Friday, May 23, 2008

State Raises Bar For Sports Check Ups

Courtesy of LaShawn Baxter/WLX News

 Before Tennessee’s 7th and 9th grade students can participate in school-related sports activities during the 2008-2009 school year, they will have to undergo a “well-child check,” much more comprehensive than a sports physical, say school officials.

   The Tennessee Department of Education announced the new rule last month. The well-child check is also known as an Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment Exam.

   The examination includes a complete history, physical exam, hearing and vision screenings, blood work, immunizations and age-appropriate education. The department says the exams are different from the typical sports physicals, which do not address the behavioral, emotional and psycho-social topics covered during a comprehensive health maintenance exam.

   Department representative Rachel Woods explains that whereas sports exams are focused strictly on physical ability, the more comprehensive exam required by the new rule is more like an adult’s annual health checkup where patients would talk about any number of issues with their doctor.

   Students can obtain the comprehensive exam from their primary care provider. The Lawrence County Health Department offers the exam on a sliding fee scale based upon income. There is no exam fee at the health departments for students covered by TennCare.