On the Pulse

World Cup Shines Light on Female Concussions

Girls Soccer - WebThe Women’s World Cup is underway in Canada and soccer fans have been tuning in to watch some of the most elite female soccer players in the world compete for the title of world champion. But while most of the attention is on the competition itself, it’s also an opportune time to talk about one of the risks of the sport, concussions, according to Dr. Samuel Browd, a pediatric neurosurgeon and medical director of Seattle Children’s Sports Concussion Program.

“Soccer is commonly called out as an example of a sport that has a high incidence of female concussion,” Browd said. “And this is for a couple different reasons. One is pure numbers. Many women play soccer causing the sport to have a higher concussion rate. Women commonly get a concussion from heading the ball or from falling and hitting their head on the ground. But another reason is simply due to the way the sport is played: aggressively.” Read full post »

Lactation Consultants Help New Moms When They Need It Most

Juliette, who was too sick to nurse, was still able to get breast milk from her mom, Amanda, with the help of Seattle Children's lactation consultants.

Juliette (right), who was too sick to nurse, was still able to get breast milk from her mom, Amanda, with the help of Seattle Children’s lactation consultants.

Everything went perfectly when Amanda Erickson’s first baby was born. Bennet arrived right on time on March 11, 2012, healthy and eager to nurse.

Exactly two years later – on March 11, 2014 – Bennet’s sister, Juliette, came into the world. This time, says Erickson, “it was an adventure birth.”

In other words, nothing went as planned.

Juliette had been diagnosed before birth with a serious heart problem, and Erickson planned to deliver at the University of Washington Medical Center so her baby could get to Seattle Children’s right away.

“We knew she wouldn’t be able to breathe on her own,” says Amanda. Read full post »

Smaller Artificial Heart Valve Saves Sadie’s Life; Offers Promise for Kids Everywhere

Lee'or, Sadie and Wendy Rutenberg

Lee’or, Sadie and Wendy Rutenberg

Lee’or and Wendy Rutenberg knew that their baby daughter, Sadie, was going to be born with heart problems. Ultrasounds showed that the walls between her heart’s atria and ventricles were not forming correctly. But they didn’t think it would be a problem for Sadie right away.

“Most children with conditions like Sadie’s don’t need surgery until they are 2 or 3 years old. We thought we’d have two or three years of relatively normal life before we’d have to do all of this,” Lee’or Rutenberg said as he gestured toward his daughter’s bed at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Unfortunately for the Rutenbergs, Sadie’s heart problems were more complex than expected. The only option for her was a type of pediatric heart valve that is currently in clinical trial. Sadie would become the first child in the U.S. to receive the valve as part of the HALO U.S. IDE Trial, which is testing the safety and efficiency of the St. Jude Medical Masters HPTM Series 15mm mechanical heart valve. Read full post »

One Family’s Journey Across the Country to Treat Daughter’s Epilepsy

This week, in honor of Father’s Day, we’re sharing the story about James Marvin and his family’s incredible journey to find treatment for their daughter’s epilepsy.

Marvin family Newport RI Aug 2005

The Marvin family

Imagine living every day of your life waiting for your child to have their next seizure. This is often the reality for parents of children with intractable epilepsy – a chronic form of epilepsy that can’t be controlled by medications alone. Every moment is plagued by uncertainty, and the world quickly becomes a place filled with barriers where hope and opportunity used to be.

This scenario is something with which James Marvin and his wife Joana are all too familiar. When their daughter, Charlotte, was diagnosed with epilepsy after having her first seizure at just 14 months old, this became their family’s world.

“We called it ‘the antagonist,’” said Marvin. “Charlotte would usually have a seizure every couple of days, but any time she was stressed, tired or sick, the antagonist would come out. It was so difficult to live our lives just waiting for the other shoe to drop, and there was no end in sight.”

That was, until five years later when they traveled 3,000 miles from their home in Virginia, to seek treatment at Seattle Children’s Hospital that held the promise of ending Charlotte’s seizures, hopefully for good.

Read full post »

Teen Wishes for a Heart for His 16th Birthday

Jacob Riley Smith - Web

Jacob Smith, 16, from Mukilteo, Wash.

