Browsed by
Category: Billings Area Chiropractor

The New Science of Slips and Falls: What the Research Tells Us

The New Science of Slips and Falls: What the Research Tells Us

While we’ve all seen the old banana peel skit, slips and trips in the real world are no laughing matter. Simply falling to the floor or pavement from an upright position causes a great many serious injuries—and even deaths—each year. No one really knows for certain how many falls could actually be prevented, but the topic is of growing interest to a wide variety of people, from public health officials, designers, architects and community planners to business owners, workplace supervisors and employees. Senior citizens are perhaps the most at risk. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) presents several statistics that highlight this point:

  • One out of three older adults (those aged 65 or older) falls each year, but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it.
  • Twenty to thirty percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures, or head traumas. These injuries can make it hard to get around or live independently, and increase the risk of early death.
  • Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries. In 2010, about 21,700 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries. Over 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls. In 2010, there were 258,000 hip fractures.
  • Many people who fall, even if they are not injured, develop a fear of falling. This fear may cause them to limit their activities, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, and in turn increases their actual risk of falling.
  • In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 662,000 of these patients were hospitalized. In 2010, the direct medical cost of falls, adjusted for inflation, was $30 billion.

Walking is a very complex activity, and science has only recently begun to understand the biomechanics involved. Shirley Wang wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Scientists are finding that maintaining stability and balance with each step we take requires complex coordination of foot placement, arm movement, trunk angle and neck and head motion.” At the same time, researchers are also learning how other factors like sloping, uneven or slippery surfaces and obstructions come into play. There are many variables to consider. Even when the body’s movements are perfectly coordinated, small things about environment can still foil our best efforts to remain upright.

We know from nervous system studies that the body is capable of reacting within milliseconds. Science has shown that a person’s balance is maintained by simultaneous feedback from the body’s visual system, proprioceptive system and inner ear. If one of these systems becomes less efficient or fails altogether, then the other two can usually compensate to keep us balanced. If two fail, then balance becomes far more difficult. Aging frequently leads to poorer eyesight and troubles with the inner ear, so it’s small wonder that seniors are more likely to fall.

Canadian researchers at Simon Fraser University used video cameras in a long-term care facility to see if seniors were right about “tripping” or “slipping” being the reasons for their falls. What they found was surprising. Tripping actually accounted for only 20% of events. The nearly 3-year study of 227 falls involving 130 people showed that the single largest cause (41%) was from improper weight shifting, such as leaning over too far. This seems to indicate a failure in the seniors’ proprioceptive system.

There are a few ways you can help to prevent slips and falls. Be sure to keep walkways clear of clutter, and consider adding non-skid material to flooring—especially to floors that are more likely to become wet. Maintaining your strength helps too. Upper body strength is particularly important for catching yourself before or during a fall. Even when there’s nothing to grab onto, having the sort of upper body strength that helps you to do push-ups can soften the blow to more sensitive parts of the body. Reaching out with hands and flexing elbows upon impact can slow the fall or stop it altogether. The late Jack LaLanne, fitness guru, was still doing fingertip pushups at age 93. Don’t say it can’t be done!

Balance requires that every part of the body works well together. Dr. Oblander can help you maintain this balance by ensuring you have a healthy spine and nervous system.  He can also recommend specific exercises that maintain or increase your upper body strength.  So if you or someone you care about is interested in avoiding slips and falls, we can help you take advantage of the latest research!  Just call or visit our office today: 406-652-3553!

