Keeping children’s hearts healthy

boy getting a Beaumont Student Heart Check

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is not something many parents think about in the long list of worries when it comes to their teenager’s health. We make sure our kids have their required sports physicals, and we pay attention to the required concussion education each school year. What parents don’t know is that SCA is the leading cause of death in student athletes. Did you know we lose one student athlete every three days in our country to SCA? Here are some things we can do as parents to make sure our children’s hearts are healthy and that their schools are prepared should a cardiac event happen on campus.

Learn CPR and how to use an AED

CPR has been around since the early 1900s and has helped save millions of lives. In 2008 the American Heart Association released a statement recommending bystanders who witness a sudden collapse should first call 911, ask someone to get an AED (automated external defibrillator) if available, and start high-quality chest compressions pushing hard and fast in the middle of the chest at 100 to 120 compressions per minute.

High-quality chest compressions replaced the recommendation to do mouth-to-mouth to break the hesitation people felt about breathing for a stranger. AEDs are becoming more common in the community. They don’t require extensive training to operate, and once turned on, it walks you through the steps to use it with an automated voice. Effective CPR provided by a bystander in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest can increase the chances of survival by two or three times.

Make sure your child’s school is heart safe         

Michigan law states that each school must have a Cardiac Emergency Response Plan and have staff identified to respond to a cardiac emergency. Although schools are not required by law to have an AED, or enough AEDs for their campus, there are many charity groups who provide AEDs to schools free of charge. Michigan also has a designation for schools that have taken additional steps to ensure they are prepared to respond appropriately to a sudden cardiac emergency on campus called the HEARTsafe School Award. This award recognizes schools that have a trained cardiac emergency response team, clearly identified AEDs, a certain percentage of staff and coaches who are certified in CPR, and requires that the school conduct an AED drill each year to practice the response time. If your school is not a HEARTsafe school and they are interested in becoming one, we can help.

Sports physicals and symptoms are important to pay attention to

Have you ever cruised through filling out that sports physical form, not really reading the health-related questions regarding family history and previous symptoms your child might have? It is important for your child’s physician to have all the information requested to evaluate your child’s health for the upcoming sports season. Let your physician know about any close family members with heart conditions or any who have died unexpectedly at a young age. Take symptoms your teen reports during sports seriously such as unusual shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain, fainting/collapsing, or seizures during or after exercise. With all the information, your physician can refer for cardiac testing if indicated.

Bring your teen to a Beaumont Student Heart Check

The Beaumont Student Heart Check program offers a free community screening program at local high schools across metro Detroit four to six times a year, and a regular clinic screening program at the Ernst Cardiovascular Center in Royal Oak for a small fee of $25. This program is open to any student between 13 and 18 years old. Students receive a blood pressure check, cardiac history and physical, EKG, and a “quick look” echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) with Beaumont staff and cardiologists. Students also receive education on hands-only CPR and how to use an AED.

Since 2007 the program has screened 17,492 student athletes. Of those, 1,797 could continue sports but were recommended to see their physician, 207 were recommended to stop sports until they followed up with a cardiologist for several congenital heart conditions and abnormalities, and nine were found to have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the leading cause of death for young athletes. To find an upcoming SHC screening, visit

– Jennifer Shea, Student Heart Check Manager, Beaumont Heart & Vascular Services

Every body deserves a massage

back massage

What do you think of when you think “massage”? A luxury during vacation? A day at the spa? Training for athletes? Received during physical therapy after an injury?

Did you know the whole family can use massage? From infants to parents, massage has many benefits to help the entire family.

Massage is a holistic modality that can be adjusted for all family members. Adjustments can include duration, pressure, positioning or focus. Research supports massage for health and wellness, as well as an evidence-based procedure for many health conditions.


