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Teen Discovers Talent In Punching Bag After Losing Use Of Legs

Dr. Michael Astion coached Isaac Turnbull in speed bag while the teen was in the Seattle Children’s Rehabilitation Unit.

After his all-terrain vehicle crashed near his home in Wasilla, Alaska, in March, Isaac Turnbull had the presence of mind to call his dad. He was okay, he said, except for one thing: He couldn’t feel his legs.

Isaac, 16, soon learned that he had fractured his back and injured his spinal cord. In a split second, he lost the use of his legs.

After three weeks in an Anchorage hospital, Isaac came to Seattle Children’s Rehabilitation Unit to continue his recovery and begin to learn the skills he would need to live in a wheelchair.

“When he got here he was feeling pretty hopeless — you could see it all over his face,” said occupational therapist Emily Sabelhaus, who worked with Isaac.

The goal of rehabilitation is to help patients find a way to get back to the activities they love, Sabelhaus said, but at first Isaac — an Alaska kid who loves to hunt and fish and be outdoors — couldn’t imagine how he would do that. He couldn’t see that his life, while different than he expected, could still be fulfilling and happy.

Halfway through his six-week stay on the rehab unit, Sabelhaus asked Isaac if he maybe wanted to punch something. Then she brought in an expert, Dr. Michael Astion, to show him how. Read full post »

A Steady Diet of Data to Keep Refugee Kids Healthy

Dr. Beth Dawson-Hahn (left) and Dr. Anisa Ibrahim (right) study refugee children and nutrition.

Dr. Anisa Ibrahim was 6 in 1993 when her family came to Seattle from Somalia, driven from their country by civil war. In the beginning, everything about their new country was exciting and confusing — especially the supermarket.

“We were used to going to the market every day to buy fresh food,” recalls Ibrahim, now a third-year resident in pediatrics at Seattle Children’s. “It was hard to transition to buying bags and boxes of food in bulk.”

Foods the family relied on back home — like goat and guava — were not readily available. And snacks Ibrahim’s classmates pulled out of their lunchboxes — like cheese and Chex mix — were completely unfamiliar.

Unlike some refugees, Ibrahim and her siblings were healthy and well-nourished when they arrived. And thanks to her mom’s skill at cooking and adaptation, says Ibrahim, they stayed that way as they learned their way around the new food landscape.

As a doctor, Ibrahim wants to ensure other families can do the same. That’s why she carved out time during residency to work with Dr. Beth Dawson-Hahn, a pediatrician and research fellow in the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, who is studying refugee children and nutrition. Read full post »

Amie Lusk: Full-Time Child Life Specialist, Part-Time Elf

Child Life specialist Amie Lusk blows some distracting bubbles for Christian Lybbert on a difficult day while his sister, Izabella, watches.

Child Life specialist Amie Lusk blows some distracting bubbles for patient Christian Lybbert on a difficult day while his sister, Izabella, watches.

Amie Lusk couldn’t have known it at the time, but she started on her career path the day she got caught sleeping in the book nook of her fourth grade classroom.

For weeks, she had been hiding her fatigue and sneaking naps in the nook. But that day a classmate found her, woke her up and marched her to the school nurse, who sent her home with a fever.

Lusk’s doctor ordered a blood test, and her mom got an alarming message when the results came in: “Take Amie to the Hematology/Oncology Clinic at Seattle Children’s.”

On March 26, 1992, Lusk, then 10, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). After two years of treatment at Seattle Children’s and a complete recovery, she had two important pieces of self-knowledge: First, she was resilient — if she could bounce back from cancer, she could stare down all manner of other challenges. Second, she wanted to work at Seattle Children’s when she grew up.

“For some people, cancer is the worst thing in the world — it’s horrible and even life-ending,” she said. “For me, it shaped the course of my life.” Read full post »

Meet the 2015 Family Choice Award Winners

CICU nurse Sherri Kruzner-Rowe with her former patient, Karissa Gossett.

CICU nurse Sherri Kruzner-Rowe with her former patient, Karissa Gossett.