 

How Much Money You Can Save From Losing Weight at Different Ages

How Much Money You Can Save From Losing Weight at Different Ages

Today we are sharing an article from Forbes magazine on how losing weight can save you money. Just ask our doc – Dr. Greg Oblander, losing weight saves you more than just money. Think that you are doomed to all of the health woes and diseases that have plagued your parents and grandparents? Would it surprise you to know that genetics only affect about 5% of health issues? Yup, it’s true. Our health is mainly determined by our health and lifestyle choices. Love that Big Mac? Well…it doesn’t love you! Today’s article cites a report that estimates that losing weight will save the average person at least $10,000 over a lifetime. We think that estimate is way low. (Think cost of cancer treatment, heart surgery, escalating medical costs). Money issues aside, how much is it worth to you to not have chronic pain, joint issues, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, cancer…and the list goes on? Deciding now to get rid of extra weight and adopt the habit of exercise and eating real food will save you both health woes and money! An added bonus is that you will learn a greater degree of self-discipline! If you would like to change your lifestyle habits and/or lose weight, we can help! Call our Oblander Chiropractic office at 406-652-3553 and schedule your free consultation!

Please enjoy today’s article from Forbes magazine:

Losing weight can save you money over your lifetime.

Want another reason to lose weight? How about making your wallet heavier? In our study just published in the journal Obesity, we showed how much money that losing weight can save at any age, whether you are Millennial at 20 years old or a member of the Greatest Generation at 80 years old.

Five members of our Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at Johns Hopkins University (Saeideh Fallah-Fini, Atif Adam, Lawrence J. Cheskin, Sarah M. Bartsch and I) developed a computational model that simulated an adult at different starting ages and weights and calculated what could happen to the person’s weight, health and associated costs over time for the rest of his or her life. (Dr. Fallah-Fini is also an Assistant Professor of Engineering at the California State Polytechnic University.) Think of this model as a virtual person whom we can follow like a friend while the person ages.

For example, a simulated person could start as overweight at age 20 and then with each passing simulated year of the person’s life gain or lose weight and develop different types of chronic weight-related conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, just like a real person. The simulation would continue until the person died from either age-related causes or a weight-related condition such as having a fatal heart attack.

At the end of the simulation, we could then tabulate the amount of medical costs that occurred (e.g., hospitalizations and medications for stroke) and the amount of productivity losses that resulted (e.g., lost salary from being disabled or missing days of work for hospitalizations, clinic visits, falling ill or passing away early). By running the model with different starting weights (e.g., within the ideal body weight range) and then comparing the results, we could then see how medical costs and productivity losses may change with losing or gaining weight.

The model utilized data from a variety of sources such as the Coronary Artery Disease Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) and Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) studies, the Framingham Heart Study (FRS), the Northern Manhattan Stroke cohort study, the National Cancer Institute database, the National Health Interview Survey, the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dr. Adam played a major role in assembling and analyzing all of this data to help construct the model.

On average, going from obesity to normal weight, a 20-year-old could save a net present value of more than $28,000 throughout their lifetime, a 40-year-old more than $30,000, a 50-year-old more than $36,000, a 60-year-old more than $34,000, a 70-year-old more than $29,000 and an 80-year-old more than $16,000.

Going from overweight to an ideal weight range could save more than $10,000 at any age from 20 to 80, peaking at age 60 ($18,604). It may be that “love don’t cost a thing,” but obesity or being overweight certainly do.

In nearly all situations, at least half of these costs are from productivity losses (lost salary). In many cases, productivity losses constituted as high as nearly two-thirds of the costs. Since we used median wages, if you make much more, then losing weight could save you substantially more than the numbers we reported.

These numbers actually may be underestimates because the model focused on just a handful of major weight-related health conditions. We didn’t account for costs associated with a number of other weight-related issues such as joint problems and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Extra weight not only hits you in the gut, but potentially in the heart, the brain, the liver, the kidneys and other parts of the body, and also the wallet.

And since we are all connected with each other via taxes (assuming that you pay taxes), insurance premiums (assuming that you pay for insurance) and the economy (assuming that you are a person and not a wombat), extra weight for someone else also may end up hitting your wallet, too.

Today’s article is shared from the following website: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2017/09/27/how-much-money-you-can-save-from-losing-weight-at-different-ages/#7a2e40295c2a

 

AMA: Chiropractic Effective for Acute Back Pain

AMA: Chiropractic Effective for Acute Back Pain

Statistics compiled by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) tell us that back pain affects a large majority of the population, with roughly 80 percent of people enduring at least one back-related issue during the course of their lives. In fact, there are currently 31 million people in the U.S. alone dealing with chronic, daily back pain.

