Archive for the 'Health & Wellness' Category

Plain soap and water

mom and son washing hands

Cropped image. Cade Martin and Dawn Arlott, PIXNIO. CC license.

How many times a day do doctors wash their hands? Dozens, perhaps. And they encourage us to follow effective hand-washing techniques as well.

“But, the conversation shouldn’t end there”, according to Dr. Paula Kim, M.D. with Beaumont Health, clinical professor at Wayne State University’s School of Medicine, and associate professor at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. She says, “The next questions are: What type of soap is used at home? Is it an antibacterial? Or is it plain soap and water?”

The Centers for Disease Control, American Medical Association, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and others overwhelmingly encourage people to use non-antibacterial (plain) soap and warm water, and to rub hands together for a minimum of 20 to 30 seconds.

Why plain soap? Isn’t an antibacterial product more effective? Surprisingly, no. In 2013 the FDA challenged manufacturers of over-the-counter antibacterial hand and body soaps to prove that their products are more effective at killing germs than plain soap and water. And they couldn’t do it.

“There’s no data demonstrating that these drugs provide additional protection from diseases and infections. Using these products might give people a false sense of security,” says Theresa M. Michele, M.D., of the FDA’s Division of Nonprescription Drug Products.

Due to health risks, including bacterial resistance, the FDA banned manufacturers from using almost all antibacterial chemicals, including the widely used triclosan. Manufacturers of hand and body soaps (soaps intended to be used with water) have until September 2017 to switch their formulations. The new rule affects most of the liquid hand soaps and bar soaps currently on the market. It does not affect hand sanitizers or hand wipes.

Health risks

The FDA is heeding the warning of research showing that the use of triclosan can lead to bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, making them ineffective. The agency also expressed concern over triclosan’s potential hormonal effects. According to the FDA, “…recent studies have demonstrated that triclosan showed effects on the thyroid, estrogen, and testosterone systems in several animal species, including mammals, the implications of which on human health, especially for children, are still not well understood.”

Other organizations, such as the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), have found — in addition to concerns about endocrine activity — triclosan carries risks for the reproductive system and brain development.

Exposure

We likely use at least one product every day that contains triclosan. Antibacterial chemicals are added to thousands of products, including household cleaners, cosmetics (including deodorant, toothpaste and mouthwash), clothing, furniture, lunchboxes, backpacks, food packaging, kitchen utensils, children’s toys and more. But the chemical doesn’t simply stay in those products. Researchers found triclosan in household dust, in streams and other waterways, in wildlife, in human plasma and breast milk, and in drinking water.

Indeed the multitude of exposure paths was a driving factor behind the FDA’s original inquiry. According to a September 2016 FDA Consumer Update factsheet, Antibacterials? You Can Skip It – Use Plain Soap and Water, “…people’s long-term exposure to triclosan is higher than previously thought, raising concerns about the potential risks associated with the use of this ingredient over a lifetime.”

Consumers

Many people use antibacterial soaps without knowing they are using an OTC drug. Shoppers should watch out for the word “antibacterial” or the phrase “kills germs”. Generally, we find these words and phrases reassuring. But remember that it isn’t necessary to kill all the germs, but to simply remove them with plain soap and water. Then wash them down the drain. A drug facts label on a soap or body wash is a sign a product contains antibacterial ingredients. As Dr. Kim always encourages her patients, “Read the label on anything you buy. Read what’s in it!”

More information

You don’t have to settle for toxic triclosan in your household cleaners either. Dr. Kim suggests her patients to “use natural things if possible, such as vinegar and water.” White vinegar is a food-grade anti-microbial that can kill germs on surfaces. Or look for Clean Well brand soaps and sanitizers, which use thyme oil as the active ingredient to kill germs. Some of the Seventh Generation brand cleaning products include the Clean Well technology also.

– Melissa Sargent, Environmental Health Educator with LocalMotionGreen at Ecology Center. For more information, you can email her at melissas@ecocenter.org or visit http://www.ecocenter.org/lmg.

Childproofing your home

Toddler opening a cabinet

Unaltered image. Jed De La Cruz, Flickr. CC license.

