Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wiihabilitation: Not Your Grandmother’s Rehab

By: Care2Learn

If you think video games are just for teenagers, think again. Nintendo’s Wii™ game system is finding new fans among therapy professionals who recognize its potential as a fun and engaging tool that can help ease the recovery process for their patients. Nowadays, “Wiihabilitation” is used more and more for stroke victims, patients recovering from broken bones or surgery, and even those living with debilitating illnesses such as multiple sclerosis. 

A recent study conducted by the Stroke Outcomes Research Unit at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto revealed that after two weeks of playing active video games such as those made for the Wii, stroke victims with weakness in their arms were able to reach out and grab objects more quickly and more easily than before. In contrast, those who played traditional card or block games showed no change in arm strength following the study.

Turning Hard Work into Play
Although physical and occupational therapy are a vital part of the recovery process for many patients, typical stretching and lifting exercises can be tedious, repetitive and sometimes painful. The Wii has changed all that, adding an element of fun and competitiveness to therapy sessions and helping to improve strength, endurance, flexibility and balance with the help of motion-sensitive handheld controllers that encourage patients to move their bodies in a way that is both beneficial and enjoyable.

The Wii Sports game collection, included with the purchase of a Nintendo Wii game console, features five games: tennis, golf, boxing, bowling and baseball—all of which help to increase upper extremity range of motion as well as muscle strength and coordination.  Patients must swing, throw, and hit a virtual target using the same arm movements involved in the actual sports, and at the same time they are improving their motor skills and gaining strength.

Wii Fit is also popular in therapeutic settings. It includes a variety of activities such as yoga and aerobic exercises and features a pressure-sensitive “balance board” upon which the player stands to participate in each activity.  Patients who have used the Wii as part of their therapy treatment have reported significant success with rehabilitation goals and much faster recovery rates.

Putting Wiihabilitation into Practice
As more facilities begin to recognize the benefits of interactive gaming for therapeutic purposes, Wiihabilitation will no doubt become even more popular in clinical settings. However, it is important to remember that the Wii is not a substitute for quality one-on-one time with a skilled therapist, but rather a tool—just like the assistive and adaptive devices used by therapists—that can be utilized periodically throughout the Plan of Care to help patients achieve their functional goals.
You can learn more about Wiihabilitation, including how to properly and effectively incorporate the Wii game system into your rehabilitation program, in our comprehensive 2-hour course, Wiihabilitation, which examines the use of Wii in therapy and helps to identify safe and appropriate usage for therapy professionals.

You can also read the article here:

Monday, January 30, 2012

7 Home Remedies to Keep your Family Healthy

As a child, it seemed that every cold virus that came along, I caught. My dad would refer to me as 'the carrier' because I would usually be the one to bring home a germ & infect the entire household with it. Colds, strep throat, stomach virus, and bronchitis loved me. (I didn't love them back.)

Once I left home & went to college (in a Philadelphia Hospital) this didn't happen any more. (Hmmm, maybe my mother's house was TOO clean and what I really needed was exposure to more germs!! ) Now, working with children all the time, I rarely get sick and when I do, its usually short lived.

However, this month, I have not been resting, exercising or eating the way I should, and I have 'caught' something that seems to be lingering, so I am revisiting my collection of  'home remedies'.  

My grandmother was the first one to use a home remedy on me. I remember one time, at her insistence, eating a big plate of fresh scallions from the garden (with olive oil to dip) that she said would 'chase away' the cold I had gotten. (Well, the scallions did get rid of the cold-and all of my friends-as they did their best to avoid me and my 'fresh green onion' aroma.)

Garlic (roasted) was another favorite remedy of my grandmother's. She told the story of her brother, who was a medic in WWI during the influenza pandemic, & how he stayed well because he kept a clove of garlic in his mouth at all times, like a lozenge. (The flu killed more people between 1918-19 than the war itself.)

It was not until years later I understood why scallions (Green Onion)  and garlic were given to me when I was getting a cold: scallions have antipyretic (fever reducer), expectorant, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. They are also full of vitamins A, C and Calcium.