Most 16-year-olds wish for a car for their birthday, but not Jacob Smith from Mukilteo, Wash. Jacob‘s wish was for a heart. Fortunately, he didn’t have to wait long for his wish to come true. He received a call from his doctors on Saturday, June 6, 2015. They had a match! He would receive a heart before he turned 16.

“I couldn’t have ever imagined that this would be our story, but here we are,” said Angela Smith, Jacob’s mom. “It was on a Thursday when Jacob got sick, a Thursday when he had open heart surgery, a Thursday when he was put on the transplant list, and now on Thursday, June 18, he’ll celebrate his birthday with a new heart.” Read full post »

When Brain Surgery Is the Family Business: A Father’s Day Story

Dr. Jeff Ojemann with his dad, Dr. George Ojemann

Dr. Jeff Ojemann with his dad, Dr. George Ojemann.

For Dr. Jeff Ojemann, chief of the Neurosurgery Division and director of epilepsy surgery at Seattle Children’s, neuroscience is not just a passion – it’s the family business. His father, Dr. George Ojemann, was also a neurosurgeon and a national pioneer in the treatment of epilepsy.

As we near Father’s Day, we asked Ojemann about his dad and how their relationship influenced his career choice. Read full post »

Seattle Children’s Hospital Ranks 6th in U.S. News & World Report 2015-16 Best Children’s Hospitals

U.S. News & World Report has ranked Seattle Children’s Hospital sixth in the nation overall and ranked nine of the hospital’s specialty programs in the top 15 in its 2015-16 Best Children’s Hospitals rankings.

Because of its top 10 designation as well as having more than three specialty programs ranked in the top 10 percent, Seattle Children’s Hospital was also named to the U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll, making it the best ranked children’s hospital on the West Coast.

Among the top programs honored this year:

Read full post »

Test Your Water Safety and Life Jacket Knowledge: Common Questions Answered

lifejacket imageSummer is finally here and pools, river and lakes are becoming popular destinations for families looking for a fun way to beat the heat. But before stepping aboard a boat or planning a trip to a lake or other open water, it’s important to remember life jacket safety, says Elizabeth Bennett, a drowning prevention expert at Seattle Children’s.

Here, Bennett answers some of the most common questions parents ask about life jackets. Read full post »

Where to Turn When Preparing for Your Child’s Hospital Stay

New experiences can be scary for children, and a hospital stay is probably one of the scariest new experiences for any child and their family. When a child or teen is scheduled for an overnight or extended hospital stay, parents can be confronted with not only the needs of their child, but also the anxiety it may create for the entire family.

Social workers can help families with many aspects of a hospital stay, from providing emotional support to more tangible needs like insurance and financial assistance. Ashley Peter, a social worker in Seattle Children’s Craniofacial Center, has found that many parents come in with similar questions, but are unsure of where to turn to first.

“As social workers, our goal is to make sure families know there is support available for a variety of needs, regardless of their situation,” said Peter. “We realize that being in the hospital is a lot for families to adjust to, which is why we are here to guide them through every step of the way.” Read full post »

The Reality of Pediatric Stroke

Being the mother of a pediatric stroke survivor, I am thrilled that this month marks Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month in Washington state. As a nation, we have supported efforts of increasing awareness of stroke in general, however, pediatric stroke has received little awareness or research to date. Here we share our story in hopes of increasing awareness among the community, advocating for more resources and support for children and their families who have been impacted by stroke, and to provide hope to families starting out on this journey that our children can overcome vast obstacles.

Addison Hyatt survived a pediatric stroke at birth

Addison Hyatt survived a pediatric stroke at birth

Contrary to what most people believe, stroke is a potential risk for everyone, including children and teens. Stroke occurs at the highest rate in the first year of life, and is most common between the 28th week of pregnancy up until one month after birth. Approximately one in 1,600 to 4,000 newborns have a stroke each year. For children age 1 to 18, stroke occurs in 11 out of 100,000 kids and teens. I share this information not to create alarm, but rather to spread awareness. Pediatric stroke is often thought of as extremely rare; sadly it is not. I know far too well that it’s real, and we encourage other parents to understand its signs, symptoms and treatment options. Read full post »