With these types of numbers floating around, chiropractic patients may feel as if their back pain is inevitable, making the seeking of treatment futile. However, one recently released study review says otherwise, that is, as long as the treatment plan includes chiropractic.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a systematic review and meta-analysis conducted by 10 medical professionals from medical centers, universities, and healthcare systems across the U.S. The main question this group set out to answer was, “Is the use of spinal manipulative therapy in the management of acute (≤6 weeks) low back pain associated with improvements in pain or function?”

After taking a more in-depth look at 26 different randomized clinical trials occurring between January of 2011 and February of 2017, all of which involved spinal manipulative therapy (SMT), this set of researchers found that, in 15 of the studies, this particular treatment option provided “statistically significant benefits” for the 1,711 patient subjects when it came to lowering their levels of pain. In this same group of studies, almost half of the cases (12) also found major positive effects in regard to the level of function of the 1,381 participants when compared to sham chiropractic or other treatment methods.

It should also be noted that, while 50 to 67 percent of the participants in these studies reported experiencing headaches, muscle stiffness, or even increased pain after SMT, no serious adverse events occurred. This helps confirm chiropractic’s safety, making it a viable method of treating acute back pain episodes quickly and effectively.

These findings are extremely important as another statistic offered by the ACA is that approximately 50 percent of the working population has struggled with some type of back-pain issue in the previous 12 months. Thus, one very effective way to keep them earning an income and supporting their families in a manner that treats the symptoms and cause of their pain is regular and consistent chiropractic care.

This saves them both time off work and money due to unnecessary (and usually costly) medical bills, enabling them to spend both on the things they enjoy instead.

  • American Chiropractic Association. (n.d.) Back Pain Facts and Statistics.
  • Paige NM, Miake-Lye IM, Booth MS, Beroes JM, Mardian AS, Dougherty P, Branson R, Tang B, Morton SC, Shekelle PG. Association of Spinal Manipulative Therapy With Clinical Benefit and Harm for Acute Low Back Pain: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. 2017;317(14);1451-1460. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.3086
Today’s post was shared from the following website:https://www.chironexus.net/2018/01/ama-chiropractic-effective-acute-back-pain/
The Benefits of Zinc

The Benefits of Zinc

Muscular body builder workout

Zinc is the second-most common mineral in the human body (after iron) and is found in every one of our cells. It plays a vital role in many of the body’s functions, so ensuring that you get enough zinc in your diet is important. It is essential for helping the body to heal and for the maintenance of a healthy immune system. It is also important is supporting the senses (taste, sight and smell), blood clotting and healthy thyroid function.

Zinc is one of the most important minerals for fertility and general reproductive health. It is necessary for proper levels of testosterone in men and the maintenance of a healthy libido. The mineral also plays a key role in the healthy development of sperm, and abundant levels of zinc have been shown to be protective of the prostate, reducing the risk of prostate cancer. The belief that oysters have aphrodisiac properties actually does have some basis in truth. Oysters have one of the highest concentrations of zinc of any food. In women it regulates estrogen and progesterone and supports the proper maturation of the egg in preparation for fertilization.

Ensuring you have an adequate level of zinc can help reduce your risk of insulin sensitivity, one of the precursors to diabetes. It supports T-cell function, which boosts the immune system when the body is under attack by bacteria and viruses.

Zinc deficiency is not common in the developed world, but those with anorexia, alcoholics, the elderly and anyone with a malabsorption syndrome such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease is at higher risk. Zinc deficiency symptoms include frequent colds, poor wound healing, poor growth, loss of appetite, weight loss, dermatitis, psoriasis, hair loss, white spots on the nails, night blindness and depression.

