Recognizing and Reacting to Concussion

Thursday, April 26, 2012 11:24 AM comments (0)

Concussion-SymptomsYour son knocks helmets with a teammate on the ice. Your daughter heads the ball during a soccer match. Your linebacker goes down after a rough tackle. By nature of the game, participating in sports puts your children at greater risk of concussion and head injury.

Proper prevention and education can help keep your family safe. Julian Bailes, MD, Former NFL and NCAA Team Physician, Current Medical Director for Pop Warner Football and Co-Director of the NorthShore Neurological Institute says it’s important for parents to know the symptoms of concussion to watch for, which include:

  • Headache
  • Memory disturbance
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty with balance
  • Visual problems
  • Trouble concentrating on school work
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Sleep problems

It is important to recognize that symptoms of a concussion may not be immediate. For this reason it is very important that parents, coaches, trainers and teammates are mindful of injuries and pull athletes from a game anytime injury is suspected. Any signs or symptoms of concussion should be taken seriously and should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.

Get immediate treatment and be smart about when you send your athlete back in the game after they heal.

What safety measures to you put in place to reduce injury? What other questions do you have about concussions and other sports injuries?


Safety First – Infant Car Seat Safety

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 9:18 AM comments (0)

Car Seat Safety

From the moment you take your newborn home from the hospital to every time you get in the car to run errands, it is essential to make sure that your infant is safe, well supported and secure in his car seat. Proper seating can help greatly reduce your child’s risk for permanent injury if you were to get into an accident.

However, just because you have proper seating for your infant, doesn’t ensure that it is being properly used or was installed correctly. It is important to practice installing your new car seat and/or seek professional assistance before your infant rides in the car for the first time.

Anne Middaugh, RN, MSN, CPS Technician, Community Health Specialist at NorthShore offers her insight on proper child safety seat installation:

  • Read both the instructions that come with the child restraint and the owner’s manual of your vehicle. The owner’s manual can be very informative as to the best place to use the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system. For example, usually the best place for an infant seat is in the center of the back seat. Many vehicle manufacturers do not put LATCH points in the center seat because it is narrower than the side seats. The owner’s manual will tell parents whether they may use the side LATCH points or if they have to use the vehicle seat belt for the center position.
  • Do not use both the LATCH and seat belts for securing the car seat. Believe it or not, it is more dangerous to use both than only one. Whenever we stop fast in our vehicles, there are three stops the body goes through:
  1. The car stops.
  2. Objects inside the car keep moving until something stops them. This would be a seat belt for adults, children in belt-positioning booster seats, and the child restraint itself. If LATCH is used, then it is the restraint harness holding the child in the seat.
  3. For infants and children, if you were to use both the seat belt and the LATCH, an additional stop is added to the series. Instead of allowing for the seat belt or LATCH to “stretch” to lessen the shock of a rapid stop, the seat belt stops the child seat, the LATCH stops the seat again and the harness stops the child. It is safer to allow the LATCH or the vehicle’s seat belt to do the job alone.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommend that all children be rear-facing until they are two years old or until they reach the highest weight/height allowed by the car safety seat manufacturer. At the very least, children should remain rear-facing until they are at least one year old and 20 pounds. This means that once your infant outgrows the car seat carrier, the next seat should be a convertible seat that is placed rear-facing. The child should continue to ride rear-facing until he or she is at least two years old or reaches the height/weight limits imposed by the child car seat manufacturer for rear-facing passengers.

Where did you install your child’s car seat? What resources helped you determine the best place to put it?


Earth Day – Live Well, Eat Well

Thursday, April 19, 2012 12:14 PM comments (0)

Earth DayThis Sunday is Earth Day! It is a great day to celebrate the earth and your health.

