Category Archives: Health and Safety Tips
Finding the right words to explain an upcoming surgery to your child can be difficult. Surgery can be a stressful time for both children and parents. In fact, it is estimated that between 50 and 75 percent of children undergoing surgery develop significant stress and anxiety in the days leading up to surgery.
Fortunately, many studies have shown that adequately preparing your child before surgery can help decrease their stress and anxiety. According to one recent study, children who underwent preparation for their surgery, including tours and information provided in a developmentally appropriate format, were less likely to have anxiety before surgery and were more likely to report a positive surgery experience.
To help you and your child prepare for an upcoming surgery, we’ve created a child-friendly “Planning for your Surgery” video. This video will walk you and your child through the steps that will occur when you come in for your surgery. It stars an actual Gillette patient and current Gillette staff members in their day-to-day roles. You can view the video here: Preparing for Surgery at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare
If you have questions about your upcoming surgery, contact our Pre-Op department at 651-229-3918 or 1-800-719-4040. If you would like to schedule a pre-surgery tour of our hospital with a Child Life Specialist, please call 651-229-3855.
Kain, Z.V., Mayes, L.C., Caldwell-Andrews, A.A., Karas, D.E. & McClain, B.C. (2006). Preoperative anxiety, postoperative pain, and behavioral recovery in young children undergoing surgery. Pediatrics, 118(2), 651-658.
Perry, J.N., Hooper, V.D. & Masiongale, J.(2012). Reducation of preoperative anxiety in pediatric surgery patients using age-appropriate teaching interventions. Journal of Perianesthesia Nursing, 27(2), 69-81.
About the Author
Cheryl Tveit, RN, MSN, CAPA, is a PeriAnesthesia nurse at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.
By: Jennifer Laine, M.D.
This week’s wintry weather leaves most of us Minnesotans thinking fondly ahead to spring—and wishing we could do something to speed its arrival! Unfortunately, in other areas of the country, warmer temperatures recently brought horrific news of a lawnmower accident that badly injured a Florida toddler.
As a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, stories like this are especially difficult because I see, firsthand, the consequences such injuries can have on children. Although it takes just seconds for an accident to occur, children often struggle with the aftereffects for a lifetime.
A lawnmower blade’s damage to still-developing bones and growth plates can put children at risk for limb-length discrepancies and permanent orthopedic deformities. As we just saw in Florida, children can also lose their limbs entirely.
Whether Minnesotans believe it or not, spring—and mowing season—IS just around the corner. That’s why I hope you’ll take a moment to read these important safety tips, and review them with your loved ones. Serious injuries are, fortunately, 100 percent preventable. Let’s work together for a fun, and a safe, mowing season.
Who Should Mow?
- Children should be at least 12 years-old before operating any lawn mower.
- Children are at least 16 to operate a riding mower.
Before You Mow
- Keep children indoors while mowing.
- Never allow a child to ride on a riding lawn mower with the operator.
- Pick up stones, toys and debris from the lawn to prevent injuries from flying objects.
- Never allow children to play on a lawn mower, even if it is turned off.
- Never mow barefoot – wear shoes, not sandals.
- Use eye and hearing protection.
- Only use mowers with automatic shutdown abilities, such as those with a control that stops motion when the handle is released.
- Don’t mow in reverse.
* These safety tips are based on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy statement, Lawn Mower Injuries to Children.
Spring ahead! If you and your child are natural early birds, you might feel better rested this week. On the other hand, moving to daylight savings time can be a tough adjustment for natural night owls; they have the advantage in autumn, when the clocks “fall back.”
How do these twice-a-year changes affect sleep patterns for children and teens?
For teenagers, who on average are already sleep deprived from early school starting times, this week is a particular challenge! When the bell rings at school, their brains will be jet-lagged for another hour.
So, what helps?
Understand if you or your kids feel a bit “off-kilter” this week. We all might be a bit drowsier or crankier as our brains and bodies adjust. Light exposure resets our body rhythms. Using dim lights and room-darkening shades at bedtime, and eliminating screen time (television, computers and texts) an hour before bedtime, can help. In the morning, bright lights can help you get moving.
Two bits of good news: the majority of kids adjust within a few days to a few weeks. And spring is just around the corner!
Laurel Wills, M.D., is board-certified in general pediatrics, developmental-behavioral pediatrics and sleep medicine. She has joined the Gillette Sleep Health Clinic as a specialist in pediatric and adolescent sleep medicine, with a particular focus on caring for children and youth with developmental disabilities.