Following is the recommended daily intake of zinc for different age groups:

Infants birth – 6 months: 2 mg/day

Infants 7 – 12 months: 3 mg/day

Children 1 – 3 years: 3 mg/day

Children 4 – 8 years: 5 mg/day

Children 9 – 13 years: 8 mg/day

Adolescent boys 14 – 18 years: 11 mg/day

Adolescent girls 14 – 18 years: 9 mg/day

Men 19 years and older: 11 mg/day

Women 19 years and older: 8 mg/day

Pregnant women 14 – 18 years: 12 mg/day

Pregnant women 19 years and older: 11 mg/day

Breastfeeding women 14 – 18 years: 13 mg/day

Breastfeeding women over 18 years: 12 mg/day

Children should never be given zinc supplements without first consulting with a pediatrician. If supplements are necessary, a copper supplement should be taken as well, as a high intake of zinc can deplete levels of copper.

You should be able to get adequate zinc from eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in whole foods. The body absorbs between 20% and 40% of the zinc present in food. The best sources of zinc are oysters, red meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, cheese, legumes (such as soybeans, black-eyed peas and peanuts), cooked greens and seeds (such as pumpkin and sunflower).

 

Auto Accident Folklore—Being Thrown Clear and Bracing for Impact

Auto Accident Folklore—Being Thrown Clear and Bracing for Impact

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You have no doubt overheard someone at work or at a party telling his friends that he never wears a seat belt—and that he has some really good reasons.  The story usually goes something like this:  He heard from a buddy he knows that a friend of a friend who was not wearing a seat belt had a bad car accident and walked away from it because he was thrown clear of the car.  This is one of the most pervasive car safety myths out there. And if you believe this myth, you could be setting yourself up for serious injury or death.

Although there are a small handful of cases in which someone has survived a car accident after being thrown from the car, this is a very rare occurrence.  In fact, you actually have a 25 percent greater chance of being killed if thrown from the car.  Just consider the physics of the situation.  The force applied to your body when a collision occurs can be strong enough to propel you 150 feet, which is equivalent to about 15 car lengths.  And you would not just be flying gracefully through the air either.  First, your body may go crashing through the windshield, it may scrape along the rough asphalt for yards, and then you could end up getting crushed by your own car or someone else’s.  This is not to mention the other objects you may be hurled into when flung from the car.  Statistics from a study performed by researchers at James Madison University show that the proper use of a seat belt reduces serious injuries from traffic accidents by 50 percent and fatalities by 60 to 70 percent.  It’s a simple thing that can protect your health and save your life—wear seat belts.

Another common myth is that bracing for impact causes more damage to your body, and that it’s best to remain relaxed.  Of course, actually having the ability to choose one way or another about bracing has a lot to do with how much time you have before impact.   Many accidents occur in the blink of an eye, so suggesting that someone should “stay relaxed” has really limited practical value.  However, the most current science indicates that if you have time, bracing for impact will likely reduce the amount of injury, particularly to tendons and ligaments.

One of the most common types of injury from an auto accident is whiplash, which occurs in about a third of all collisions.  If you see a car approaching in your rear view mirror that you believe is going to collide with yours, the best thing to do is to press your body against the seatback, with your head pressed firmly against the head rest. This way you are less likely to suffer injuries to the ligaments in your neck, as your head will not be slammed back against the head rest, then flung forward.

Auto accidents are never pleasant, but by knowing the facts about auto safety you can help reduce your chances of sustaining a serious injury.  If you do end up in an accident, it’s always a good idea to get a medical evaluation promptly, even if you think you haven’t suffered any significant injuries.  Many auto injuries take time for their symptoms to become apparent or significant enough for victims to recognize how badly they may have been hurt.  By the time the symptoms are obvious, the victim and his or her doctor may have lost a valuable opportunity to treat the underlying injuries.  Please call or visit the office if you or someone in your family has recently been involved in an auto accident.

When Are Antibiotics Appropriate and When Should I Avoid Using Them?

When Are Antibiotics Appropriate and When Should I Avoid Using Them?

