Health Check: back-to-school physicals
With just a few weeks to go before the start of the school year, a 16-year-old stopped into the HCMC Clinic in Golden Valley to get his physical. The doctor was paying special attention to his heart.

"It's really important to have a heart exam done during that time. A lot of murmurs start developing in the adolescent years, and potential heart problems can be found that way," said Dr. Bryan Nelson of Hennepin County Medical Center.

Doctors can also find a host of other problems during a physical exam, and help prevent future problems from occurring.

"The main reason to have a physical exam is to find if there's any growth problems, make sure the vaccines are up to date, making sure that there's no disease process problems that are going on," Dr. Nelson said.

Despite the benefits of a physical, Dr. Nelson says getting school-aged children into the doctors' office can be an issue around Minnesota.

"Approximately 40 to 50 percent of kids are getting in their normal physical exams," Dr. Nelson said. "I would say that is fairly low, and because of that, we are seeing a delay in terms of vaccinations."

The Minnesota Department of Health has a long list of immunizations children are supposed to receive by the time they reach a certain age. But just because they're listed doesn't mean everyone is getting them, as was the case with the recent measles outbreak.

"But what I have seen lately is, not so much measles, but individuals who are refusing the tetanus, diptheria, pertussis vaccine," Dr. Nelson said. "I've seen two or three cases of pertussis every year for the past two or three years."

Dr. Nelson, says anyone between the ages of 5 and 20 should come in for a physical every one to two years, but make sure to wait until an entire year has passed before scheduling another physical exam for your child. If a child has a physical before one year has passed, it may not be covered by insurance.

Delane Cleveland

Aug. 8, 2017


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