The Sleep Health Clinic at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare is dedicated to meeting the needs of children, teens, and young adults who have disabilities. Our clinic offers comprehensive, family-focused care in a facility that is specially designed for children with complex conditions. Sleep disorders disproportionately affect children who have cerebral palsy, craniofacial conditions, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, epilepsy, and other neurologic conditions. Often, these children may already have health issues that can be further complicated by sleep problems. Our pediatric sleep physicians work closely with families to resolve sleep disorders and achieve a better night’s rest.
On our Facebook page, we asked you to submit your sleep health questions for Dr. John Garcia to answer. You can read the questions and answers below. As always, we recommend you consult with your health care provider.
Q.What kind of affects can sleep apnea and obstructive breathing have on a child if it has gone untreated for many years? This child is not trached yet but is finally being treated at the age of 11. Can it affect other organs in her body?
A. I address this problem by systems. Untreated OS can cause difficulties with attention and can also lead to daytime sleepiness. If there is a history of seizures, it can make the seizures harder to control. From a pulmonary point of view, I can see increased incidence of pneumonia. Acutely untreated OSA can lead to sedation associated respiratory compromise. OSA can cause reflux. Untreated OSA can lead to right heart strain though this is quite rare. Untreated OSA can lead to metabolic diseases including insulin resistance, obesity, and lipid abnormalities.
Q. Some parents have wondered what to do about night terrors. Can Dr. Garcia provide some tips?
A. Night terrors are a subcategory of parsomanias which including sleepwalking, confusional arousals, and bed wetting. People who sleep too deeply are at increased risk for parasomnias. Good sleep hygiene is key to preventing night terrors. This means regular wake and bed times, predictable nap opportunities and a controlled sleep environment. If these episodes are occurring more than three times a week or are associated with injury then a sleep consultation is an option. Safety precautions including bells or buzzers on a child’s door and outside doors are another option.
Q. I have a sleep question. My son was born with congenital cytomegalovirus and he use to sleep good. Well the doc just diagnosed him with autism. He can go all day w/o a nap and go to bed at 8:00 pm and be back up by 11:00pm ready to go and is non stop until 3:00 am when he falls asleep again until 12:00 pm. I need help and sleep. I have tried to switch his sleeping around but he still is on the go. Please help.
A. About 86% of children with Autism have a sleep disorder, often insomnia. A sleep doctor would be a great place to start, who may recommend a trial of melatonin.
Q. Possible sleep apnea in a 13 year old boy with Downs. We haven’t been able to do a successful sleep test to determine if it is indeed sleep apnea. Any suggestions?
A sleep consultation should help to sort out whether a sleep study is needed. If there are symptoms consistent with OSA but a polysomnogram is not feasible, then overnight oximetry may help determine whether there is an associated severe oxygen desaturation. There are non-CPAP treatments available as well such as high flow if a 13 year old will not tolerate a CPAP
A board-certified sleep specialist, John Garcia, M.D., works with Gillette patients who have disabilities and associated sleep disorders. Such disorders include obstructive sleep apnea, sleepwalking, circadian rhythm disorders, and restless legs syndrome. He uses a combination of behavior management, medications, surgery and other therapies in his practice.
Dr. Garcia is a graduate of the University of Iowa School of Medicine. He completed a residency in pediatrics and one year of fellowship training in behavioral/developmental pediatrics at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Ind. He then completed a sleep fellowship equivalent at the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Minneapolis. Dr. Garcia holds clinics at Gillette’s main campus in St. Paul and at the Burnsville Clinic.
His professional associations include the American Board of Sleep Medicine and the American Board of Pediatrics.
An Airplane Trip With Your Special Needs Child?
By Shalleen Nelson
I did it, and so can you! I am a proud mom to 5-year-old Sebastian, a longtime Gillette patient, who was born with Down syndrome and neurological issues. I’m also mother to Francesco, Sebastian’s typically-developing twin brother.
Sebastian loves to discover new places! Fortunately for our family, travel has become a smooth process with practice and preparation. Have a question for me? Please leave it in the “Comments” section below! I’ll continue to share advice on vacationing, from camping trips to hotel stays, in the months to come. I’ll begin by sharing my “Top Tips” on fun, and safe, airplane travel.
- Check-in online and print your boarding passes from home.
- Request to change your seating arrangements if necessary. You can do this before security at the check-in counter, or by speaking with an agent at the gate.
- Alert the gate agent of your special needs, and ask to be boarded first.
- Take direct flights (no layovers!) if possible, and aim for 3 hours maximum air time.
- There is always a handicap security line – just ask!
- Did you know children can leave their shoes on when going through security?
- Children in wheelchairs can often remain in their chair, so be sure to ask.
- You may bring more than the allotted carry-on fluid if it’s clearly labeled as a liquid medication for your child. Consider a physician’s note, in case of questions.