Geeta Maker-Clark, MD, integrative family physician at NorthShore, provides some tips on how you can stay healthy while being mindful of the environment:

  • Drink plenty of water a day, to your thirst, and up to 8 glasses. Among its many benefits, drinking sufficient water each day will keep your body hydrated and can regulate your weight by decreasing the amount that you eat. To help reduce waste, drink tap water or filtered water instead of bottled water. If you do drink bottled water, be sure to recycle.
  • Exercise for at least 150 minutes every week. This should combine moderate aerobic exercise (such as walking or jogging) and muscle-strengthening exercises. If you can, get outside for some fresh air and exercise. If you can walk or ride your bike to work you’ll help reduce greenhouse gases produced by cars.
  • Make half of your plate at every meal vegetables and fruits of different colors. Eat 2 ½ -3 cups of vegetables and 1½ -2 cups of fruit a day. Try to buy more local, seasonal and organic foods.
  • Compost. Not only does composting reduce the amount of garbage thrown out over the course of year, but it also makes a great fertilizer for your garden.
  • Grow a garden. If it isn’t warm enough to start seedlings outside, begin preparing your garden indoors. Once it is nice enough outside, transfer your planters and pots. The satisfaction that comes from eating what you grow yourself is priceless!

What tips do you have for Earth Day? What do you do to help protect our planet?


Childhood Autism – Know the Signs

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 8:36 AM comments (0)

AutismMore and more children are being diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorders —a range of neurobiological disorders that are best managed when they are diagnosed early. It is estimated that one in 110 children is affected by autism and that boys are four times more likely than girls to have the condition.

Some signs of autism can be detected in very early childhood. It is important for parents and other caretakers to be aware of concerning signs and behavioral patterns so that children can be evaluated as soon as possible.

Sara Wiemer, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, identifies some of the signs of autistic spectrum disorders in children:

  • Delayed speech and language skills
  • Lack of normal nonverbal skills like making eye contact with others, using facial expressions and gestures like pointing
  • Difficulty understanding other people’s feelings and expressing their own feelings
  • Repeating words or phrases
  • Strict adherence to routines - getting very upset about minor changes
  • Having obsessive interests
  • Unusual body movements, such as flapping hands, rocking or spinning
  • Lack of make-believe play or imitating other people when playing
  • Inability to form relationships with peers

Have you noticed any of these signs of autism in your child? Don’t hesitate to bring your concerns to your child’s pediatrician.


Snack Time – Giving your Kids a Healthy, Energy-packed snack

Thursday, April 12, 2012 8:32 AM comments (0)

Healthy Snacks

Walk down the snack food aisle at a grocery store and you’ll find the aisle packed full of chips, cookies, crackers and candies. With all the snack options available, it’s often too easy to overlook nutritional facts and the healthiest choice. Despite this, it’s important to know what foods will best restore energy without spoiling appetite and off-setting a diet.

Michael Rakotz, MD, gives some quick, healthy snack alternatives for kids (and adults too!)

  • Skinny Pop Popcorn. At 35 calories per cup, you can’t beat this delicious snack for kids.
  • Sliced vegetables. Use either a pureed vegetable (such as peas or carrots) for a dip. You can also use a yogurt dressing, as they often have half the fat and calories of other brands.
  • Hummus is packed with protein and makes for a great snack. Serve it with veggies instead of bread or crackers.
  • Mixed nuts are high in protein and require no preparation. When eaten in moderation, they contain the fat that is good for a balanced diet.
  • Sweet potatoes are very nutrition dense, making for a great alternative to white potatoes.

 What are some of your favorite snack choices? What is your go-to healthy snack?


Alcohol Abuse – When is Too Much, Too Much?

Monday, April 09, 2012 8:41 AM comments (0)

Alcohol AbuseAt times it may seem that drinking alcohol is embedded into our daily lives. We clink glasses to celebrate milestones and happy times, while watching sporting events and at social gatherings.

Although a moderate consumption of alcohol — according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans this means no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks a day for men—may not directly impact your health, when do you know if you or someone you know has a problem?

Laura Parise, MD, Psychiatrist at NorthShore, lists some of the common signs of alcoholism and alcohol abuse:

  • Need to drink alcohol to have a good time, relax or feel better.
  • Forget on a frequent basis what you were doing when drinking, which may include blacking out.
  • Encounter relationship problems with partners, family members, friends and coworkers. These problems are often fueled by drinking.
  • Loss of interest in hobbies, past times and your personal life.
  • Family history of alcoholism or alcohol abuse.
  • Think about consuming alcohol throughout the day. This may include drinking before lunch, on the job or while driving.
  • Feel guilty or ashamed about drinking habits. This commonly includes hiding bottles, drinking alone, lying about your consumption or sneaking drinks away from others.
  • Increased tolerance for alcohol consumption. More drinks need to be consumed in order for you to feel the effects of alcohol.
  • Become irritable when alcohol isn’t available or your daily drinking schedule is interrupted.

If you or someone you know relates to the above statement, it is recommended you seek assistance from your physician.

What other information would be of interest to you about this topic?


Maximize Fresh Air Fitness and Reduce Your Odds for Injury

Thursday, April 05, 2012 8:42 AM comments (0)

Sports InjuriesDust off those running shoes and find that soccer, football and/or basketball equipment in the garage or basement because warmer weather is here. And, with spring officially in the air, many of us who had limited exposure to exercise and outdoor activities during the winter begin our regimen.

Not only is spring a busy time for high school and college athletes, but it’s also a time for weekend warriors—those who do much of their physical activity during the weekend—to engage in recreational sports.

Adam Bennett, MD, team physician for U.S. Soccer and the Chicago Bears, offers practical advice to weekend warriors, and high school and college athletes, to reduce injury risk while enjoying outdoor activities:

  • Weekend warriors and recreational athletes should try to include some sort of training and exercise during the week to strengthen muscles. This is especially important for the muscle groups that you will be using in your dominant sport. Implementing this into your weekly routine one to two times can greatly decrease your chances for injury.
  • Teenagers actively involved in sports are encouraged to take a few days off. Not only will this positively impact performance, but it also can help prevent injuries.
  • Teenagers should also be sure to eat well and properly fuel their bodies both before and between practices. Vegetables and lean proteins are a great source of necessary nutrition. Staying well hydrated is also essential.
  • Regardless of how frequently you partake in sports, be sure that if you suffered an injury you have fully recovered and healed before you return to the sport or activity.

What sports do you play? What do you do to reduce your risk for injuries?


Guest Post: Arif Dalvi, MD, MBA - A Pacemaker for the Brain: DBS and Parkinson’s Disease

Tuesday, April 03, 2012 8:57 AM comments (0)

In Parkinson’s disease (PD) low levels of dopamine in the brain lead to the symptoms of tremor, slowness, stiffness and difficulty walking. There is an easy way to replace dopamine with Sinemet tablets. The levodopa in these tablets is converted to dopamine in the brain and helps relieve the symptoms. Why then should we consider a surgical treatment for PD?DBS and Parkinson's Disease

Over time, patients on PD show a fluctuating response to medications. A dose that would last four to six hours now lasts for two or three hours. In between doses, the symptoms return with a vengeance. In addition there may be involuntary movements called dyskinesias or a severe tremor not controlled despite increasing doses of medications.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery is a way out of this predicament. While not a cure, it can set the clock back on the severity of the disease. Some patients can reduce medication doses thereby reducing the side effects. Tremor, dyskinesias and muscle rigidity are symptoms that improve the most. Patients show a longer duration of action of medications following surgery.

The surgery is a three-part process that involves placing an electrode in the brain connected to a pacemaker device placed under the skin in the chest. The first part maps the brain using MRI techniques. To further improve the accuracy of the electrode placement, the NorthShore DBS team uses a sophisticated brain mapping technique called microelectrode recording. The third part involves placing the pacemaker and connecting it to the brain electrode. Patients typically return home in 2-3 days after surgery.


The NorthShore DBS team has over 15 years of experience with DBS surgery. Dr. Dalvi has been involved with training neurologists nationally on managing the DBS pacemaker settings following surgery. When medications for PD fail it is time to consider DBS surgery.

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