Garlic has more than 150 health benefits and has strong antibiotic and anti fungal properties. It strengthens the immune system, detoxifies the blood, relieves of bronchial coughs, asthma & head colds. My grandmother, having grown up on a farm (in Pottstown, PA) with 11 brothers and sisters, knew many of these natural remedies for staying well and she used them throughout life. (There must be something to the natural way and home remedies, because she lived to be 98 years old and was rarely ever sick. But good luck getting your kids to eat a plate of scallions and roasted garlic!)

My mother's favorite remedy was pastina soup-or "Star Soup" as I used to call it. Homemade chicken broth with star pastina added was the standard 'cure' when me or my brother got sick. (One study has found that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties that will ease cold symptoms, however there has not been any double-blind scientific study to explain why chicken soup helps us feel better. Is it the steam? The nutrients? Or maybe its all that love from mom that goes into making it.)

Here are a few other remedies I have usedover the years to ease cold symptoms and strategies I use to keep my children andmyself well:
  • The best remedy for colds is a proper diet, especially fluids to clear the kidneys. Warm water mixed with lemon juice and honey or fruit juice and hot water. This helps to neutralize the acid condition in the body. Pineapple juice in particular is beneficial for this purpose.
  • Ginger is a common remedy for colds and coughs. It is a known digestive aid and can help settle the stomach and controls nausea and vomiting. Ginger tea, ginger ale and candied ginger will all help symptoms of cold and flu.
  • Lime Juice (well diluted) is highly beneficial for reducing colds and fevers. Rich in vitamin C, it eliminates toxins and reduces the duration of the infection.
  • Honey and Lemon Juice will help sooth a sore throat and help eliminate congestion respectively. Honey has antibacterial properties and will help prevent throat infections. Mix a tablespoon of each and warm slightly over stove or in microwave for about 20 seconds. Swallow it one teaspoonful at a time. (Do not give honey to children under one year of age.)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar will help relieve aches & reduce fevers. Pour 2-3 cups in warm bathwater. Yo u can also use with a compress for  muscle aches or on forehead for fever.
  • Rest and sleep helps boost the immune system and allow the body to repair and heal itself. Rest and sleep are not the same. Resting is when you are calm but fully awake and aware. Sleeping is when you are not aware. Your body needs both in order to heal and maintain balance. I have learned when to say 'no' to a project because my body needs to rest and my mind needs relax.
  • Exercise helps reduce stress, maintain metabolic balance and boost immunity by eliminating toxins from the body. Daily activitity and light exercise (such as a 10 minute leisurely walk in the absence of fever, or dehydration.) when you are starting to feel better will help  you get back to full strength much faster.
Have you tried any of these methods? Have any methods of your own? 

You can read the article here:

Friday, January 27, 2012

"Top 100 Children's Books"

The best children's stories have a shelf life of eternity. From 19th-century classics to contemporary sensations, from picture books for wee ones to tomes for teens, here are 100 not-to-be-missed titles for kids

By // 
Originally published in Today's Parent December 2010
2- to 4- year olds

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? 
by Bill Martin, Jr. and illustrated by Eric Carle, 1967. A page-turner that ignites in readers the desire to glimpse a blue horse, a purple cat and the next brilliant thing that follows.

Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear? 
by Martin Waddell and illustrated by Barbara Firth, 1992. Warm watercolours capture Big Bear’s tender attempts to banish all dark from the cave so Little Bear feels safe enough to sleep.

The Carrot Seed 
by Ruth Krauss and illustrated by Crockett Johnson, 1945. Despite warnings that the seed he planted will not grow, a little boy’s patience and self-confidence are rewarded with a carrot as big as himself.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom 
by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault, and illustrated by Lois Ehlert, 1989. Infectious, playful rhyme sends the alphabet on a romp up a coconut tree.

Goodnight Moon

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by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd, 1947. Wise Brown’s quiet poetry has lulled generations of children to sleep and enticed millions of families to hunt for the mouse on every page.

Grumpy Bird 
by Jeremy Tankard, 2007. When Bird wakes up, he’s too grumpy to eat, play or even fly, and instead starts stomping through the forest on foot. But his oblivious, happy-go-lucky friends stick to him like glue, turning Bird’s walk into an inadvertent game of follow-the-leader that makes Bird even grumpier.

