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Pediatric experts advise not to skip yearly sports physicals, wellness checks

There's still so much up in the air with the upcoming school year, but there is one thing medical experts say should remain the same: annual sports physicals.

TOLEDO, Ohio — While we don't know yet whether sports will be played this school year in every district in our area, pediatric experts say young athletes should still be coming in for their physicals, as potentially serious issues can be caught. 

"We are always testing musculoskeletal stuff, neurological stuff. We're also listening to heart and lungs. Cardiac is a big thing," said Mercy Health Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Cherie Sexton.

New this year is more education for the athletes and not just information about avoiding dehydration. 

"Right now we're even talking about how to be safe on the field with COVID. How to keep socially distanced. How to wash your hands. Don't share water bottles," said Sexton.

Even if your child isn't an athlete, experts say they should still come in for yearly wellness checks. Especially students entering seventh grade, who are due for shots. 

Experts add all students should get a flu shot, which should be available by early September. 

"That will be very important this year with COVID. Even though it won't prevent you from getting COVID, it will alleviate the fact that you could have another respiratory illness, possibly with COVID," said Sexton.

Sexton said parents shouldn't be nervous about bringing kids in. Safety measures have been stepped up. Appointments are spaced out to allow for time to clean between patients, there's one-way traffic through the practice and there's a limit on the amount of people allowed in. 

"Unfortunately there's only one parent allowed with the child at a visit. We're allowing video chat," said Sexton.

Something else important that Sexton screens kids for during their wellness checks is their mental health. 

"A lot of the kids need support mentally due to being quarantined away from their friends. Missing out on things they'd normally would experience," said Sexton.

"Some of the kids just need to talk it through right now and it's been rough on everyone," said Sexton.