People are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers that can result from the overuse of antibiotics. When antibiotics were first discovered in the early 20th century, researchers believed that they had found the key to conquering many deadly diseases. Since that time, antibiotics have certainly helped to cure diseases that once wiped out large parts of the population. However, there is growing evidence that antibiotics are now being used too frequently, and that they are often being used in inappropriate circumstances. This has led to many previously curable diseases becoming antibiotic-resistant, which means that a cure now requires the use far stronger antibiotics. In fact, some diseases have now become resistant to nearly all antibiotics. It is obvious that if antibiotic use continues in this way, we may have a major health crisis on our hands.

The first thing to be aware of is that antibiotics are not effective in the treatment of viruses. They only treat bacterial infections, certain fungal infections and parasites. For diseases such as the common cold, flu or bronchitis, antibiotics are completely ineffective and their use in cases such as these will only contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. You should not ask your doctor to prescribe antibiotics if you have a sore throat or the stomach flu, for instance. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotics were prescribed for an acute respiratory infection in 68% of visits to the doctor. However, 80% of those prescriptions were unnecessary.

Antibiotics are often an appropriate treatment for conditions such as severe sinus infections that last longer than two weeks, ear infections, bladder infections and skin infections. These are frequently due to a bacterial or fungal infection, and treating them with antibiotics is effective.

If you have been prescribed an antibiotic, it is very important that you take it exactly as directed by your physician. If your symptoms happen to clear up before the entire course of antibiotics is completed, you must still continue to take them as prescribed. This is because there may still be a few lingering bacteria in your system, and—if they are not all killed—the strongest ones may survive to produce new generations of ever stronger bacteria that might make current antibiotics less effective.

Some doctors feel pressured by their patients to prescribe something, whether it’s really going to be helpful or not. A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that pediatricians will prescribe antibiotics for children 62% of the time if parents expect them to, and only 7% of the time if the parents do not expect an antibiotic prescription. Do not put pressure on your doctor to prescribe antibiotics for your condition. He or she is the best judge as to whether antibiotics are appropriate.

Also remember…you can boost your immune system and those of your family if you get adjusted! Call our office at 406-652-3553 if you would like an adjustment!

I Trust Chiropractic Care

I Trust Chiropractic Care

Clinton Romesha

“When I first consulted a doctor of chiropractic for back pain, it was discovered that my pelvis was imbalanced – little surprise after many years of carrying military gear in all kinds of terrain. Aligning my hips and lower back, along with stretching and healthy living advice, made all the difference for me. Chiropractic is a natural alternative, and I am grateful for this car that has kept me away from having to mask my pain with addictive painkillers and their harmful side-effects. I encourage my brother and sister Veterans to consider chiropractic for healthier living.”   –  Clinton Romesha

 

In a 2013 ceremony, U.S.Army Staff sergeant Clinton Romesha received the Medal of Honor for acts of gallantry on 10/3/2009, during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Save

Endurance Sports Provide a Boost to the Body’s Nervous System

Endurance Sports Provide a Boost to the Body’s Nervous System

woman-running-in-cold-arid-land

It’s well known that training in certain sports can improve a person’s endurance. If you’re a runner, for example, you know that as you continue to run every day or according to whatever training schedule you follow, you gradually develop the ability to run further, faster, and for longer periods of time. But did you know modern science doesn’t have a complete understanding of why or how this actually happens? Experts still have a lot of unanswered questions about the exact mechanisms at work when an endurance sport triggers these kinds of performance improvements.

When it comes to muscle strength, there’s certainly an element of adaptation at work—it’s clear that the phrase “use it and strengthen it” is every bit as true as “use it or lose it”. But muscle strength isn’t the whole story. Many long-distance runners would probably tell you that their coordination and ability to deal with rough surfaces and obstacles also seem to increase with practice. To them, it seems as if their muscle-brain communication has improved along with their muscle strength.