Guess How Much I Love You 
by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram, 1995. It is impossible not to sigh and aw-w-w over the sweet illustrations of Little Nutbrown Hare in various stages of sleep and play as he and Big Nutbrown Hare describe their love for each other.

Maisy the Mouse series 
by Lucy Cousins, 1990. According to Cousins, Maisy “drew herself” one day when Cousins was doodling, and has since become one of the best-loved characters in children’s books.
What are some of you and your child's favorite books?
To catch all 100 of children's books, you can click here:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Parenting.com:"My Son Had Autism. Then He Didn't"

January 26, 2012
© Veer
I'm trying to hold him, but he's squirming. The airport lounge is packed with people, and I can feel all eyes on me: the dad who cannot appease his toddler. Brandy sees me struggling, and comes up with a quick fix. She flips over the stroller. She places Jackson next to it. He begins to spin one of the wheels with his hand. He keeps spinning it. Over and over and over. He's completely absorbed. I look at Brandy quizzically. She shrugs.
That snapshot of my oldest son Jackson appeared in a feature story I wrote for Babytalk roughly two years ago: “Solving the Autism Mystery.” (There may be no other story I’m more proud of. You can read ithere.)
Jackson was 3 years old at the time, and by all accounts—from mother’s intuition to the experts’ definition—he was on the spectrum. The behavioral psychologists saw what we saw, but were hesistant to make an official diagnosis. The brain is still developingSo much can change in six months. So time passed. 4Ts became 5Ts. Birthday candles were lit, blown out, and saved in the kitchen drawer. By age 6, the appointments with the behavioral psychologist were over. The books came off the nightstand. The tears were redirected to other things like sad movies and kindergarten graduations.
That’s the thing with autism: There is no pathology. It’s not in the blood. It doesn’t appear when you shine a penlight into the pupil. Injuries don’t cause it. Biopsies don’t detect it. Medicine can’t fix it. It’s behavior—averted gaze, preoccupation with patterns and repetition, hyper-sensitivity to certain sounds and textures, etc.—that earns the diagnosis.
Earlier this week, some parents picked up the New York Times and discovered their child may no longer have autism. The New York Times reported that the American Psychiatric Association is considering a new definition of autism, which would no longer include many of the children and adults currently diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome or Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). In other words, high-functioning people on the spectrum would no longer fit the bill. Read more about it inour Show & Tell blog.
Put away your picket signs. Delete that angry email from your “drafts” folder. There isn’t anything to scream or rant about. How can you blame the experts for changing the definition of something they're still struggling to define? A study highlighted in Pediatrics focused on 61 children aged 14 to 35 months who were on the spectrum. Two years after their initial diagnosis, 20 percent of those children no longer met the ASD criteria, which suggests that either the children are improving or were misdiagnosed from the start. And consider this: Approximately 1 in every 91 children ages 3 to 17 was on the autism spectrum in 2007, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Five years earlier, that figure was 1 in 150. Four years before that, it was 1 in 1,000. Is it our increasing awareness that’s making those figures skyrocket? Is something mutating in our DNA? Does it lurk in our cleaning products or groundwater?
For our family, the autism spectrum was like the Alaskan winter. There was no light. All day, all night. On and on and on. It seemed like the darkness would never stop. Then one day, a yolk-hued color broke across the horizon. And it stayed. But we haven't forgotten what the darkness was like.
Have you or anyone you know experienced a radical change like this? What can we do to prevent these change in definitions? 
You can read the full article here: 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

ScienceDaily: "Babies Born with Intuitive Physics"

