Caring for Kids: Back to School Q&A with Shanda Dorff, MD


Back to school Q&A with Shanda Dorff, MD
Summer’s not over, but it’s time to start gearing up for school and fall sports. That means kids (and their parents) are trying to figure out if they’re up-to-date on immunizations and need to fill out forms to participate in sports. When it comes to well exams and sports physicals – it can be confusing – and leave parents wondering, “What exactly do I need to do to get my kids ready for school?”

Shanda Dorff, MD, Family Medicine from HealthPartners shares her personal experiences and recommendations for parents.

Q. Why does my child need a sports physical?
A. It’s important to have a sports physical to ensure kids are healthy for activities and sports. Kids may feel fine, but as the body starts having subtle problems, they can build up and cause significant problems (not simply affecting sports) later if not screened, identified and managed early.

Q. Does it really matter where I take my kids for their sports physicals?
A. By visiting your child’s regular doctor or clinic, kids can receive full pediatric care. In addition to a sports physical, we evaluate general health, vision, hearing, development, behavioral and academic health. This goes beyond what is offered at “quick” clinics. We keep children healthy and prepared for sports, camps and the world ahead.

Q. I sometimes wonder if my child might have hearing or vision problems. Are there any common warning signs?
A. Changes in behavior at home or at school could signify a problem, even if your child has been previously screened. Some children will hold a phone very close to their face to read it, or experience more frequent headaches. Talk to your child’s teachers to see if they have noticed any concerns. Contact your child’s doctor if you have questions – both eye and hearing screenings are quick and pain-free.

Q. Should I be worried about concussions if my child plays sports?
A. Concussions are caused by a blow or jolt to the head, such as a collision in a soccer game or the sudden impact of a football tackle, but are not limited strictly to sports. If a concussion is suspected, follow up as soon as possible with a medical professional who has been trained to evaluate head injuries. An athlete with concussion symptoms should never be allowed to compete until they have been cleared by a medical professional.

Q. My child seems to get allergies every fall. Is there anything I can do to help?
A. The most common seasonal allergies during the back-to-school season are ragweed, pollen and outdoor mold. There are multiple options for management to allow your children to feel their best. Allergy care can be personalized for each child to best meet their needs.

Q. My child is 15 and still hasn’t gotten a HPV vaccination – is it too late?
A. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that kids start getting the HPV vaccination at age 11 or 12. However, if they missed this initial timeframe, it’s not too late. Teen boys and girls who did not start or finish the HPV vaccine series when they were younger should get it now. Young women can get HPV vaccine through age 26, and young men can get vaccinated through age 21.

Shanda Dorff, MD, HealthPartners Family Medicine, works in Roseville. Call 952-967-6620 to make an appointment.