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Category: Back to School

For Many Kids, Back to School Means Back to the Doctor. Here’s How Parents Can Help

For Many Kids, Back to School Means Back to the Doctor. Here’s How Parents Can Help

school-bus-200-300With Halloween two weeks behind us and Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, most school-age children are back in the classroom and (hopefully) have adapted to the fall routine. For some kids, though, the fall routine includes lots of sick days and doctor visits.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there’s a good reason for this. “Schools inherently foster the transmission of infections from person to person because they are a group setting in which people are in close contact and share supplies and equipment.”

The CDC also provides some statistics that puts this issue in perspective: “Infectious diseases account for millions of school days lost each year for kindergarten through 12th-grade public school students in the United States:

  • 40% of children aged 5–17 years missed 3 or more school days in the past year because of illness or injury.
  • Nearly 22 million school days are lost each year due to colds alone.
  • 38 million school days are lost each year due to the influenza virus.”

Naturally, schoolchildren aren’t the only ones who are affected when even common illnesses are passed from child-to-child in the classroom environment. Those same illnesses (or the microorganisms that cause them) ride home with kids on the bus or in the neighborhood carpool. And when they do, the whole family is at risk. Plus, parents are left to cope with the inconveniences and costs that come with sick days and doctor visits.

Communicable diseases that spike at the beginning of the school year are numerous and include the common cold (aka rhinovirus), the flu, strep throat, Fifth disease (a viral infection caused by the parvovirus), pinkeye, whooping cough (aka pertussis), mono, chicken pox, meningitis, lice, scabies, pinworm, ringworm, jock itch, and athlete’s foot.

Some areas of the country are also concerned with two other viral infections that thrive in crowded areas such as schools. According to Indiana news station WTHR.com, “The first is a viral infection called ‘hand, foot and mouth disease.’ ”

Noted pediatrician Dr. Michael McKenna from the Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health says in regard to hand, foot, and mouth disease, “The rash looks ugly, kids feel uncomfortable, and they can have fevers. The one concern is if they have so many ulcers in their mouth that they refuse to eat or drink, that they can become dehydrated. This year, it’s much more prominent and the rash is much more severe.”

The article continues: “Doctors are also seeing many more cases of shigellosis, a bacterial infection spread when people do not wash their hands after using the bathroom. It can cause diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.”

Children aren’t the only ones at risk for transmittable infections and diseases in and around the classroom—teachers and administrators are also susceptible to many viruses and bacterial infections, which range from simply annoying to very serious. In fact, many teachers quickly get sick upon the arrival of a new school year. For these people, it is important to practice prevention. Minimize contact with students, urge them to cough and sneeze into their elbow, and send them to the nurse if they look as if they may be coming down with something.

So else can parents do to try to keep their kids healthy and at school during the fall and winter months? Here are a few thoughts we’d like to share:

  • Teach your children good hand-washing habits that follow them from home to school and be sure that they wash their hands when they return from school in the afternoon.
  • Explain to your children the importance of keeping their hands away from their eyes, nose and mouth throughout the school day and discourage them from sharing cups, utensils, etc.
  • Encourage your children to eat a healthy, balanced diet that will support their immune system.
  • Make sure your children get plenty of fresh air and exercise. Spending time outside and away from crowded, enclosed areas can help reduce the likelihood of sickness.
  • Set a reasonable bedtime for your children and stick to it. Not only are well-rested kids likely to perform better at school, they’re also more likely to stay healthy.
  • If your children are sick, please keep them home until they are well. This is for the benefit of classmates and teachers, but it’s also for the benefit of your own kids. Children who have not yet completely recovered and return to school to early may be more likely to pick up additional illnesses in the classroom.
Youth Sports: Are Single-Sport Child Athletes Really More Likely to Succeed Later?

Youth Sports: Are Single-Sport Child Athletes Really More Likely to Succeed Later?

boys-with-sports-equipmen
boys-with-sports-equipmen

Especially if they’re athletes or sports fans themselves, it’s not unusual for mothers and fathers to have secret (or not-so-secret) hopes that their kids can become good enough in a sport to earn a college scholarship or go on to a professional career. Some parents believe that the best way to work toward this goal is to encourage their children—sometimes as young as 6 or 7 years old—to focus on a single sport as early as possible. The reasoning behind this early specialization is pretty simple: Kids who are not splitting their time among multiple sports will get better, faster (and be more competitive) than their “distracted” peers. In other words, the children who commit early get a developmental head start that will make them high-performers later.

While this idea may make intuitive sense, a new study from the University of California, Los Angeles (which has a reputation as a major power in collegiate athletics) suggests that the logic simply doesn’t hold true. In a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) in San Diego, Dr. John DiFiori, chief of sports medicine at UCLA’s School of Medicine, says that researchers can find no evidence that athletes who focused early on a single sport rose to elite levels in that sport.

To the contrary, most of the collegiate athletes surveyed were more like their peers, kids who enjoyed a wide range of recreational sports growing up, waiting until well into their teens before specializing on one sport. As DiFiori says, “Most successful athletes participate in a number of sports when they’re 6, 8 or 10 years old. That way, kids learn different skills and have the chance to discover which sport they truly enjoy.”