As a parent, it is our job to keep our children safe. So how do you know when to start childproofing and where to start? This can be an overwhelming process for many parents. Have you ever just stood in the safety section at your local baby store? There is an entire wall chock full of products with a variety of door handle covers, outlet covers, drawer and cabinet locks, and other items that you never even knew existed. Here is some advice on how to make sure your home is safe for your baby.

  • Get down on the floor at baby’s level. The world looks a whole lot different from there. Pay attention to what baby can see and reach.
  • When should I start? The sooner the better, however once baby is able to start rolling (typically 4 to 6 months), you want to make sure you’ve started your childproofing.
  • Know your baby. Some babies are much more mobile and curious than others. Some babies need to climb and get into everything. For these children, you may need to be much more thorough.
  • Keep all medications, chemicals, soaps, and detergents away from baby. Make sure these items are in locked cupboards or above baby’s reach in the kitchen and bathrooms.
  • All items that fit within a toilet paper tube pose a choking hazard to baby. Anything that fits inside should be kept away from baby, especially small items like coins.
  • Make sure you have the number for poison control in your cell phone and a central location in your home (800) 222-1222. You can also download an app to your phone.
  • Register for the Consumer Product Safety Recall list to be alerted for recalled items.

Recommended safety items

  1. Outlet covers
    1. Babies are very curious and the outlets seem to attract little fingers.
    2. If you don’t like the outlet covers, you can swap out all of your outlets with ones that have covers built into them.
    3. When traveling to a relative or friend’s home, bring an extra pack of outlet covers to keep your baby safe.
  2. Gates
    • You must use gates mounted with hardware at the top and bottom of stairs.
    • Pressure-mounted gates can be used in hallways and doorways.
    • Some gates have extension pieces to make sure they fit your space properly.
    • If you need to mount your gate to the banister, you can purchase a kit that lets you install the gate without drilling holes into your banister.
  3. Furniture straps
    • All furniture (including dressers and book cases) should be strapped to wall in rooms that baby will be in. These help to prevent furniture from falling on top of baby.
  4. Door locks/handles
    • Make sure you have the correct type of door lock for the correct door:
      • Bi-fold door locks
      • Sliding door locks
      • Universal locks
      • Appliance locks (e.g., refrigerator, drawer under oven/washing machine, dishwasher, etc.)
      • Door latches are very inexpensive and perfect for basement doors.
      • Toilet locks keep children from “playing” in toilet.
  1. Drawer and cabinet locks
    • Plastic locks that screw into the inside of cabinets or drawers.
    • Magnetic locks are less visible, but more expensive).
  2. Cord protectors
    • Mini blind cord protectors
    • Power strip protectors
  3. Thermometer for bathtime
    • Ensures water is not too hot or cold for baby

– Amy Weiss, MPT  Supervisor of Outpatient Physical Therapy at Beaumont Physical Therapy Berkley

 

Types of Teas and Their Health Benefits

tea and infuser

Regarded for thousands of years in the East as a key to good health, happiness, and wisdom, tea has caught the attention of researchers in the West, who are discovering the many health benefits of different types of teas. From green tea to hibiscus, from white tea to chamomile, teas are chock full of flavonoids and other healthy goodies.

Studies found that some teas may help with cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; encourage weight loss; lower cholesterol; and bring about mental alertness. Tea also appears to have antimicrobial qualities.

“There doesn’t seem to be a downside to tea,” says Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, LD. “I think it’s a great alternative to coffee drinking. First, tea has less caffeine. It’s pretty well established that the compounds in tea – their flavonoids – are good for the heart and may reduce cancer.”

Although a lot of questions remain about how long tea needs to be steeped for the most benefit, and how much you need to drink, nutritionists prefer brewed teas over bottled to avoid the extra calories and sweeteners.

Types of Tea

Green, Black, and White Tea

Tea is a name given to a lot of brews, but purists consider only green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, and pu-erh tea the real thing. They are all derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, a shrub native to China and India, and contain unique antioxidants called flavonoids. The most potent of these, known as ECGC, may help against free radicals that can contribute to cancer, heart disease, and clogged arteries.

All of these teas also have caffeine and theanine, which affect the brain and seem to heighten mental alertness.