ScienceDaily (Jan. 24, 2012) — While it may appear that infants are helpless creatures that only blink, eat, cry and sleep, one University of Missouri researcher says that studies indicate infant brains come equipped with knowledge of "intuitive physics."
"In the MU Developmental Cognition Lab, we study infant knowledge of the world by measuring a child's gaze when presented with different scenarios," said Kristy vanMarle, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences in the College of Arts and Science. "We believe that infants are born with expectations about the objects around them, even though that knowledge is a skill that's never been taught. As the child develops, this knowledge is refined and eventually leads to the abilities we use as adults."
In a review of related scientific literature from the past 30 years, vanMarle and Susan Hespos of Northwestern University found that the evidence for intuitive physics occurs in infants as young as two months -- the earliest age at which testing can occur. At that age, infants show an understanding that unsupported objects will fall and that hidden objects do not cease to exist. Scientific testing also has shown that by five months, infants have an expectation that non-cohesive substances like sand or water are not solid. In a previous publication, vanMarle found that children as young as 10 months consistently choose larger amounts when presented with two different amounts of food substance.
"We believe that infants are born with the ability to form expectations and they use these expectations basically to predict the future," vanMarle said. "Intuitive physics include skills that adults use all the time. For example, when a glass of milk falls off the table, a person might try to catch the cup, but they are not likely to try to catch the milk that spills out. The person doesn't have to consciously think about what to do because the brain processes the information and the person simply reacts. The majority of an adult's everyday interactions with the world are automatic, and we believe infants have the same ability to form expectations, predicting the behavior of objects and substances with which they interact."
While the intuitive physics knowledge is believed to be present at birth, vanMarle believes parents can assist skill development through normal interaction, such as playing and talking with the child and encouraging him/her to interact with objects.
"Despite the intuitive physics knowledge, a parent probably cannot do much to 'get their child ahead' at the infant stage, including exposing him or her to videos marketed to improve math or language skills," vanMarle said. "Natural interaction with the child, such as talking to him/her, playing peek-a-boo, and allowing him/her to handle safe objects, is the best method for child development. Natural interaction with the parent and objects in the world gives the child all the input that evolution has prepared the child to seek, accept and use to develop intuitive physics."'
Do you think your baby has intuitive skills? Why or why not? 
You can also read the article here:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How Much "Screen" Time do Kids Need?

Diana Dolinsky, MD, MPH is a pediatrician with the Healthy Lifestyles Program at Duke University. The program focuses on empowering kids and families with the skills and knowledge needed to live a life of healthy eating and active lifestyles.
It’s common for young children in the United States to have a lot of exposure to media, both through direct viewing and background noise. So what are the recommendations for screen time and exposure to media for children?
Official recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics (the main organization of pediatricians) are that:
1)      Children under 2 years should not have any screen time
2)      Older children have no more than 1 to 2 hours of screen time daily
3)      Television sets should not be in children’s bedrooms.
What do we mean by screen time?
Screen time can include a number of activities. The most common are:
1)      Watching TV
2)      Playing on the computer
3)      Playing video games
4)      Text messaging (very common in teenagers)
Is there a link between screen time and weight in children?
A number of studies suggest that children with more exposure to screen time are more likely to have difficulties with increased weight. There are a number of reasons for this link. Children who are watching television are more likely to eat the foods (including fast foods and soda) that are shown on television commercials. Many children also eat while watching TV or playing video games and may eat more food than they would have consumed otherwise. Also, when children are viewing a screen, they are usually sitting and are getting less physical activity than they would otherwise.
What are some ways to help children reduce screen time?
1)       Limiting access to screens will help reduce the time. Don’t leave TVs or computers in children’s bedrooms that they can use while you think they are sleeping.
2)       Set limits on screen time for your children.
3)       Don’t introduce young children to TVs, computers, etc. If they aren’t used to watching TV, they’re less likely to want it as they get older.
4)       Talk with your child about alternatives to watching TV or playing video games (such as going outside, reading, playing games, etc.)
It is also important to remember that the earlier you change these habits, usually the easier it is!
How much screentime do your kids get? Do you try to limit it? Share your thoughts in the comments below or in our Parenting community.

How much "screen" time does your child get? Is it too much? Too little? Do you think it impacts other aspects of their lives? 
You can also read the article here:

Monday, January 23, 2012

7 Habits of Highly Effective Cyber-Parents

1. Set a timer: The shrill bell will jolt you out of your online stupor and help you to transition to another activity.

2. Go in with a plan: Draw up lists and target specific followers/friends. Then sign off after you’ve made that contact.

3. Stay away from the games:It’s incredibly easy to get sidetracked on social media sites. If you’re not careful, you will end up frittering away hours on FarmVille or Angry Birds.