In the Air
- Keep drinks and snacks handy to help with cabin pressure changes during take-off and landing. Swallowing and chewing will help ease eardrum pain.
- Bring several options for entertainment – books, music, or a portable DVD with headphones – to keep your child busy.
Above all, remember to RELAX, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that you’re in no rush. You’ll be at your destination before you know it!
In sports played by both sexes, girls are reporting nearly twice as many concussions. This story was aired on NBC Today this morning and Dr. Angela Sinner, pediatric rehabilitation physician at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare shares her comments.
Watch the video here: Girls and Sports Related Concussions
Dr. Angela Sinner’s comment: This story shows real female student/athletes and their challenges with concussions. Two of the girls illustrate atypical, though real, outcomes following concussions. They experience long-term effects: nausea, headaches, light sensitivity, and challenges at school.
In the neurotrauma clinic at Gillette, we work hard to help patients heal properly from their concussions through rest after the injury and support as needed. Those are the first steps in attempting to prevent the long-term effects of a concussion and to avoid repeated concussions. We were told that one of these girls sat out for an extended period–the rest of her soccer season–after her first concussion.
Across the country, researchers have work to do to better understand female athletes and their risk of concussion, so we can ensure we manage their conditions optimally.
As we continue celebrating Occupational Therapy (OT) Month, did you know that occupational therapy can help some children address skills that might help them in potty training? OTs can work with children to practice dressing skills for toileting (pants, zippers, even buttons), address toilet hygiene after bathrooming, and can work with children in wheelchairs to practice transfers from chair to toilet and back. Although parents should know that OT is never a “quick fix” for potty training issues, it can address important issues – and empower children for success!
Halloween is a day for pumpkin carving, costumes and, of course, for candy. In October’s guest post from Gillette dietitians Karri Larson and Stephanie Campbell, here are some parenting tips for ramping up the ‘healthy’ factor in a sugar-filled holiday, from healthy halloween food to what to do with all that halloween candy. “It’s important to remember that Halloween is just one day of the year,” says Larson. “Make it fun and festive for your kids — but don’t let it become a season!”
• Let your kids choose a few favorite pieces of halloween candy, then donate the leftovers to a military organization, Meals on Wheels, a children or women’s shelter, or nursing home. Some dentist offices will even take candy.
• Offer to buy your kids’ candy if they have a hard time parting with it. Offer them $0.10 or $0.25 a piece, or another reward that will entice them.
• It’s never a good idea to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Similarly, it’s a bad idea for trick-or-treating! Send your kids off with a full stomach of good food from a well balanced meal.
• Give out Halloween candy alternatives like spooky-themed stickers, fun pencils, or pre-packaged popcorn, pretzels, or packs of gum.
• Give your kids a time limit for trick-or-treating, or allow them to trick-or-treat just in your local neighborhood.
• To take the focus off candy, play fun spooky games or watch a kid-friendly Halloween movie after trick-or-treating.
From all of us at Gillette, have a safe and happy Halloween!
School in full swing means family camping trips, weekends at the cabin, and other summertime activities may have ended. But it’s now, and in the months ahead, that parents should be aware of warning signs for Lyme arthritis, one of the major symptoms of Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is caused by a notorious summer pest—a deer tick—that transmits infection through its bite. Because deer ticks are tiny (about the size of a sesame seed!) they can be easy to miss. In fact, lots of people who contract Lyme disease don’t even remember being bitten until they start to show symptoms.
Luckily, most ticks do not carry Lyme disease. But it’s still important for parents to be aware of some common symptoms of Lyme arthritis: one, or several, swollen large joints (especially the knee) and a fever. Here’s Gillette rheumatologist Richard Vehe, M.D., with more on symptoms and treatment.
For more information, here’s an article on Lyme arthritis by Gillette pediatric rheumatologist Evren Akin, M.D.
For many kids, summer vacation meant staying up later than usual, sleeping in, and doing it all over again the next day. That often leads to a difficult transition in the first few weeks of the school year, when kids must adjust — often, very quickly — to a new, and earlier, schedule. But school start-times aren’t the only culprit. Anxiety and emotional adjustments can ruin a good night’s sleep just as easily. This is especially true for younger kids who are brand-new to school, or who are just embarking on their first full-days of school after half-day kindergarten.
Gillette sleep specialist Dr. John Garcia suggests ‘debriefing’ with your child after every school day — asking them, for example, about their favorite and least-favorite part. Talking through questions and worries with mom or dad can pave the way for a restful night of sleep. Here’s a short video with more tips from Dr. Garcia.
Dr. Garcia is a board-certified sleep specialist. He works with patients who have disabilities and associated sleep disorders.