The more processed the tea leaves, usually the less polyphenol content. Polyphenols include flavonoids. Oolong and black teas are oxidized or fermented, so they have lower concentrations of polyphenols than green tea, but their antioxidizing power is still high.

Herbal Teas

These are made from herbs, fruits, seeds, or roots steeped in hot water, and have lower concentrations of antioxidants than green, white, black, and oolong teas. Their chemical compositions vary widely depending on the plant used.

Varieties include ginger, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, hibiscus, jasmine, rosehip, mint, rooibos (red tea), chamomile, and echinacea.

Limited research has been done on the health benefits of herbal teas, but antioxidants in chamomile tea may help prevent complications from diabetes, like loss of vision and nerve and kidney damage, and stunt the growth of cancer cells.

Instant Teas

Instant tea may contain very little amounts of actual tea and plenty of sugars or artificial sweeteners. For health’s sake, check out the ingredients on the label.

My Favorite Tea

Good Earth sweet and spicy tea

image credit: Good Earth

I enjoy “sweet tea” but prefer not to add sweeteners to my beverage. I found a brand of tea called Good Earth that makes a caffeine-free tea called Sweet & Spicy. It’s an herbal tea with natural sweet flavors and spice. Sometimes it is hard to find the Good Earth brand at grocery stores, but it’s also available online. Products similar to the Good Earth brand that can be found in local grocery stores include Meijer brand “cinnamon spice” and Kroger Private Selection brand “cinnamon hibiscus” herbal teas. In the colder months, I enjoy drinking my tea hot and in the warmer months the same tea can be made into an iced tea beverage.

– Bethany Kramer, M.A., R.D., is a registered dietitian with the Weight Control Center at Beaumont Health Center.

Information adapted from http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/tea-types-and-their-health-benefits#1

Helping your child recover from a sports injury

soccer injury

Kids will be kids. That’s what they say, right? Unfortunately with kids playing sports at the level they do today, we have to deal with cuts, scrapes and bruises, but now also orthopedic sports injuries. Some of these require emergency room (ER) visits and doctor follow ups, but many of them can be healed at home with proper immediate care and a good recovery plan.

In this article, we talk about home recovery from mild sports injuries. It’s important to note that anytime there is concern about a broken bone, uncontrolled bleeding, head injury, or infection (such as tetanus), you should see a doctor right away, often at your local ER or urgent care center.

The first step is calming the pain and inflammation after injury. When the body is injured, swelling occurs from the inflammatory process the body elicits to prevent further damage to tissues; when swelling is high, pain usually follows quickly. We use the R.I.C.E. protocol to reduce and control this process, which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. Usually the rest, ice and elevation all happen together—for example stopping soccer practice to place ice on your ankle while elevating it above your heart. The elevation above the heart level, which usually requires lying down, allows gravity to help move the swelling back toward the heart, doubling the effect.

Compression (e.g., wrapping an ACE bandage around the ankle) occurs after the icing and prevents more swelling from occurring. Icing should be done no more than 10–15 minutes at a time and always with a barrier between ice and skin. Fun fact: Ice can burn the skin as easily as heat! Anti-inflammatory medication is also an option to reduce inflammation, but always at the recommendation of a physician to ensure the proper dosing and safety for your child.

After the swelling and pain are reduced, your child may be itching to return to his or her sport, but it’s important to have a slow return back to full performance to allow for greatest potential of no reoccurrence or reinjury. This may be participating in only practice with the ability to take a break if pain returns, staying away completely and doing exercises at home, and/or coming to physical therapy in addition to return to sport. Teachers and coaches must be made aware of the injury and should be accommodating to your child during recovery. If your child is too young to understand his limits or her coach is pressuring without accommodating, then you, as a parent, must take charge of your child’s recovery and keep away from the sport for extra time. When our muscles are working at only 50 or 60 percent, they are more susceptible to additional injuries from overworking or incorrect form. Taking extra time away and addressing the targeted area allows muscles to recover fully before being asked to perform at a high level.

