On the Pulse

pagetitle_full_corners

Study Shows Kids with Autism Benefit from Parent-Led Language Intervention

iStock_000003157241SmallChildren with autism often experience communication challenges. It’s crucial for patients to receive treatment interventions during early development to prevent long-term deficits, but it’s often difficult for them to access the specialists they need.

As a clinical psychologist in Seattle Children’s Autism Center, Dr. Mendy Minjarez knows how high the demand is for therapists who can address core autism features, such as language deficits.

“Even if patients are lucky enough to see a behavior intervention specialist, their treatment is limited to the appointment time,” Minjarez said. “For years, parents would say to me ‘I wish I could practice with my child at home.’”

Minjarez made that wish a reality in 2007 by developing a new way to offer Pivotal Response Training (PRT), which focuses on teaching parents to improve their child’s language skills by using common motivations in daily life. PRT had previously been taught during individual therapy sessions with a clinician, the parent and the child, but Minjarez’s model aims to serve many more families by teaching parents in a group setting.

Now, Minjarez has collaborated with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford researchers to publish a study testing the group model of PRT.  She discovered most parents effectively used the training and their children showed significantly more language progress than those who did not attend the group training. Read full post »

Studies Aim to Improve Survival Rates for Kids with Adult Cancers

research_fileWhen speaking about breast and colorectal cancers, typically you wouldn’t think of children. These cancers are considered adult conditions and rarely occur in individuals under the age of 21. But according to two new studies from the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB), although these diseases are rare in kids, they do still occur.

“The thought that kids even face these diseases is surprising,” said Dr. Morgan Richards, research fellow in the division of general surgery at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “But that’s why it’s important to study such diseases.”

According to investigators at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Maine Medical Center, who presented this week at the 2014 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons, the studies highlight the need for an increased awareness among pediatric clinicians that these cancers do occur in children and a stronger collaboration between adult clinicians and pediatric care providers to increase survival rates. Read full post »

Stones Clinic Helps Counter Rise of Kidney Stones in Kids

Ada Zeitz, 2, tries to have some fun at her Kidney Stones Clinic visit while her mom and dad meet with the multidisciplinary team.

Ada Zeitz, 2, tries to have some fun at her Kidney Stones Clinic visit while her mom and dad meet with the multidisciplinary team.

When you hear the term, “kidney stones,” you probably wouldn’t think a blue-eyed, blond-haired 2-year-old is someone who suffers from the painful condition. After all, kidney stones are most common in adults age 40 and older.

Yet over the past decade, prevalence of kidney stones in kids has increased, says Dr. Joel Hernandez, nephrologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

It’s this increase that prompted creation of a new clinic at Seattle Children’s – one that exists solely to diagnose and treat kids with kidney stones. Read full post »

Hunting for a Cure: Researcher Brings New Muscular Dystrophy Treatments to Seattle

Erik Twede was just 3 years old when he was diagnosed with

Erik Twede was just 3 years old when he was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a fatal genetic disorder that causes progressive muscle weakness.

The day doctors told Karen Twede her son Erik had Duchenne muscular dystrophy, she went straight home and searched for the mysterious illness in her medical dictionary. She read: “A progressive muscle disease in which there is gradual weakening and wasting of the muscles. There is no cure.”

“My breath caught in my throat,” Twede said. “It was a terrifying reality to accept.”

Thankfully, several clinical research studies being offered at Seattle Children’s Research Institute are giving hope to parents facing the same devastating diagnosis.

The studies, led by Dr. Susan Apkon, director, Seattle Children’s Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and an investigator in the research institute’s Center for Clinical and Translational Research, offer promise to better treat, or even cure, Duchenne, through the use of new therapies with fewer side effects.

“When I meet with patients with Duchenne and their families today, we have a very different conversation than we might have had 10 years ago,” Apkon said. “Today I ask my patients ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ because I believe in their future. I’ve been able to look ahead and see the research being done nationally and internationally and there seem to be treatments on the horizon.” Read full post »

What You Should Know About Gluten

Gluten has been in the news a lot lately and often gets a bad rap. Some see a gluten-free diet as a cure all for a vast array of stomach problems, including pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and even weight gain and behavior problems.

