one of a growing number of urgent care facilities that are equipped with a school physical program.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends every child get a physical exam once a year.