On the Pulse

Researchers Identify Concussion Treatment for Persistent Cases in Children

Carmen Einmo, 16, suffered a concussion after falling off a horse. A new study shows that incorporating psychological care and coordinated care improves outcomes for adolescents with persistent concussion symptoms.

Concussions can create a host of symptoms—headache, dizziness, moodiness, upset stomach and other issues. In most cases, those symptoms eventually dissipate, but about 15% of young people who get concussions struggle with persistent symptoms despite seeing doctors and receiving medical care. The ongoing symptoms interfere with school, social life and physical activity.

Researchers at Seattle Children’s Research Institute published a study today in the journal Pediatrics showing a new intervention for adolescents with persistent post-concussive symptoms that improved health and wellness outcomes significantly. The approach combines cognitive behavioral therapy and coordinated care among providers, schools, patients and families.

“We were pleased to find that using an approach that adds a psychological care component to treating concussions and providing coordination of care in areas of the patient’s life significantly improved outcomes,” said Dr. Cari McCarty, a psychologist and researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute who led the study. “This new approach aims to improve the quality of life for patients who were otherwise left to deal with unrelenting concussion symptoms.” Read full post »

Seattle Children’s Research Institute Celebrates a Decade of Children’s Health Innovations

Seattle Children’s Research Institute is celebrating 10 years with a Science Block Party on Saturday Sept. 10 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

As one of the nation’s top five pediatric research centers and one of only 31 centers in the world dedicated to pediatric research, Seattle Children’s Research Institute has made tremendous strides since it opened its doors 10 years ago. From pioneering cystic fibrosis treatments to cutting-edge cancer therapies, our researchers have made their mark in helping to prevent, treat and eliminate childhood disease.

On Saturday, Sept. 10 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the public is invited to a free Science Block Party for kids and adults to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the institute in downtown Seattle. Kids, parents and community members will have the chance to meet researchers and play games that illuminate how medical advancements happen in our labs and clinics.

“The Seattle community has supported us every step of the way as we search for better treatments and new cures for pediatric diseases,” said Dr. Jim Hendricks, president of Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “In celebrating our 10th anniversary in downtown Seattle, we thank the doctors, researchers, families, patients and donors who have helped advance science to improve children’s lives.”

As the institute celebrates 10 years, On the Pulse takes a look at some of the most exciting pediatric innovations and discoveries. Read full post »

Stamm Camp Celebrates 50 Years of Bringing Camp to Medically Complex Children

Going to summer camp can be perceived as a childhood rite of passage. It’s a place for kids to cut loose and embrace their independence for a few special days. Whether it’s participating in new activities like fishing or archery, or bonding with fellow campers — camp can be a magical place that creates memories that last a lifetime.

Unfortunately for some kids who have medically complex conditions, the idea of going to summer camp doesn’t seem like an option. It can be especially true for children who require a wheelchair or rely on ventilators or feeding tubes to keep their health stable.

It wasn’t an option until a doctor from Seattle Children’s, Dr. Stanley Stamm, came up with a remarkable idea 50 years ago — create a summer camp catered specifically for kids who face serious medical challenges.

Every August since 1967, Seattle Children’s Stanley Stamm Summer Camp has given children with complex medical conditions the chance to step out of their diagnoses to “just be kids.”

Funded exclusively by generous donors so kids can attend for free, the week-long sleepover camp has become a powerful opportunity for campers to connect with peers, as well as former campers turned volunteers who understand what it’s like to live with a chronic illness.

Read full post »

Preventing Tragedy by Empowering Teens to React to Troubling Social Media Posts From Peers

Researchers in Seattle and Portland believe web and mobile tools could be used by young people to respond effectively to concerning social media content they see from their peers.

What if a text message could prevent the next violent tragedy, or prevent a despondent teen from dying due to suicide? Two research teams hope that new mobile and web tools could do exactly that.

Distraught young people often turn to social media as an outlet and write posts about having thoughts of self-harm, violence or other concerning issues. The audience for these posts is often a troubled teen’s young peers who are left to grapple with the content and what to do about it.

Dr. Megan Moreno, a pediatrician in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital and researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, studies how young people use social media. A shared interest in adolescent health and social media sparked a collaboration between Moreno and Dr. Stephanie Craig Rushing, a researcher at the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board’s Northwest Tribal Epidemiology Center, that aimed to empower young people to react to troubling social media content. Read full post »

Study Links Chemical in Plastics to Genital Abnormalities in Baby Boys

A new study shows that pregnant women’s exposure to a chemical commonly found in plastic is directly linked to abnormalities in newborn boys’ reproductive organs.

Doctors and researchers know that man-made chemicals commonly found in plastics, foods, personal care products and building materials can interfere with how hormones like estrogen and testosterone work in the body.

A new study published in the journal Environmental Research now shows that pregnant women’s exposure to a particular endocrine-disrupting chemical called diethylhexyl pthalate (DEHP) is directly linked to abnormalities in newborn boys’ reproductive organs.

Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, a pediatric environmental health researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute who led the study, sat down with On the Pulse to answer some questions about the findings. Read full post »

A Day in the Life of Hank the Therapy Dog

Ever wonder what it’s like to walk in the ‘shoes’, or rather the ‘paw prints’, of a furry friend? In honor of National Dog Day, On the Pulse is featuring one of the incredible canine and human companion pairs that bring joy and comfort to the hospital each week through Seattle Children’s Visiting Dog Program.

Hank, the 5-year-old, 78-pound Old English sheepdog, may seem like an unlikely visitor strolling through the colorful halls of Seattle Children’s, but he’s there for one important reason — to put as many smiles on the faces of young patients as possible.

The shaggy canine with a slow strut makes his rounds visiting patients in different units of the hospital every other Thursday of the month alongside his trusty human companion, Tom Whalen.

During their visits, the “Tom Hanks” duo carry a celebrity-like status, frequently being stopped in the hallways by patients, parents and staff for a quick pet on the head or simple greeting.

From his calm demeanor, soulful stare and wag of the tail each time he encounters someone, it’s clear that Hank, a registered therapy dog who has been visiting the hospital for two years, is skilled in comforting those that he meets.

Read full post »

Researchers Find Herpes Strain in the Nervous System

In this lab stain, the small orange-spotted cell on the far left shows a nerve cell infected with herpes virus in an animal model.

There are a couple strains of herpes so common that researchers estimate 90% of the human population have them. These strains, human herpes 6 and human herpes 7, usually do not cause severe symptoms when people acquire them. But researchers know that under certain circumstances, dormant herpes viruses in the body can unexpectedly come roaring back and cause complications not typically associated with herpes virus.

Dr. Serge Barcy studies herpes viruses at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. In a paper published in the journal Virology he describes finding the herpes 7 virus hiding in a surprising place: the nervous system of an animal model.

“It’s common to find herpes virus in salivary glands of humans and animals,” Barcy said. “But we found herpes 7 in the nervous system of animal models, which was a surprise because that strain of herpes has not been detected in the nervous system before. We want to understand what it does in the nervous system, if the virus is also in the human nervous system and if it could be associated with nerve diseases.” Read full post »

Lights Out: Sleep for Health, Safety and Success this School Year

It’s that time of year again – time to prepare for the new school year. Soon-to-be kindergarteners are getting familiar with their new playground and are shopping for crayons. Older grade schoolers are guessing what teacher they’ll have and hoping their best friend will be in their class. Middle schoolers and high schoolers are anxiously awaiting their class schedule and are picking out an outfit for the first day. Meanwhile, parents are planning for the fall schedule and thinking about how to best set their child up for success in the new school year.

“Before parents get too far down the road of scheduling the carpool or adjusting their work schedule, take a minute to know what time your child’s school day starts. Some school districts have made significant changes to their bell schedule in a move to align the school day with the time of day that kids are the most alert and focused,” said Dr. Maida Chen, director of Seattle Children’s Sleep Disorders Program.

She shared more on the reason some districts are making changes to start times and provides tips for helping your child get enough sleep. Read full post »

Seahawks to Fund Certified Athletic Trainers Program at Four Local Schools

Athletic TrainersGeniqua Harris, a Seattle Children’s athletic trainer in the Tukwila School District at Foster High School, has spent the last four years on the sidelines of practices and sporting events helping to keep young athletes in the game and injury-free.

“I’ve seen many athletes grow up right before my eyes,” said Harris. “I’ve been working with them since they were small ninth graders. Now, they’re graduating. It’s really rewarding to hear the kids and coaches tell me how much they appreciate me. I’m just doing my job, but I know it means a lot them.”

Throughout the years, Harris has seen a lot of injuries, from common sprains and strains to devastating season-ending fractures. She’s worked with athletes from a wide variety of sports and has helped them get back to the field as safely and quickly as possible after injury. However, there has always been one thing she’s always needed more of: time – time to serve more athletes, tape more ankles and help more kids through rehabilitation.

Today, thanks to the Seattle Seahawks and the NFL Foundation, time will no longer be an issue for Harris. Read full post »

Electrical synapses in the brain offer new avenue for epilepsy research and possible treatment

Dr. Philippe Coulon thinks electrical signals directly exchanged between brain cells may hold promise as a potential target for absence epilepsy treatments.

A child with absence epilepsy may be in the middle of doing something—she could be dancing, studying, talking—when all of a sudden she stares off into space for a few moments. Then, as quickly as she drifted off, the child snaps back into whatever she was doing, unaware that the episode occurred.

That brief moment of disconnect from reality is called an absence seizure, and according to the Epilepsy Society, childhood absence epilepsy accounts for 2-8% of all epilepsy diagnoses. Most cases of childhood absence epilepsy end after puberty, but about 30% of cases continue into adulthood or lead to other forms of epilepsy, says Dr. Philippe Coulon, a neuroscientist at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

“Some kids can have hundreds of these brief seizures a day,” said Coulon. “I can only imagine how hard it is for them to function and have a normal childhood.”

In a study published in the Journal of Physiology, Coulon and his colleagues suggest that electrical signals directly exchanged between brain cells may hold promise as a potential target for absence epilepsy treatments. Read full post »