But gluten – a nutritious mixture of proteins found in wheat and other grains – isn’t necessarily the culprit, says Nancy Nelson, a nurse practitioner at Seattle Children’s in the Gastroenterology and Hepatology program who specializes in stomach problems and inflammatory bowel disease. Cutting it out of your diet may not magically make you feel better.

That doesn’t mean that gluten sensitivity isn’t real – just that it gets the blame more often than it should. And while the cause of stomach problems varies, the symptoms are often very similar making it difficult to figure out how to feel better. Read full post »

Debunking Three Common Myths About Eczema

More than 30 million Americans have eczema, a skin condition that causes dry, red, extremely itchy skin. It often starts before the age of 5 and can negatively impact children in many ways, including not being able to sleep and lacking focus in school or social situations because of frequent scratching.

I see many patients every week who suffer from eczema and other skin conditions. These patients and their parents often come to clinic with ideas about what causes these skin conditions and how to treat them. Below, I’ve debunked three common myths about eczema that we hear at Seattle Children’s Hospital on a regular basis. Read full post »

Bringing Halloween Fun to Kids at Seattle Children’s

Read full post »

Practice Makes Perfect: Improving a Life-Saving Process Through Simulation

The following is part 2 of our two-part series on ECPR, a combination of CPR and ECMO offered at Seattle Children’s Hospital to save the most fragile patients’ lives. Part 1 covered Hannah Mae Campbell’s incredible story where ECPR and a heart transplant saved her life and allowed her to be the thriving toddler she is today. Here, we discuss how Seattle Children’s has spearheaded a first-of-its-kind ECPR simulation program to improve the process that allows the hospital to save patients in a time of crisis.

In an ECPR simulation in Seattle Children's neonatal intensive care unit, the surgeon works to get the mannequin on the ECMO pump.

In an ECPR simulation in Seattle Children’s neonatal intensive care unit, the surgeon works to get the mannequin on the ECMO pump.

ECPR takes place when a patient goes into cardiac arrest, does not respond to CPR and is then put on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), a machine that functions for the heart and lungs when the organs fail or need to rest. Hannah Mae Campbell’s experience demonstrates the importance of technology like ECMO and why it’s important to continually improve complex, life-saving processes like ECPR.

Since January of this year, Seattle Children’s has executed the largest-scale ECPR simulations in the nation, with medical staff coming together bimonthly to practice as though they were in a real ECPR situation. Even though Seattle Children’s ECPR outcomes are higher than the national average, the hospital initiated the simulations with the goal of standardizing each step of the process to further improve outcomes for patients. Read full post »

A Family Approach: The Unique Stories of Two Craniofacial Patients

Baby Genesis before her surgeries

Baby Genesis before her surgeries

Discovering your child has a craniofacial condition can be a stressful time filled with questions and uncertainties. Seattle Children’s Craniofacial Center aims to not only keep the patient’s needs in mind, but also the needs of the entire family. Below are the stories of two unique craniofacial journeys and how the patients and their families received support throughout the process.

Genesis and family find comfort after early diagnosis

Genesis Murillo is a fun-loving, 4-year-old who was born with bilateral cleft lip and palate – a birth defect that occurs when parts of the lip and roof of the mouth don’t fuse together during pregnancy. Cleft lip and palate affects one in 700 infants worldwide, and is one of the most common birth defects. It can be caused by several factors, including genetic abnormalities, but there is no single cause.

Read full post »

Seattle Children’s Hospital Unveils New Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit

Patient RoomOn Tuesday, Oct. 7, Seattle Children’s Hospital unveiled its new Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit to families and hospital staff members during an open house.

The new 25-bed unit, designed with input from families, will open to patients later this month and will feature single-patient private rooms, a classroom, group spaces, a dining area and an exercise area and recreation area. When the unit is fully completed in spring 2015, it will double the hospital’s current capacity, allowing Seattle Children’s to better serve children in the region in need of inpatient mental health services.

“The entire space was designed with patient and family input, as well as input from staff members, to ensure the utmost comfort and safety for our patients as well as those caring for them,” said Dr. Bryan King, director of psychiatry and behavioral medicine and program director of Seattle Children’s Autism Center. Read full post »