For many children and teens, biking in the driveway, around the neighborhood, or to a nearby school or park provides a sense of freedom and adventure.
Not only can biking be fun, it can also be beneficial to a child’s physical health — strengthening their heart, lungs, muscles and bones — as well as mental health, supporting learning and development.
With activities like biking, it’s always important to practice safety. However, with so many different resources available for families, it can be difficult to decide what bike safety practices are reliable and effective to teach their children.
Dr. Cora Breuner, a pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist at Seattle Children’s, separates facts from fiction when it comes to bike safety, and shares tips from the dynamic perspective of a provider, educator and parent.
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Active kids enjoy improved mental wellness and reduce their risk of heart disease. While the days are short and the weather is often cold or dreary, kids still need to be getting physical activity each and every day.
February is American Heart Month and On The Pulse asked Emily Carter, athletic trainer, and Dr. Monique Burton, director of the Sports Medicine Program, to share ideas for indoor activities that put a smile on a child’s face and get their heart pumping. Read full post »
John Madden, now 22 years old, has referred to his stay as a teenager in the Seattle Children’s Psychiatric and Behavioral Medicine Unit as the 10 most important days of his life.
When John Madden was 16 years old, the growing stress from his demanding academic schedule became a catalyst for larger issues.
Madden had withdrawn from friends and family. His misuse of prescription medication and use of illicit drugs to cope with the stress further aggravated undiagnosed mental conditions. Bouts of depression and mania sometimes left him sleepless for days with little control over his thoughts and actions.
Madden recognized he needed help, but he was not relieved when he was admitted to the Seattle Children’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit (PBMU).
“I had this Hollywood view of treatment and thought it was going to jump from talking to being restraint-oriented, locked in a room and treated sub-human,” Madden said. “I wanted to avoid that stigma about what goes on in mental health hospitals.”
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As friends and families gather together to observe winter holidays, many follow traditions as part of their celebrations. There are typical traditions, like lighting a menorah each night of Hanukkah, decorating a tree for Christmas, or making resolutions for the New Year. Some families have more unusual traditions, like having a dress-up theme for Christmas Eve or throwing a BBQ for winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Some traditions instill faith, but whether faith-based or not, practicing tradition is a way to teach values, build relationships, foster a sense of belonging and create positive memories. These are all things that make a strong positive impact on the life of children.
On The Pulse asked Seattle Children’s Dr. Mollie Grow, pediatrician, and Dr. Tony Woodward, medical director of emergency medicine, to share their top winter holiday traditions. Read full post »
Seattle Children’s researchers consulted with the Northwest Junior Football League before moving ahead with a CDC-funded program addressing safety and concussion awareness in youth sports. Photo courtesy of Brian Bodine Photography/NJFL
Seattle Children’s researchers will launch an innovative program in early 2018 aimed at shifting the culture of safety in youth sports and building concussion awareness during competitive play.
The program, called One Team, emphasizes community engagement in conducting brief pre-game safety huddles involving coaches, officials, parents and athletes, with a goal of addressing both sportsmanship and the importance of removing an athlete from play if they potentially have a concussion.
Dr. Sara Chrisman and Dr. Emily Kroshus, both members of the Seattle Pediatric Concussion Research Collaborative and Seattle Children’s Center for Childhood Health, Behavior and Development, designed the program.
“We want to change how children, parents and coaches relate to injuries, and reinforce a line in athlete safety that shouldn’t be crossed, even in a competitive atmosphere,” Chrisman said.
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The school year has begun, the days are getting shorter and the holidays are right around the corner. As a result, families are on the go in less daylight and variable weather, by foot, bicycles and vehicles. It’s a good time to think about how to use active transportation while staying safe in an increasingly busy world.
“Walking and biking are fantastic ways to get exercise and I want to see more families choosing active transportation,” said Dr. Beth Ebel, attending physician at Seattle Children’s and lead of the Safe and Active Transport Section at the University of Washington/Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center. “Parents can help keep their children injury-free when they’re on the go by advocating for safe places for active transportation and consistently practicing and enforcing safe behaviors while traveling by any mode, whether near or far.” Read full post »
As an adolescent medicine specialist, I help teens manage a wide range of eating habits, many of which can negatively impact their overall health and development. For example, I often hear teens say they’re skipping breakfast or trying to diet. Some have very rigid rules around food that alarmingly result in their bodies showing signs of starvation. Although these symptoms can rarely point to a severe eating disorder like anorexia and bulimia nervosa, when these disorders do take hold they can be life altering.
I recently watched a film on Netflix called “To the Bone,” which illustrated an example of one person’s struggle to recover from anorexia. Despite its dramatic portrayal for cinematic purposes, I was impressed with the truthful depiction of the emotional experiences the main character faced with her eating disorder.
Eating disorders affect about 0.5% of the population, but symptoms often start during the teen years. Complications of eating disorders can be severe and include shifts in electrolytes (like potassium, chloride and glucose), diminished hormone levels (estrogen and testosterone), decreased bone strength, poor concentration, and death.
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Chad’s Legacy Project has been a driving force behind the first-ever Washington State Mental Health Summit. Laura Crooks (right) and her husband, Todd Crooks, started CLP in honor of their son, Chad Crooks (left), who died tragically months after he was diagnosed with Schizophrenia.
Laura and Todd Crooks have experienced personal devastation from losing a loved one whose mental health issues weren’t properly addressed. Their son Chad took his own life eight months after he was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, on Jan. 21, 2016.
The professional help the gifted 21-year-old college student required wasn’t readily available when he needed it most.
The Crooks have since openly shared their family story in an effort to help others. They also started Chad’s Legacy Project (CLP), an endeavor in memoriam, to advance mental health education and innovations in the evaluation and treatment of mental illness.
CLP is realizing its mission, serving as the driving force behind the first-ever Washington State Mental Health Summit, which will take place on Thursday, Oct. 5. A portion of the more than $100,000 CLP has raised is covering the costs of the Summit.
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With fall around the corner, families are preparing for the new school year. Whether you have a child headed to preschool or kindergarten, or a tween or teen making the jump to middle or high school, Dr. Cora Collette Breuner, pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist at Seattle Children’s, provides the following tips to help milestone transitions go well for the whole family.
“Parents set the tone for how well the transition to a new school goes,” said Breuner. “When parents are worried about the transition and put too much focus on it, children take notice of the anxiety and feel that they should be worried, too. The best approach is to talk about the transition as a normal next step, prepare for the year and take time to ask about what’s exciting and what’s concerning to your child.” Read full post »
Dr. Joseph Flynn served as the co-chair of the national committee responsible for developing the American Academy of Pediatrics’ new guidelines on high blood pressure.
Parents may notice a renewed focus on screening for hypertension at their child’s next well-child checkup thanks to new guidelines published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
While hypertension, or high blood pressure, is common in adults, many people are unaware that approximately 3.5% of all children and adolescents also have the condition. If left untreated, over time hypertension can damage many organs of the body, including the heart, brain, kidneys and eyes.
“The goal is to ensure every child receives annual screening for high blood pressure starting at age 3,” said Dr. Joseph Flynn, an expert in treating children with hypertension at Seattle Children’s and co-chair of the national committee responsible for developing the new guidelines. “Evidence shows pediatricians aren’t routinely measuring blood pressure in younger children, or may not recognize when a child’s blood pressure is high, causing high blood pressure to go undetected and untreated.” Read full post »