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Pre-Concussion Testing for Kids

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Did you know that 50 percent of concussions may go unreported? Head injuries are on the rise for athletes at all levels of play. It is estimated that between 1.6 and 3.8 million concussions occur in the U.S. each year during competitive sports and recreational activities.* My fellow licensed athletic trainers (LATs) and I have become very concerned with these statistics, which is why we have partnered with ImPACT in an effort to provide state-of-the-art concussion care to athletes throughout the Fox Valley.

What is the Community Baseline Project?
It is a program that offers a Baseline ImPACT computerized test for any local athlete who does not already have access to a cognitive test through their club or school. These tests are to be done before a concussion occurs in order to establish a baseline or “normal” cognitive score.

The test costs $10 and takes about 25 minutes to complete. Several Affinity providers, including myself, who are trained in concussion management and ImPACT testing, can administer the test. These baseline tests are suggested every two years, starting at age 11 (must be 11 years old at the time of the test). Baseline reports help serve as a comparison to a repeat ImPACT test if a concussion is suspected. This helps assess the damage caused by a concussion.

The ImPACT test is a computer-based testing of neurocognitive responses (i.e. – memory, concentration, eye-hand speed, processing and reaction). All of these are improved with good rest and healthy habits. Getting rest and proper nutrition is essential to performing at each person’s optimal level. See “how to prepare” section below for details. Continue Reading »

Tiny gardens: tips for planting container herbs

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Simon and Garfunkel sang a great song about parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, but these herbs are also fabulous to grow and use in your meals. While many individuals do not have green space to grow a full-fledged garden, with a little time, effort and love many can be successful at growing container herbs.

Growing herbs such as basil, chives or cilantro in pots allows you to have them close at hand, perhaps right on the kitchen counter or on a window sill, patio or porch. Not only will these herbs provide you with ingredients for your foods, but they will also add greenery to your living space.

Below are a few tips to get you started on growing your container herbs.

  1. Light. Sun is crucial for growth. Most herbs originate from sunny regions and thus will need exposure to sun for at least eight hours a day. If growing the herbs inside, identify your south-facing window and place your containers to receive the most of the sun through that window. If planting outdoors, place in a sunny spot, protected from the wind.
  2. Seeds or plants? Despite the late arrival of spring, you might be better off starting your herb garden from plants. That means you may have to purchase small herb plants that are ready to go outside or be transplanted into a container for growing indoors. Starting from seeds is less expensive, and you can start seeds right in the pot you will be growing them in. However, these should be started two months in advance of spring, in full sun.
  3. Drainage. The container you will be growing your herbs in must have a nice size hole on the bottom so excess water can drain out. The last thing you need is water-drenched herb roots that will end up rotting. Continue Reading »

5 integrative medicine recommendations for cancer patients

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Cancer affects the whole person: body, mind and spirit, not just the system it targets. Many find that cancer treatment best serves a patient when conventional treatments targeting the body are supported by integrative medicine approaches that help body, mind and spirit. Research-based, proven methods are used by integrative medicine providers to help decrease the side effects of the conventional treatment such as pain, anxiety, dry mouth and sleep disturbances. While supporting the patient’s overall recovery, these five recommendations can help a patient heal and improve peace of mind:

1.)   Acupuncture – Originating 3,000 years ago in China, acupuncture involves placing fine needles into specific points on the body to elicit a healing response. The stimulation of these needles corrects the flow of energy, or qi, along channels throughout the body, called meridians. Studies show acupuncture can help with nausea and dry mouth. The treatment can also be helpful for pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression and stress.

2.)   Massage therapy – Another treatment that has been used for thousands of years, massage therapy is a way to heal the body, maintain wellness and to demonstrate compassionate support to others through touch. There are more than 250 variations of massage and bodywork techniques, each helping to induce relaxation, soothe muscles and promote healing. A Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center study showed a 50 percent reduction in the symptoms of fatigue, pain and anxiety in cancer patients when they received regular massage therapy treatments. Continue Reading »

The Transition from Cancer Patient to Survivor

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I attended a cancer continuing education course back in ’10-‘11 which covered all manner of topics related to patients that have been diagnosed with cancer. One of the most interesting pieces of advice that our speaker gave and that many different groups are taking up as well is that an individual becomes a cancer survivor the moment they are diagnosed. Maybe it would be difficult for you, but I know that personally it would take me less than 2 minutes to name at least 10 people or more that have been diagnosed with some type of cancer within the last 1-2 years alone. Survivorship is extremely different and personal to each individual and can even be separated into different descriptive terms depending on the stage that person is at within their care:

  • Acute survivorship – refers to right after diagnosis or during treatment
  • Extended survivorship – completion of treatment or several months post
  • Permanent survivorship – after treatment has been completed and measured in years Continue Reading »

Newborn screening for Cystic Fibrosis: a vital first test

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May was National Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month, but it’s never a bad time to be mindful of the condition that affects approximately one in 2,500 to one in 3,500 Caucasian newborns. Cystic fibrosis causes thick, sticky mucus to build up and impact certain organs such as the lungs and pancreas. To facilitate early treatment and minimize symptoms, all infants in Wisconsin are tested for cystic fibrosis during their newborn screenings.

Newborn screening, a test that reaches each of the more than four million babies born in the United States every year, is coordinated on the state level by the public health department. It ensures that all babies are screened for certain serious conditions at birth, and it allows providers to immediately start treatment for babies who are identified with a condition. This testing is important because many babies born with one of the testable conditions may not initially look or act differently, so parents and providers may not otherwise know there is a reason to be concerned. The sooner a condition is caught, the more proactive providers can be with treatment. Continue Reading »

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