Hylton I Lightman MD DCH(SA) FAAP
We pediatricians know that parents keep a close eye on their sick children and bring them in to see us when something is out of the ordinary. However, it can be harder to stick to the routine of scheduling WELL exams – also known as physical or annual checkup — for their children. These well exams are just as important to your child’s health—if not more so.
The annual physical exam is an important aspect of staying healthy.
The goal here is prevention. By seeing your child every year, we ensure he/she is growing and developing normally and gets the appropriate immunizations to prevent illness. We physically examine your child head-to-toe. Height and weight—changes since last visit? We track physical, mental and social development changes. Teenagers are asked to complete depression and substance abuse screenings (and they do so honestly).
We ask lots of questions to ensure we don’t miss any detail about your child. This is a critical opportunity to detect any possible developmental delay or disability: by diagnosing early, we can often intervene to lessen the future impact on both the child and family.
- We talk about nutrition.
- Safety at home, safety at school, safety at camp.
- We’ll discuss your child’s sleep patterns, milestones, social behaviors and learning.
- Parents: Prepare for the visit by writing down questions and concerns.
- And Parents (again): Tell your children about the well visit and invite them to prepare by writing down concerns they may have.
My job as your doctor is to partner with you, your child and your whole family to understand how to make healthy lifestyle choices including good nutrition, exercise and safety measures. It’s especially important to engage older children during the exam so that they grow to become responsible for their health and well-being.
We know teens can be tough! Because we have developed a relationship with your kids over the years, they feel comfortable with us, even during this dynamic and fluid stage of human development. Teens are going through dramatic physical, cognitive, social, and emotional change. They may be facing the temptations of smoking, drinking and drugs for the first time. This can be the time that many physical and mental health conditions first emerge. And peer pressure – enough said.
These well visits let us keep the doors of communication open so we can identify and help manage any dangerous trends that can have a serious impact into adulthood.
A typical adolescent exam includes a review of the medical history. The patient and/or parents often raise concerns in a safe, comfortable and confidential environment.
We’ll examine eyes, ears, nose, throat, mouth, abdomen, back, legs, arms, and thyroid gland. We’ll do an assessment of growth and evaluate pubertal changes. Screening for hypertension, scoliosis, and obesity may be performed. Scoliosis is when there is a lateral (toward the side) curvature in the normally straight vertical line of the spine. Identified and treated early, it is a “curable” condition that improves the quality of a person’s life. Kyphosis, a forward curving of the back, also treatable, especially when diagnosed early.
Parents of teenage boys – Prepare your sons to expect a genital exam by a doctor. An exam “down there” is typically less than one minute and can yield important information that affects his future well-being.
Physical. Wellness exam. Annual checkup. Call it what you want. But your most important call is to 718-868-4808 ext. 3. Karinda will help you.
As always, daven.