When Seattle Children’s Family Advisory Council opened nominations for the 2015 Family Choice Awards, patients and families responded with more than 200 names – each one belonging to a staff or faculty member who made an indelible impression for all the right reasons.

With great difficulty, the advisory council whittled down the nominations to select four recipients who live and breathe a commitment to family-centered care: Danielle Giles, Sherri Kruzner-Rowe, Jo Ristow and Dr. Kendra Smith. In addition, the graduating residents selected one of their peers – Dr. Amanda Stinger – for the family-centered resident award.

Read on to learn more about the 2015 Family Choice Award winners and what family-centered care means to each of them. 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 »

Duffels for Discharge: Bringing Comfort to Kids Who Can’t Go Home

Kristina Spencer with duffels she has filled for acutely abused children discharged to foster homes.

Kristina Spencer with duffels she has filled for acutely abused children discharged to foster homes.

When Kristina Spencer joined the Seattle Children’s Hospital Protection Program team as its senior administrative assistant last summer, she took on another, unofficial role: director of duffels.

The duffels in question – dozens of brightly colored, kid-sized bags stashed around the Protection Program’s offices – had been purchased with grant money and were phase one of Duffels for Discharge, a project aimed at easing the transition for abused children discharged from Seattle Children’s straight into the foster care system. Read full post »

The Hunger Games: How a Team at Children’s Uses Hunger to Teach Kids to Eat

Lydia digs in.

Lydia digs in.

Last April, at the age of 12, Lydia Vaughan felt hungry for the first time.

The new sensation – along with support from her family and a team of specialists at Seattle Children’s – helped her learn to do in two weeks what she had never done before: put food in her mouth and swallow it. Read full post »

Camp Inside-Out Aims to Improve the Odds for Teens in Foster Care

Dr. Kym Ahrens (left) with Camp Inside-Out colleagues (left to right), Heather Spielvogle, Mavis Bonnar and Alexis Coatney.

Dr. Kym Ahrens (left) with Camp Inside-Out colleagues (left to right), Heather Spielvogle, Mavis Bonnar and Alexis Coatney.

This month, Dr. Kym Ahrens is going to camp with 24 teenagers.

Some people would call that an adventure; others, a challenge.

Ahrens calls it research.

Ahrens, an adolescent medicine specialist and researcher within Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, is studying whether an intensive, five-day “dose” of a specially designed camp can give teens in foster care the skills they need to steer clear of risky sexual behaviors.

It’s a big deal because teens in foster care are at much higher risk than their peers for unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Read full post »

Trailblazing nurses seek solutions to everyday puzzles

In the sleep clinic, co-investigators Melinda Garberich, left, and Jennifer Patano are looking at how iron supplements affect quality of life.

In the sleep clinic, co-investigators Melinda Garberich, left, and Jennifer Patano are looking at how iron supplements affect quality of life.

Katie Davenport and the other nurses on the surgical unit at Seattle Children’s Hospital generally use oral or underarm thermometers to take patients’ temperatures. But in other areas of the hospital, clinicians use temporal thermometers, which take readings with a simple forehead swipe.

Parents who have seen the temporal thermometers in action often ask Katie and her colleagues why they can’t use this tool on the unit, since it can take a temperature without even waking a child.

The question got Davenport and her colleagues thinking.

Read full post »

Connecting face-to-face and heart-to-heart

ethan_hoodie_webThe heart that connects Rachel Cradduck to a family in Mexico was transplanted into her son Ethan Robbins at Seattle Children’s Hospital when he was just five months old. It came from a baby who died in a California hospital after her family traveled there for medical care.

“A heart transplant is a bittersweet thing,” says Rachel. “During Ethan’s transplant and every day since, I have been deeply aware that another family suffered a tragic loss. I wanted to thank them for the incredible thing they did.”

Rachel had her chance last fall – about a year and a half after Ethan’s transplant – through a unique video teleconference arranged by Seattle Children’s Heart Center and Telemedicine teams at Children’s, and on the other end by Sierra Donor Services (SDS), the Sacramento-based organ procurement organization that helped facilitate the transplant. Read full post »