So how do I know what to do for my child? For a complex injury or if you really are clueless, that is what your local physical therapist is for! Depending on the severity of the injury, your child may need to see a specialized sports medicine doctor, but we can evaluate your child and create a specific exercise program in just a few sessions. Sometimes three or four sessions to watch the healing and learn some exercises is all it takes. However if we identify fundamental issues that may have contributed to the injury, therapy may continue for a while. Remember, often kids listen better to instruction coming from someone other than mom or dad.

A good start on a minor injury is to exercise that body part starting with non-weight-bearing (called open-chain in rehab world) and progressing to weight-bearing (called closed-chain). For hand and upper extremity injuries, children should start with no weight and slowly add weight or resistance. Please keep in mind that pre-pubescent children should never perform heavy or repeated weight lifting, due to the integrity of growth plates.

So now that your child is ready to return to her activity, remember slow and steady wins the race! The hardest thing to do is hold back, but often times injuries feel fine with day-to-day work and we aren’t truly sure of where our healing is until it is tested. Not to mention, after a break from working out, everything is a little rusty and just like we need to work back up slowly to full strength, so do our children.

For any other questions or if you feel your child needs a skilled evaluation for his injury, give us a call at any of our Center for Children’s Rehabilitation locations in Grosse Pointe, Royal Oak, Macomb, and West Bloomfield.

– Lauren Sofen, PT, DPT, PCS, Physical Therapist, Beaumont Health Center/Neighborhood Club

Should I be concerned about my child’s “W sitting”?

Boy sitting in W sit position

This is a frequent question pediatric therapists hear from parents of young children. W sitting is described as a child sitting with their buttock between their two feet, knees bent, and out to either side. If you looked at this child from above their legs make the letter W.

There are many schools of thought as to why a child sits in this position. It’s normal for a young child between the ages of 3–5 to move in and out of this position while playing. Children are born with more femoral anteversion or the thigh bones are turned in, as they grow the anteversion becomes less. This explains why a child can easily move in and out of this position but an adult would experience much more discomfort.

Many children choose this position for brief intervals of time because it’s comfortable and gives them a wider base of support to help maintain balance. However, there is however cause for concern if this is the child’s only preferred method of sitting, sits in this position for extended periods of time, or if there are other warning signs that accompany W sitting.

Some children lack the core and hip strength required to maintain an upright position while engaged in play. Core and hip weakness in children may present itself in different ways. Key things to watch for include

  • the inability to keep up with other children the same age,
  • toe walking,
  • a limp while walking or running,
  • a strong preference for only one side of the body,
  • walking “pigeon toed” and
  • complaints of pain or fatigue.

Sitting in the W position also limits a child’s ability to fully rotate the upper body resulting in delayed hand preference, decreased table top skills, and decreased ability to integrate both sides of the body into purposeful movement. This may affect a child’s school performance, handwriting and body coordination.

It’s also important to remember that young, growing bodies are affected by habitual patterns. If your child spends an extended period of time in this position, it will affect your child’s growth pattern, possibly leading to orthopedic complications down the road. Muscles may become shortened and tight affecting balance, coordination, and gross motor skill development. All of these above warning signs warrant a trip to the pediatrician and further investigation from a pediatric physical and/or occupational therapist as appropriate.

Not all children who W sit will encounter these health issues but it does increase the risk. Many of these conditions are treatable and preventable. Our advice to parents is to limit the amount of time spent W sitting. Children are wonderful at adapting an environment to engage in more meaningful activities of play. Give children different options for seated play, for example: side sitting with both legs out to one side, long sitting with feet out in front, crisscross or tailor sitting, and sitting on a small bench. These positions allow a child to develop strong core muscles, weight shift from one side to the other, use both sides of the body, develop rotation and hand dominance. Children may be resistant to the change of position at first but over time it will become easier, and more importantly positively affect their future growth and development.

– Christina Paniccia, pediatric physical therapist and supervisor at the Neighborhood Club Grosse Pointe

Mindful families: Fewer meltdowns, more fun

Young boy meditating

Tuesday morning, 7:15 a.m.