Infant massage can be performed by a licensed massage therapist or by the parents. It is recommended to create a routine and massage your baby several times a week at the same time (e.g., after bath, before bedtime, etc.). Some benefits your baby may receive include:

  • Improved sleep
  • Weight gain in premature births
  • A strong parent-baby bonding
  • Improved motor-development


Toddlers to pre-teens can benefit from massage for wellness or to help treat a specific condition. Often these sessions, like infant massage, are shortened to 15 to 20 minutes to start, and increase to 30 minutes. Benefits can include:

  • A better mood
  • Helping children relax
  • Learning about safe touch
  • Improved mind clarity


Teenagers can benefit from a wide range of benefits from massage. Whether your teenager is preparing for an exam, starting to play organized sports, or simply coping with being a teenager, massage is a great choice. Your teen may receive benefits like:

  • A decrease in headaches
  • Reduced stress from school, peers and test anxiety
  • An improved positive body image
  • Prevention of athletic injuries and an increased range of motion


We don’t want to forget about mom and dad. Whether a parent is looking to reduce stress or treat a health condition massage may be the answer.

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Improved sleep
  • Treatment for headaches and migraines, reducing the number of headaches and/or the severity
  • Increased range of motion
  • Decreased muscle pain

Choosing the right type

Don’t think of massage as just a “splurge” while on vacation. Massage can be a part of your family’s wellness routine or can address many conditions like headaches, fibromyalgia, oncology and arthritis. Which type of massage is right for you?

  • Clinical massage – from relaxation to area or condition specific
  • Cranial sacral therapy – a light-touch therapy that helps the body return to balance
  • Hot stone massage – heated stones to relieve stress in many layers of the body
  • Hydrotherapy – warm and cool towels used in improve circulation of blood and lymph
  • Indian head massage – an ancient technique uses massage and energy balancing along with warm oil
  • Lymphatic wellness treatment – helps renew energy and promotes a healthy immune system
  • Massage cupping – negative pressure to help reduce scar tissue and adhesions
  • Neuromuscular therapy – decrease trigger points to improve function and decrease muscle pain
  • Oncology massage – can reduce the many side effects of the treatment of cancer

Making an appointment

Beaumont Integrative Medicine offers clinical massage in Grosse Pointe, Royal Oak, Troy and West Bloomfield. Call 248-964-9200 and mention this article to receive $10 off your next massage appointment. This offer expires December 31, 2018. For more information visit us online.

Karen Armstrong, LMT, BCTMB is the manager of Clinical Massage at Beaumont Health, which includes four outpatient clinics covering three campuses.  She also manages Beaumont’s nationally recognized oncology and hospital massage program.

Child life specialists: Improving your child’s hospital visit

child life specialist with little boy patient

As certified child life specialists with Beaumont Children’s, our role in the hospital is unique. We are trained professionals in the developmental impact of illness and injury. But what does that even mean?

What we do

Child life specialists help infants, children, youth and families cope with the stress and uncertainty of acute and chronic illness, injury, trauma, disability, loss and bereavement. We provide evidence-based, developmentally and psychologically appropriate interventions, which include therapeutic play; preparation for procedures; and education to reduce fear, anxiety, and pain. We work with the multidisciplinary team, as well as the entire family, to meet the needs of patients, siblings and parents alike to promote a culture of family-centered care throughout all hospital encounters.

We help children by:

  • Educating them on diagnosis, procedures and treatment plans through the use of medical play.
  • Preparing for tests, procedures, and/or surgeries (patients, siblings and family).
  • Supporting them during invasive procedures through the use of distraction and coping skills.
  • Engaging patients in therapeutic and expressive activities to help them cope with fears and anxiety.
  • Advocating for the unique needs of patients and families during and after hospitalization.
  • Promoting family-centered care through psychosocial and emotional support.
  • Normalizing the hospital environment in an effort to promote optimal growth and development.

child life specialist drawing with a young patient and her mom

In order to create a comforting and normalizing environment for patients and families, our department provides additional services. These include pet therapy visits, daily recreational activities that give patients an opportunity to meet and socialize with one another, and special events like our annual holiday parties and Dream Cruise Parade. We also have a schoolteacher and board-certified music therapist on staff.

Where we work within the hospital

Beaumont child life specialists cover multiple areas, including the Center for Children’s Surgery, Pediatric Oncology and Hematology, the inpatient Pediatric and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Short Stay and the Emergency Center. We also have part-time coverage at Beaumont, Troy in its inpatient pediatric unit and emergency center.