According to a study conducted at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, not only may the runners’ perception be correct, but researchers may also have found one of the mechanisms that cause the improvements the runners are noticing. Their research suggests that endurance sports not only change the condition and fitness of your muscles, they also improve the neuronal connections to individual muscle fibers, based on a type of muscle-induced feedback, all accomplished through increased levels of a blood protein called PGC1α.

PGC1α seems to play a major role in muscle adaptation because it regulates the genes that cause muscle cells to change to keep up with the greater demands being placed on them. When your muscles are inactive (or diseased), they contain a low concentration of PGC1α. When the muscles are more challenged, however – for example when running for long distances – PGC1α levels increase. Professor Christoph Handschin and his colleagues in Basel have been able to show that this increase in PGC1α not only increases muscle size and strength, it also improves upstream synaptic nerve connections to and from the muscles.

The presence of more PGC1α improves the health of the synapses that link the muscles to the brain, allowing the muscles to change and develop new activation patterns, based on changing requirements placed upon them by the exercise. In effect, the more you train, the more PGC1α is in your muscles, and the more quickly they are able to “learn” how to become stronger and more adaptable to challenges.

However, the most surprising part of this study, published in the journal Nature Communication may be that Professor Handschin and his colleagues were able to induce this same improvement in synaptic communication by introducing higher concentrations of PGC1α into the muscles artificially. As the researchers increased PGC1α levels, the muscles became stronger and the neuronal connections became stronger, just as if the subjects had been performing endurance training.

These findings are seen as possibly having therapeutic applications in the treatment of diseases such as muscle wasting and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease). As Handschin explains, “In patients, whose muscles due to their illness are too weak to move on their own, an increase in PGC1α levels could strengthen muscles and nerves until the patients can move enough to finally do some physical therapy and to further improve their mobility.” Then after some improvement to their muscles as the result of pharmacological treatment, the patients could continue to improve their muscle strength through practicing endurance sports.

But for healthy people, there’s a much simpler message—certain types of sports normally associated with endurance-building also build muscle coordination and adaptability.  Not only is this type of exercise good for cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health, it also seems to pay big “fitness dividends” for your body’s nervous system.

 

Most Effective “Low Impact” Cardio Exercises

Most Effective “Low Impact” Cardio Exercises

Why “low impact” cardio exercises? Imagine reaching your “golden years” with a buff beach body only to be told that you can’t jog or run anymore because your knee cartilage has been worn thin or you have damaged vertebrae. The last thing you want to do is ruin your body while trying to stay in shape. Here we present some good low impact cardio exercises that can help you maintain a healthy cardiovascular system without causing damage to your musculoskeletal system.

Walking—This simple exercise places far less stress on the knees than jogging, running or pounding the stairs. If this sounds too boring, try changing your route. Explore different streets or roads. Also, you might take this to the next level and include hiking on trails or through the woods. Be sure to follow experts’ recommendations about hiking dos and don’ts. Add extra energy to your routine by swinging or rotating your arms to the sides. Involving your upper body as you walk can get your heart beating more vigorously.

Speed Walking—It’s impossible to do speed walking without involving the upper body. This is low-impact movement on rocket thrusters. The most efficient position is to keep your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle and be sure they remain close to your body. Be sure to stick to flat, smooth surfaces to reduce the chances of injury.

Cycling—For even less impact, take your bicycle out for a spin. If your bicycle is properly adjusted to your size, there should be no strain on your knees. You can cover far more territory, do more sightseeing and get lots of cardiovascular benefit.

Stairs—Walking up stairs is a powerful way to work your body. Don’t become impatient, though. You don’t want the walking to become jogging. That would turn your low impact routine into high impact. Make certain you softly plant each foot in turn on the next step and use the strength in your legs to push you upward.

Swimming—If you’re just starting an exercise program or returning after years of relative inactivity, swimming is an excellent low-impact exercise option. Taking to the pool can build up vast reservoirs of cardiovascular health because swimming can work the entire body, depending on the strokes you use.