The study surveyed 296 male and female NCAA Division I athletes and found that 88% of them had participated in an average of two or three sports as children. In addition, 70% of them did not specialize in any one sport until after the age of 12. In a similar study on Olympic athletes, researchers found that most had participated in two or more sports before specializing.

While there are famous athletes like Tiger Woods or Andre Agassi who focused on one sport early in their lives, the research suggests that they are the exception and not the rule. The vast majority of successful collegiate or pro athletes dabbled in a number of other sports before settling on the one that brought them success. The data seems to indicate that early specialization may not help and may, in fact, be detrimental. Previous research has indicated, for example, that kids who train extensively in one sport are more prone to overuse injuries than kids who had more varied athletic experience, and played other sports as well. There’s also a greater risk of premature disengagement or “burn-out” that can come with focusing exclusively on one activity.

Based on this research, Dr. DiFiori feels that parents of kids who seem talented in one sport at an early age should allow and encourage them to play other sports. They may, after all, discover another sport that they enjoy more and are even better at. And—even if they do not—they will be exposed to sports that train them in a wider variety of motor skills. “Physical activity contributes to a happy and healthy childhood,” says Dr. DiFiori, “however, parents, coaches and children should monitor and measure their involvement level in a singular sport against the overall well-being and future success of the participant.”

 

For High School Athletes, Sports-Related Back Pain Starts Early

For High School Athletes, Sports-Related Back Pain Starts Early

gridironPeople often assume that lower back pain (LBP) is just a problem just for the elderly, or for middle-aged adults who have a history of physical wear and tear. But this is simply untrue. The fact is that over 31 million Americans live with lower back pain on a regular basis, and a great number of them are adolescents.

Recent studies have indicated that many high school students who participate in sports programs are at high risk for developing lower back pain—and worse, few of them seek or receive proper chiropractic treatment. This is increasingly recognized as a legitimate public health concern: A 25-year-long study of adolescent risk factors for LBP, published in 2000, revealed that students who had lower back pain at age 14 were likelier to have back pain 25 years later than students who didn’t have LBP when they were teenagers. This study suggested that prevention of back pain in youth may contribute to the absence of back pain in adulthood.

14 years later, not much has changed. A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine examined Finnish teenage athletes participating in a variety of sports. Researchers looked at the experience of 464 male and female athletes representing 22 basketball, floorball (a type of floor hockey popular in Nordic countries), ice hockey, and volleyball teams. They found that 255 athletes (55%) had experienced lower back pain in the past year. 51 players (11%) had suffered for longer than four weeks, and 80 (17.2%) had pain so severe that they had to miss training. However, only about 73 of them (29% of those with back pain) had received any medical attention for LBP.

Another study of 12,306 adolescent soccer players found that a significant percentage of them were likely to suffer injuries that cause lower back pain, resulting in the loss of 10,265 training days and—more importantly—putting them at higher risk for LBP as they age. The study also concluded that the likelihood of injury resulting in LBP increased dramatically if a young athlete received no medical attention, then returned to play before the injury had healed.

Parents of teenage athletes should weigh all of this information carefully if their son or daughter begins to complain of lower back pain. Don’t let them ignore it and go back to playing without having the condition treated. Remember—“walking it off” today could have longer-term health consequences that go beyond the discomfort or pain they’re feeling in the moment. Parents should also know that other studies have found chiropractic care to be the safest, most effective form of LBP treatment. Your chiropractor can help relieve your child’s pain today and help prevent a lifetime of lower back pain in the future, without drugs and without surgery. Call or visit our office today to learn more.

Back to School Success

Back to School Success

Back-to-school time draws near!  Though it seems it just began, summer break will soon come to an end, which means it is time to begin planning a successful transition from summer time to school time. Here are some tips for a smooth transition.

o    Bedtime / Wakeup time:  Adjust your child’s bedtime and wakeup time by 10 to 20 minutes per week to avoid a “rude awakening” on the first day of school. Between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night minimum. Sleep well, think well, be well.
o    Breakfast: Plan a well-balanced breakfast—nothing complicated. Smoothies are great and they’re easy to make.
o    Communicate expectations:  Ask your children what they are planning for their new year, help them set goals, and continue to support them on the way to achieving their goals throughout the year.
o    Friends: Encourage your children to see how many people they can meet each day and/or new things they can learn about those people they already know at school. Encourage your children to celebrate their similarities and differences.
o     Activities:  Encourage your child to discover multiple different activities and help them experience a wide range of possible interests early. Remember, our children are the best gauge of what fits their skills and interests, not us.
o    Physical Health: Set the tone of the morning with light exercise, mind and/or body, make sure to choose a proper back pack, instruct your children on proper stretching, and recommend physical activity after school before homework.
o    Wellness Development: Have their spinal system, posture, and nervous system evaluated for pattern of stress or imbalance to ensure your child has the opportunity to create a successful year and a proper foundation of health for life.

These are the years where the patterns of life begin.  We want to work with you to make sure we help today’s children become the leaders of tomorrow. If you need help with children’s health tips and more information to support the health of your family, give us a call at 652-3553 and request information or a consultation with Dr. Oblander. Have a great school year!

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