Our department attempts to see all children who are hospitalized to provide an assessment of their coping and psychosocial needs. Much like other disciplines, we receive consults from the medical team for patients and families in need.

child life specialist working with young boyChild Life Services is able to do this with the support of Children’s Miracle Network. We hope to expand our services in the future to reach all pediatric patients in Beaumont Health, including the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, pediatric specialty clinics, Pediatric Radiology, etc. We truly love what we do as well as the patients and families we serve! 

Favorite moments from our child life specialists

  • “I had a patient who was afraid of her anesthesia mask. I built rapport with the patient and got her to engage in activities with me to build rapport and trust. I provided preparation with the anesthesia mask to help her become familiar with it. I was able to have her lay down while I was blowing bubbles at her. In the end, she was breathing with the anesthesia mask on while popping bubbles to make it less traumatic.”
  • “We had a 4-year-old who refused to walk admitted to the pediatric unit. She wouldn’t even walk to the playroom. We brought in our pet therapy dog and she walked the dog around the unit multiple times.”
  • “A 7-year-old in the emergency room was screaming and crying whenever a nurse tried to touch her cut. I overheard the nurse say they were going to sedate this patient in order to clean out her wound. After talking calmly with this little girl and explaining (in a developmentally appropriate manner) the procedure of cleaning out her wound, she realized it wasn’t so scary. She engaged in deep breathing with me as the nurse cleaned and wrapped her cut without having to sedate her.”
  • “There was an 11-year-old patient who had severe second degree burn. The patient was extremely anxious and fearful of the painful daily dressing changes and physical therapy sessions. After a medical play session and extensive preparation, the patient worked with me to come up with a positive coping plan that included deep breathing, use of a stress ball, parental presence, and taking 10-second breaks every minute. All of these things helped with coping and compliance with the treatments she was undergoing during this stressful hospitalization.”
  • “A 10-year-old patient came to the emergency center and needed an IV. Her nurse informed me that this patient was very anxious and could use child life services for preparation and procedural support. I worked with this patient by providing education, preparation, and familiarization so that she knew what to expect during the procedure. To provide her with more control and mastery, she performed the procedure on a medical play doll before her own IV start. When it came time for her IV, she was no longer anxious and knew exactly what to expect and how to help make it less painful with deep breathing and distraction.”
  • “I helped create a school program that was manageable for a heart transplant patient. All of his second semester of senior year was spent inpatient. Even though every day was a challenge for him, he was able to graduate on time with his class!” – Schoolteacher
  • “I have many favorite memories of being a music therapist, but there are two that stand out above the rest. My first memory is of a cancer patient using songwriting through her journey and how she used music to express her emotions. The second is developing a heartbeat bereavement program to give parents the gift of music and a piece of their child to hold on to.” – Music Therapist

– Beaumont Children’s Child Life Team: Lisa Kristoff (CCLS), Rose Freigeh (CCLS), Michelle Staubach (CCLS), Amanda Lefkof (CCLS), Jenn Ernst (CCLS), Caroline Wall (CCLS), Holly Platis (MT-BC), Janis Traynor (Schoolteacher), Kathleen Grobbel (CCLS, Manager)

Fun support for speech and language challenges

Pediatric speech therapy

Parents often wonder if they’re doing everything they can to help their children succeed. That’s part of the reason there are so many kid-centered programs available in our community. Many of those groups and classes focus on supporting children’s social and academic growth, as well as engaging them in fun activities.

But what if you want those same things for the children in your life who have speech and language delays? Perhaps you’ve spoken with your pediatrician, initiated an evaluation and treatment, and are doing the home activities provided by your clinician. How can parents provide more, while keeping things appropriate for children with varied abilities and challenges?

Beaumont Health offers various group programs for children with communication difficulties through The Center for Childhood Speech and Language Disorders. These groups support and enhance the individual treatment in which children participate. Most of our group programs run year-round, so there are opportunities to participate throughout the school year and during the summer months as well. In order to provide an optimal experience, children are placed in groups based upon their skills and needs, as well as their ages and schedule availability.