4. Choose “dead” time to tweet and text: In waiting rooms, parking lots, airports, train stations, during public-transit commutes — these otherwise idle moments not only add up, but are typically solo time, so no one is being neglected.

5. Keep it real: If there’s a golden rule of using social media sites, this is it. Even if you connect with only one person, make it count and be genuine. When pressed for time, opt for quality over quantity, always.

6. Make rules, then keep them: Set up boundaries within your family (for example, no phones during dinner) and ensure you are fully engaged with your partner and kids during those times.

7. Be present for events: Turn off social media when you’re at an important game or when you pick up your kids from school. Clearly communicate your availability to outsiders beforehand, then be either completely “on” or “off.”
You can read the entire article here:

Friday, January 20, 2012

PsychNews: "Proposed Changes to Autism Definition may mean New Diagnosis for those w/ Asperger's

kid, child, sad, autism
(CBS)The definition of autism may soon be changing, according to a new report.
The proposed revisions - which are "90 percent complete" - would dramatically change the current diagnostic criteria for an autism spectrum disorder, The New York Times reported, potentially re-diagnosing tens of thousands of people.
The proposed changes have some experts and parents worried that lots of people who currently are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder may be left in the dark when it comes to necessary state benefits.
An expert panel from the American Psychological Association is mulling the revisions for its fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known in the medical community as the DSM-V. The DSM is basically the medical community's bible for diagnosing mental health disorders.
Just what are the proposed changes? Currently, a person would qualify for a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder by exhibiting 6 of the 12 behaviors on the criteria list, which include failure to develop peer relationships, inflexible adherence to a routine, or delays in communication or imaginative play. Under the proposed changes, a person would need to fit a much narrower description - showing three deficits in social interaction, and at least two repetitive behaviors.
Currently, about 1 in 110 children have an autism spectrum disorder, according to the CDC, and up to 1.5 million children and adults overall are diagnosed with one. Some may be diagnosed with more severe forms of autism, while others have Asperger's syndrome or  "pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified."
The proposed changes would wipe the latter two disorders from the manual's pages, lumping them all under autism spectrum disorder.
"I'm very concerned about the change in diagnosis, because I wonder if my daughter would even qualify," Mary Meyer of Ramsey, N.J., told the New York Times. Meyer's 37-year-old daughter has Asperger syndrome, a diagnosis which helps her gain access to state services. "She's on disability, which is partly based on the Asperger's; and I'm hoping to get her into supportive housing, which also depends on her diagnosis."
The proposed changes to the definition have a critic in Dr. Fred R. Volkmar, director of the Child Study Center at the Yale School of Medicine. Volkmar formerly served on the APA's expert panel to update the manual, but resigned early on. He says the new definition will end the skyrocketing autism rates.
"We would nip it in the bud," he told the Times. But at what cost? "The major impact here is on the more cognitively able," Volkmar said.
Volkmar and colleagues at Yale conducted their own study to see the revision's impact, by analyzing data from a 1993 study that served as a basis for the current autism criteria. The researchers found that under the new definition, 65 percent of children and adults with high-functioning forms of autism would not meet the current definition.
Experts currently working on the revised definition disagreed with Volkmar's early findings. "I don't know how they're getting those numbers," task force member Dr. Catherine Lord, an autism researcher at the University of Michigan, said of Volkmar's report.
Volkmar's findings have many parents and advocates worried that people with higher-functioning forms of the disorder might be at risk for losing state services for education, transportation, health, and other social services they may currently qualify for.
Dr. Sally Ozonoff, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Davis, who is not involved in the current revisions, thinks parents need not worry, and the new changes might help more kids get access to therapies they couldn't, such as in states that only fund services for people with autism, but not Asperger's.
"I can state that the intentions of that group, and of most professionals in the field, would not be to exclude anyone from services or to tighten criteria to reduce the number of diagnoses," Ozonoff told Time Healthland. Far from it."
But Lori Sherry, president of the Asperger Syndrome Education Network, summed up the persisting fears for many parents.
"Our fear is that we are going to take a big step backward," she told Times. "If clinicians say, 'These kids don't fit the criteria for an autism spectrum diagnosis,' they are not going to get the supports and services they need, and they're going to experience failure."
Would the proposed changes affect someone you know? 
You can read the full article here: