On the Pulse

The Cat Immersion Project: The Next Best Thing to Being There in Purrrson

Many of the cancer patients at Seattle Children’s Hospital are here for months at a time and far from the comforts of home – including the presence of their much-loved family pets. To make matters worse, these patients often need to be in isolation due to their compromised immune systems, cutting them off from the social support that can be a lifeline during a long course of treatment.

Maga Barzallo Sockemtickem is one such patient. Maga spent more than seven months at Children’s in 2011 waiting for a compatible bone marrow donor, eventually undergoing a transplant. A 16-year-old cat-lover, back at Children’s for post-transplant treatment, Maga is confined to her room and hasn’t seen her beloved cat, Merry, in nearly a month.

The staff at Children’s decided to do something about that. While they couldn’t bring Merry to Maga, they did the next best thing. A call to Children’s Facebook fans to post their favorite cat photos for Maga sparked an overwhelming response: fans sent more than 3,000 photos along with comments and heartfelt get well wishes.

Maga, touched by the outpouring of support, responded with …”You guys remind me that there is so much good in the world, and it just makes me feel so much better, and connected. I can’t tell you how it feels sometimes, feeling disconnected and cut off from the world, and then with something like cat pictures bringing me back. Thank you all for your kind words, and well wishing. Its means more than you can ever know. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you…”

With more than enough photos, staff got to work and created the Cat Immersion Project. Using the photos fans sent and adding some creative magic with sound, sheets, and projectors, they created a virtual cat cocoon, making Merry seem just a little bit closer.

Watch Maga experience the Cat Immersion installation for the first time:

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Do Sports Derail Children’s Healthy Eating Habits?

A new study says “yes.”

University of Minnesota researchers interviewed the parents of 60 youth basketball players and found that the young athletes commonly had sweets, such as candy, ice cream and doughnuts; pizza; hot dogs; salty snacks, including chips, nachos and cheese puff and soda and sports drinks.

The parents also reported frequent visits to fast-food restaurants when their children were playing sports.

And, even though the parents agreed that these foods and beverages are unhealthy, they said rushing to practices and games made them rely more on these types of products due to their convenience. Read full post »

Social Networks Serve as Source for Parents

As a medical resident, Dr. Ben Wilfond remembers working with a family whose baby had trisomy 21 (down syndrome).  He was with the physician when she first talked with the family about their new baby.  “She walked in, introduced herself, and the next thing she said was, ‘Congratulations on your baby,'” Wilfond said. The remark took him by surprise.  “As a resident, I could see the problems this child was having and I knew some of what was ahead for this family.  But the doctor did not deprive them of their celebration, and she chose not to focus on the fact that the child had a disability.”

This situation isn’t always the norm. Dr. Wilfond is a co-author of a new study published in Pediatrics that found parents with children with trisomy 13 and 18 have challenging encounters with health providers.  Children born with trisomy 13 and 18 have low survival rates and survivors have significant disabilities.  They have traditionally been treated with palliative care.  Read full post »

Cystic Fibrosis Researcher Christens Petroleum Barge that Bears her Name

Physicians and researchers can get any number of awards over the course of a career.  Landing a Nobel Prize is the tops, of course.  But Bonnie Ramsey, MD, received a different sort of honor this week.  She christened a petroleum barge in Portland that bears her name.  Dr. Ramsey is quite excited about the honor, even if it doesn’t seem very medically mainstream.   

Barge christening by Dr. Bonnie Ramsey“It’s a unique award,” she said.  “It’s not the sort of thing most people get, to have something that huge be named after you,” she said, with a smile.  Barges can measure more than 400 feet long, bigger than a football field.  A barge of this size carries more than 3.5 million gallons in fuel, too.

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Researcher Heads to Africa to Curb Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Uganda RoadBright blue skies, lush green fields, jungle and red earth were among the sites Kathleen Bongiovanni saw on her recent trip to Uganda.  She visited this country in East Africa as part of a month-long research trip.  Bongiovanni, a program manager in the Center for Developmental Therapeutics at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, went to determine whether or not a foam stability test would be acceptable to clinicians, birth attendants and mothers in Uganda, particularly in rural areas.  The test—a simple process conducted with fluid suctioned from a newborn’s mouth—would be a new way for doctors and other trained healthcare workers to easily and inexpensively diagnose lung immaturity in premature infants.

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How a Bear With a Sweet Tooth Helps One Teen Heal

This is what 17-year-old Seth Barronian remembers about his last regular day:

He and a friend were long-boarding (riding long-version skateboards) near Tacoma, Wash., a good distance from his home in Normandy Park. Because he loved to feel the wind in his hair, he ditched the helmet his parents insisted he wear. He was cruising downhill at about 20 miles per hour when his board hit a twig or rock and stopped cold. Read full post »

Fireworks Safety

Approximately 9,300 people are seriously injured because of fireworks each year in our country – and children under the age of 14 incur nearly half of these injuries.

Indeed, if they’re not handled properly, fireworks can cause burns, as well as hand, foot and eye injuries in both children and adults. Bottle rockets are the leading cause of fireworks-related fires. And sparklers burn at over 1,200 degrees; they are one of the main fireworks that cause injuries.

The best way to protect your family is not to use any fireworks at home – attend public fireworks displays, and leave the lighting to the professionals. Read full post »

Cancer Patient Raps “Look At Me Now” in Music Video

They say that humor can be great medicine and this rings true for 18-year-old Abigale Hamlin, a leukemia patient being treated in Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Program. Abigale says that a good dose of laughter in her situation helps her to see and think of things in a different light.

Last year, when she first heard Chris Brown’s song featuring Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes, “Look At Me Now,” her witty and creative nature took hold and her inner rapper emerged as she flowed to the beats with her own lyrics that described what she was going through, “Look at me now, look at me now, I’m losin’ hair-air, or I’m gettin’ che-mo.”

“I’m the kind of person who sings a song and puts my own words to it because I think it is funny,” says Abigale. “Then I thought, how funny would it be if I took the lyrics and made this song cool and funny in my own way!” Read full post »

Bullying: Identify It and Help Stop It

A video of a 68-year old New York bus monitor being bullied by middle schoolers surfaced yesterday – bringing the unsettling topic of bullying top of mind.

Bullying can be one of the toughest situations a child or adult can face – and can arise in many forms from verbal to physical to emotional. It can manifest in a variety of ways including via the Internet (i.e. cyberbullying) and by spreading rumors. The aftermath of bullying can last a lifetime, providing a sense of hurt, isolation and fear.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, as many as half of all children are bullied at some time during their school years, and at least 10% are bullied regularly. Read full post »

New Study Clarifies Risks for SIDS

The rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) has dropped dramatically (more than 50%) since the 1994 Back-to-Sleep Campaign launched, advising caregivers to place infants on their backs to sleep. However, SIDS remains the leading cause of death among infants  1-12 months old in the U.S. In a study recently published in Pediatrics, researchers identified the risk factors of 568 SIDS deaths from 1991 to 2008, providing insights into the underlying mechanisms of this tragic syndrome. In this videoSeattle Mama Doc, Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, summarizes the key findings of this study and offers tips to parents and caregivers on how to reduce the risk of SIDS .

 

If you’d like to arrange an interview with Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson,  please contact Children’s PR team at 206-987-4500 or press@seattlechildrens.org.