Maria and her kids are already late. Her daughter is still brushing her teeth, her son can’t find his folder. Maria crankily yells at them to get moving already. Everyone is quiet in the car, afraid to say much. She realizes that she forgot her purse and work bag. She swears quietly under her breath. Every slow-moving truck and stoplight hinders her. She drops the kids off and rushes back home. Then she hears a siren and see flashing lights – she’s being pulled over for speeding. Now she will really be late, and could get an expensive ticket! She grits her teeth in frustration and feels her heart racing.

Have you had days like this? How can we break out of this rut? One important key is mindfulness. This is not some “new-age gobbledygook,” says mindfulness expert Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. In fact, 60 Minutes has a great 12-minute video on the powerful benefits of mindfulness.

You can bring the power of calm into your family too! Research shows that mindful caregivers and parents have calmer, happier kids. But before you teach your kids how to be mindful, you need to learn this skill yourself. “You can’t teach what you haven’t experienced,” says Dr. Carla Naumberg, author of “Ready, Set, Breathe: Practicing Mindfulness with Your Children for Fewer Meltdowns and a More Peaceful Family.”

Mindfulness is not difficult, and doesn’t have to take long. You can find ways to build “mindful moments” into your day, and with practice, these become habitual.

  • Think “connection before correction”. Try to calm yourself so you can figure out what is going on rather than reactively doling out punishments or harsh words.
  • Three “Magic Breaths”. When you feel yourself getting worked up, or can see that your child is starting to spiral, take three deep breaths together. Then talk about what is going on from a more stable point of view.
  • Use cues. When I hang up my keys near the front door, I take a deep breath, let the workday go (with varying success sometimes) and then greet my family. That’s my way of hitting the reset button and getting ready to be more present with them. Or use a small STOP sign to cue: Stop, Take a breath, Observe, Proceed more calmly.
  • Be kind to yourself as you learn. Minds are made to wander! When you try to focus on an activity or even just your breath, your mind will run off like a puppy. When you notice this, gently bring your attention back to your focus (e.g., building with LEGO with your son, raking leaves with your daughter, etc.).
  • Mindful media and technology. Technology is a good servant but a poor master. Constantly responding to the dings and pings of our electronic devices is anything but mindful and often leaves us feeling frazzled and exhausted. Take breaks from the screens and use them with intention and purpose. Take three deep breaths before reading an email or hitting “send”. We make fewer mistakes or rash decisions when we are focused and calm!
  • Try a brief loving kindness meditation. There is growing research on the power of meditation, mindfulness, and a special variety called “loving kindness meditation” (or metta) on promoting health and well-being. There are even structural changes in the brain as the result of these practices.

One quick version is to remember whenever you see an ambulance to send out loving kindness to the helpers and the people who need help. There are many variations on metta, but I particularly like “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be safe. May you feel loved.”  Even in the midst of a busy day, I can remember that one!

As we all know, stress is everywhere. If you learn how to handle yours better, and model this for your children, you’ll be teaching them skills that last a lifetime!

– Dr. Lori Warner, Ph.D., LP, BCBA-D, Director, HOPE Center at Beaumont Children’s Hospital

 

Headphone safety

Young boy with earbuds

Cropped image. Kelly, Flickr. CC license.

You may not give much thought to the ear buds that came standard with your new cell phone or media player. But surprisingly enough, those little things can cause some big problems. A recent study found hearing loss is affecting 20 percent of U.S. adolescents between 12 and 19. Although the source of hearing loss wasn’t clear in the study, we do know there are steps to prevent hearing loss.

  • Consider using noise cancelling headphones instead of ear buds. These go over the ear, while ear buds rest inside of the ear canal, which brings the noise closer to the inner ear.
  • Always limit the length of time you listen with headphones or earbuds to approximately 60 minutes a day to give your ears a rest.
  • Turn the volume down! Most experts recommend keeping the volume to no more than 60 percent of the device’s volume level. If people around you can hear what you’re listening to, the volume is definitely too loud.
  • Set volume restrictions on your device if you can. This is especially important for children.
  • In addition to preventing hearing loss, never walk or drive while using headphones. We rely on our senses to protect us from danger, and hearing is an especially important way to keep safe. Pedestrian deaths are on the rise and many experts believe it’s due to electronic distractions.

– Erica Surman, RN, BSN, Pediatric Trauma Program Manager, Beaumont Health System

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