• healthevisits

What parents and caregivers need to know about infant equipment and play positions

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Equipment such as car seats, swings, exersaucers and walkers are convenient for parents of infants, but what many don’t realize is that these items can cause concerns or delays with children’s development. Research has shown that using these items for long periods of time may lead to delayed motor development, decreased balance and body control as well as torticollis, plagiocephaly and toe walking.

Torticollis
Torticollis is a preference of turning the head in one direction, sometimes with a tilt or muscle tightness. Incidents of torticollis have increased since parents were encouraged to place babies on their backs to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is said to be associated with infants sleeping on their stomachs.

Plagiocephaly
One in three infants have some degree of skull distortion. While babies’ head are malleable within the first six weeks after birth, plagiocephaly is an asymmetry or deformity of the head and/or face that continues beyond that six-week mark and should be evaluated by a physician. Early diagnosis is crucial!

Toe walking
Toe walking is consistent walking on the toes. This can lead to calf muscle tightness, impaired walking and balance, and increased risk of falls.

Parents are still encouraged to place babies on their backs when sleeping, but to also work on active, awake, and supervised tummy time with their babies to avoid these conditions. Tummy time can be done a variety of ways, such as on the parent/caregiver’s chest, over the lap, or with a towel roll under his/her chest. Also, consider approaching your baby from both sides to encourage your baby to rotate his/her head in either direction. Continue Reading »

Effective ways to manage fibromyalgia

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Sometimes the aches and pains of getting older are more than average body fatigue. If you are experiencing all-over body pain, increased tenderness to the touch, fatigue and problems with sleep and memory, you could be suffering from fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a non-life-threatening, chronic health problem that occurs most commonly in middle-aged women. It is less common—but not unheard of—in men as well as in younger individuals.

Aside from the commonly experienced symptoms mentioned above, individuals might also experience depression, anxiety, headaches and digestive problems. The symptoms of fibromyalgia can vary in intensity, sometimes leaving the person feeling as if the pain is taking over their life.

Research is ongoing to determine the cause of fibromyalgia, but there are several theories that are currently being studied. These theories include possible genetic or hereditary links, changes in levels of brain chemicals related to stress, and possible changes in the brain’s processing system regarding pain. Continue Reading »

Mumps and rubella – what you need to know

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The MMR vaccine has become common practice, so much so that many people are no longer familiar with the diseases it inoculates us against. MMR stands for measles, mumps and rubella. Of the three viruses, mumps and rubella are the least contagious but can still cause serious complications.

Mumps
Usually seen as a mild disease in children, symptoms of mumps include:

  • General aches and pains
  • Headache
  • Low-grade fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Painful and swollen glands in the cheeks, neck or under the jaw
  • Runny nose
  • Tiredness

Caught through sneezes and coughs of infected carriers, the symptoms of mumps typically subside after about two weeks, and it’s no longer considered contagious about 10 days after diagnosis. As a virus, this illness is not responsive to antibiotics and needs to run its course. Most people fully recover, but in some instances serious complications include pancreatitis, brain inflammation and partial or total deafness. On rare occasions, mumps can cause infertility in men or a spontaneous miscarriage in women. Continue Reading »

Managing chronic pain with physical therapy

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Approximately 100 million Americans suffer from pain lasting longer than six months. Chronic, long lasting pain can be due to an injury or conditions like fibromyalgia or arthritis. People with chronic pain can become less active because of their pain, resulting in decreased muscle flexibility and strength, decreased activity endurance and unbalanced postures. When someone has chronic pain, it can be difficult to know how to start an exercise program safely without aggravating the pain. Exercise should be an important part of everyone’s routine, especially if you have chronic pain. Exercise releases natural endorphins, or brain chemicals, that help improve your mood while also blocking pain signals into the blood stream. Exercise has another pain-reducing effect: it strengthens muscles, helping prevent re-injury and further pain.

This is where physical therapy within the Pain Management Program at Mercy Medical Center can help. Physical therapy starts with an individualized assessment to determine each person’s individual needs. Just as people have different body types, they have different patterns of movement, different alignments and different habits. Physical therapists monitor each individual and develop a program to correct what is causing pain. Most home exercise programs include gentle stretching, strengthening exercises, pain relief exercises and low-impact aerobic conditioning. If you want to learn about water exercise options or transition to a gym exercise routine, physical therapy can help with that, too. Continue Reading »

Birth without fear: the benefits of hypnobirthing

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There is a plethora of information offered to pregnant women regarding birthing a baby. Friends, family, even strangers feel the need to tell women about their birthing stories. Some of them are unpleasant stories, but many are about strength, peace, support and the hardest but most wonderful event of a woman’s life. No woman ever forgets her birth story.

One increasingly popular way of giving birth is hypnobirthing, a method that focuses on eliminating fear in the birthing process. Fear causes tension, which stops the body from performing a normal physiologic function. When a woman is overwhelmed by fear during childbirth, stress hormones increase the heart rate and force blood to the arms and legs in the “fight or flight” response. With blood concentrated in the arms and legs, less blood circulates to the uterus, causing uterine pain and hindering the natural labor process.

For those interested in hypnobirthing, Barb Krohn, RN, currently teaches a five-class series at Mercy Medical Center. These two-and-half-hour classes teach special breathing, relaxation, visualization, meditative practice, attention to nutrition and positive body toning. Parents-to-be are provided with a CD to teach them self-hypnosis and positive affirmations. Participants in the class also receive a book that outlines the theory of hypnobirthing, suggestions for comfort during labor and special circumstances, and frequently asked questions and answers.

In my years of practice as a certified nurse midwife, I have worked with women who attended hypnobirthing classes, and I have seen these women and their partners focus hard to relax and work with their bodies to birth their baby. The hypnobirthing philosophy and education offered at Mercy Medical Center has been an excellent addition for pregnant women to guide them through their unforgettable birth story.

Register online here.

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