Dancing—Take a dance class. Whether you’re into ballroom, tap, ballet or modern dance, you can get a low impact workout while having fun with others.

If you already suffer from thin cartilage, don’t let that stop you from exercising. One study did MRIs on 50–80 year olds, all healthy men. The results showed that more exercise led to thicker knee cartilage. The consensus was that exercise helped to repair cartilage deficiencies. Everything else being equal, the body is amazing in its ability to repair itself. And these low impact exercises can work wonders for your long-term cardiovascular health.

Remember that one of the best things you can do for your health is to also get adjusted regularly!

 

How Much Screen Time Should Kids Get?

How Much Screen Time Should Kids Get?

In life, it’s nearly always possible to have too much of a good thing, and moderation is usually the right common-sense prescription (no matter what the advertisers say). Screen time is no exception. But how much is too much? That’s the question many parents are asking…

There’s no doubt that a little bit of time watching TV, working on a computer, playing video games or using a tablet or smartphone can be useful. However, it’s also become increasingly clear that long, uninterrupted periods of screen time can cause real problems. This can be a result of the screen-watching activity itself as well as what’s NOT happening while an individual is focused on the screen. While there’s growing evidence that both adults and children are at risk, the rest of this article will focus on kids and what their parents need to know.

Most young children aren’t very good at moderating their behavior or setting their own limits. This means that it’s ultimately an adult’s responsibility to do it for them until they can exercise their own good judgment. And this is true EVEN THOUGH IT TAKES TIME AND EFFORT FROM THE ADULT AND IS OFTEN INCONVENIENT. As tempting as it may be to use devices with screens as electronic “babysitters” to free up your own time, being a parent or caregiver means keeping the child’s needs in mind, too.

Following is a brief summary of the most-widely circulated guidelines for children’s screen time (entertainment-oriented use of electronics), based on recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Under 2 years—No screen time

2–5 years—One hour of preschool TV, but no computer time

5–8 years—One hour

Over 8 years—Two hours

The first couple of years are particularly critical for a child. This is the time when a baby’s brain goes through the most rapid growth and development. Children need to explore and to engage with their broader environment. When these opportunities are limited or “crowded out” in favor of engaging with electronic devices, their cognitive and social development may be altered in negative ways we don’t yet understand. At the same time, researchers have not been able to establish that screen time of any sort (regardless of the media) has any real benefit for very young children. This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics believes that infants younger than two years shouldn’t have any screen time. Media companies and advertisers of infant-oriented products may tell you otherwise, but their interests are probably not the same as yours when it comes to the best interests of your child.

Many of your child’s most basic preferences and habits are developing between the ages of 2 and 5. Simply put, the prevailing wisdom is that electronic babysitters offer no substitute for the physical activity and social interaction kids need at this age. In fact, to the extent that they encourage inactive, solitary play, they may actually pose real health risks on several fronts.  For instance, if your child is sedentary, he or she may have an increased risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease later on, and may be slower to develop physical skills. If he or she doesn’t have regular social interaction with other adults and children, emotional problems and depression may be more likely.

By challenging your young children with a broad range of physical, intellectual and social activities, you offer them a developmental advantage. While media may have a place in the mix, experts agree that it should be a small one. Television specifically geared to preschoolers (think Sesame Street) can help expand your child’s awareness of learning concepts, but it shouldn’t be occupy more than an hour a day.

Between 5 and 8 years old, children can handle a little bit of screen time without it jeopardizing their development. Just be sure to set firm limits and encourage them to spend at least some of their screen time doing things that will enhance learning and hand-eye coordination.

As your children grow older, teaching them to live within certain sensible limits (in this case, by regulating screen time) and explaining why these limits exist can help them begin to look out for their own health and develop their own sense of self-discipline. Life lessons like these have value in and of themselves. So while your kids may not appreciate your efforts to restrict their use of electronic media, there can be very real longer-term benefits for your kids and for your family as a whole. It’s worth the effort!

 

google-site-verification: google27ea280976b3c539.html