On the Pulse

Pandemic Catapults Rapid Expansion of Telehealth Care

Jessica Carey’s family has received care for her twin sons at the Seattle Children’s Autism Center for about four years. She transitioned to telehealth in February due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Telehealth refers to a broad spectrum of remote technological healthcare services, which may include non-clinical services, while telemedicine is the practice of delivering clinical care from a distance via technology.

“At first the idea of telehealth seemed daunting because it’s a lot of work for parents, but it’s actually a really nice way to be able to move practice to home from a clinical setting while still receiving support from a professional,” Carey said. “It also saves on travel time and expenses which is really positive.”

Since many appointments were cancelled or postponed, she added, “Being able to at least see our providers at Seattle Children’s helps keep consistency in my boys’ days.”

Carey is just one of thousands of families who have recently experienced Seattle Children’s rapidly expanded telehealth services to ensure children get the medical care they need during an era of travel restrictions and “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” orders to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

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How Might COVID-19 Reshape this Generation of Children?

More than 50 research studies to understand, detect, treat and prevent the novel coronavirus in children and families have launched at Seattle Children’s since the virus emerged in late 2019. The following post is part of the “Quest(ion) for Discovery” series highlighting this research in progress and the search for answers that could result in major scientific breakthroughs that save lives and slow the spread of the virus.

An expert in screen time for children, Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis, leads a team of researchers out of Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development. In a recently published editorial in JAMA Pediatrics, Christakis argues that it’s critical to focus on overlooked decisions, such as the return to school, in the wake of the COVID-19 surge because of its lasting implications for children.

Here, he shares research his team has proposed to understand some of the effects of COVID-19 on child development and wellness while addressing the question: How might COVID-19 reshape this generation of children? Read full post »


Should Schools Go Screen-Free: Study Reveals Significant Portion of U.S. Middle and High Schools Do Not Limit Phone Use During Lunch or Recess

The latest screen-time related research from Dr. Pooja Tandon, a child health and development expert at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, was inspired by her oldest son.

“When my son entered middle school, I learned that students in many middle and high schools were allowed to have their phones with them at all times,” Tandon said. “I looked into this a bit more and found that even in schools where policies limited use during class, cell phones could still be used unrestricted during lunch and recess.”

This struck Tandon, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, whose research focuses on promoting healthy active and outdoor play for children and teens.

“My fellow pediatricians and I follow guidelines that recommend children and teens enjoy two hours of age-appropriate recreational screen time a day,” she said. “Yet, many children may be spending most of their waking hours in school with what could be unsupervised and unrestricted access to their phones.” Read full post »


Alyssa Tears Down the Taboo of Having Mental Health Struggles

In recognition of Mental Health Month, On the Pulse will be sharing valuable resources and inspiring patient stories each week to guide individuals and families struggling with mental health issues and help destigmatize the topic of mental health in our society.

Alyssa Scott, 17, is a senior in high school. She’s an honor student, participates in her school’s Model United Nations program and is currently taking college-level classes.

By her positive demeanor and ambitious attitude, you would think she’s just like any regular teen.

But there’s more to Alyssa than meets the eye.

Like many individuals, Alyssa lives with mental health issues.

“Even though people might not see it, I struggle every day,” Alyssa said. “Some days are worse than others, but it’s always there.”

For Alyssa, there’s been many obstacles she’s faced in life that have molded her relationship with her mental health. Yet with her strong sense of will and determination, she’s come to a point in her life where she can keep her struggles at bay.

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Do Llama Nanobodies Hold the Secret to Fighting COVID-19 in Humans?

More than 50 research studies to understand, detect, treat and prevent the coronavirus in children and families have launched at Seattle Children’s since the virus emerged in late 2019. The following post is part of the “Quest(ion) for Discovery” series highlighting this research in progress and the search for answers that could result in major scientific breakthroughs that save lives and slow the spread of the virus.

At Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Dr. John Aitchison co-leads the Center for Global Infectious Disease Research, the largest pediatric infectious disease research group in the U.S.

Aitchison’s lab and a team of scientists from Rockefeller University are researching how nanobodies produced by a llama’s immune system can be used to develop a therapy that eliminates COVID-19 in humans. Here he answers the question: Do llama nanobodies hold the secret to fighting COVID-19 in humans? Read full post »


Expert-Tested Tools to Manage Your Child’s Mental Health

In recognition of Mental Health Month, On the Pulse will be sharing valuable resources and inspiring patient stories each week to guide individuals and families struggling with mental health issues and help destigmatize the topic of mental health in our society.

Managing a child’s mental health can feel like an uphill battle with no end in sight. Often times, parents and caregivers feel lost when it comes to navigating through their child’s emotions when they are experiencing a mental health crisis or mitigating a situation before, during and after a crisis occurs.

Some of the best resources to help parents and caregivers better understand their child’s mental health are the same tools providers routinely use for any patient coming into Seattle Children’s with a mental health issue. Developed by pediatric mental health experts at Seattle Children’s and used in clinic for over a decade, the escalation cycle is one such tool that parents and caregivers can easily adapt to use at home.

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Can a Greater Understanding of COVID-19 in Children Reduce the Overall Impact of the Coronavirus?

More than 50 research studies to understand, detect, treat and prevent the coronavirus in children and families have launched at Seattle Children’s since the virus emerged in late 2019. This is the first post in a new weekly series called “Quest(ion) for Discovery” highlighting this research in progress and the search for answers that could result in major scientific breakthroughs that save lives and slow the spread of the virus.

As the senior vice president and chief academic officer at Seattle Children’s, Dr. Leslie R. Walker-Harding helps set the vision for Seattle Children’s Research Institute, one of the top five pediatric research programs in the country. Here she addresses the question: Can a greater understanding of COVID-19 in children reduce the overall impact of the coronavirus?

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Home Safety During COVID-19: Preventing Medicine Misuse, and Alcohol and Drug Use

Dr. Yolanda Evans and social worker Erik Schlocker of Seattle Children’s Adolescent Medicine Clinic bring you this post as part of our Supporting Mental Wellness and Family Life During COVID-19 efforts.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way humanity lives. We are sheltering in place, changing our patterns of social interactions, and relying on virtual connections to maintain relationships with people in our lives. The changes have been stressful for all of us.

For teens, the pandemic has meant school closures, missing normal, close personal connection with peers, inability to give hugs to friends as high school graduation season approaches, and potential for increases in anxiety and depression symptoms. Read full post »


Kawasaki Disease in Children with COVID-19

Although children don’t typically fall seriously ill from the new coronavirus, doctors in Europe are now expressing concern that children with COVID-19 have developed mysterious symptoms that mimic those appearing with Kawasaki disease.

On the Pulse asked Dr. Michael Portman, pediatric cardiologist and director of the Kawasaki Disease Clinic at Seattle Children’s, to help break this emerging issue down for parents and caregivers. Read full post »


Navigating the Trials of Being a Teen during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Adria Cooper, 17, shares her experience dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Being a teenager isn’t easy by any means. With school, friends, and extracurricular activities, along with added the pressure of increased responsibilities and desire for more independence, teens are battling a load of complex emotions on a day-by-day basis.

Now, top off their struggles with a global pandemic that’s completely transformed their lives, and they’ve got a whole new set of challenges they must navigate ahead of them.

“Being away from school and friends feels very weird,” said Adria Cooper, 17, a junior in high school. “Sometimes I am happy to be on my own and not have to worry about what other people think. I can do what I want, but other days I feel very isolated and lonely.”

As a society as a whole, it’s not surprising that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about increased feelings of loss, grief, uncertainty and loneliness.

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