Lil’ Sprouts. The Lil’ Sprouts group program is an educational course designed for parents/caregivers along with their children between the ages of 18 months to 2 ½ years. The goal of this program is to teach parents/caregivers how to increase speech and language within their home environment.

Toddler Group. The Toddler Language Stimulation Program supports expressive language development and speech clarity skills within a peer group. Children between 2 and 3 years old participate in functional, hands-on group activities that promote independent communication skills.

PALS. The PALS group is an intervention program targeting social communication and language development for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Play-based activities are used to target early communication skills including joint attention, eye contact, initiation and requesting, play skills, turn-taking, and transitioning.

PEP Group. The Pragmatic Enrichment Program (PEP) is designed to teach children with language impairments to interact comfortably with their peers. The goal is to help the child have more positive social relationships and more success interacting in the classroom setting. Specific areas of social interactive and pragmatic skills are addressed, and coordinated with children’s individual goals.

Literacy Group. The Literacy Program is aimed at preparing children between the ages of 4 and 7 years for early literacy intervention. Sessions focus on phonological awareness skills including sound-letter correspondence, sound blending, and other skills needed for reading.

There are four metro Detroit locations available to serve the community, including Royal Oak, Grosse Pointe, West Bloomfield, and Macomb Township.

Talk to your pediatrician if you have concerns about your child’s speech and language development. An evaluation by a speech-language pathologist can determine if your child could benefit from individual or group treatment options.

– Emily Rogers, M.A., CCC-SLP, Speech and Language Pathologist, Children’s Speech and Language Pathology Department, Beaumont Health

Getting help through pediatric OT and PT services

Therapist working with a little girl and blocks

Many families ask how to get their children enrolled in physical, occupational or speech therapy.

If you’re a parent and noticing motor or speech delays in your child, a good place to start is at the pediatrician’s office. Pediatricians are excellent at screening motor milestones, listening to parents’ concerns, and making the appropriate referral to one of our outpatient locations. We see children diagnosed with developmental delay, torticollis, cerebral palsy, injury/trauma, toe walking/difficulty walking, hemiplegia, sensory processing disorder, feeding difficulties, incontinence, and various other diagnoses. A child will require a script from the physician that states physical therapy, occupational therapy and/or speech therapy: evaluate and treat.

Another time when a child may require our services is upon discharge from the hospital. We recommend that all children discharged from the NICU receive evaluations from our skilled team of clinicians. Even while the child is in the hospital, he may also receive our services. At the time of discharge, the clinician or the physician may make the referral to one of our five outpatient locations: Royal Oak, Grosse Pointe, West Bloomfield, Macomb and the Center for Exceptional Families located in Dearborn, depending on which location is closest to your home. A good tip is to have the physician at the hospital include the script along with the discharge paperwork. Once the script is obtained, the parent just has to call the office and set up an appointment time.

All of our locations believe in a team approach in order to treat the child holistically. Our specialized therapists collaborate with the patient’s family and team of physicians to develop customized treatment plans. We typically see children from birth to age 16, although sometimes patients are older depending on the diagnosis. At the time of the evaluation, the clinician will recommend the most appropriate frequency to achieve success. The frequency is generally highest at the initiation of treatment and then decreases as the child meets his or her goals over time.

Each child progresses at his or her own rate and the treatment plan is tailored to success. The treatment sessions are individual; however the child may be recommended for a group session which is offered year round. We see success from the individual treatment sessions and the groups. Sometimes children progress quicker in a group setting along with their peers, and it can be fun. Some of our most popular groups are: dance, yoga, little crunchers/big munchers (feeding groups), social groups and handwriting without tears.

Eventually the child will be discharged from therapy services when the individual goals are met or when services are no longer recommended. However discharge doesn’t mean goodbye forever. We may close the child’s chart for a period of time, but we recommend that parents keep us updated on their child’s progress and home exercise program success. It’s not uncommon for children to require additional services as they grow and encounter new challenges.

Our team is here to support your child’s growth and optimize their success.

– Christina Paniccia PT, DPT, is a pediatric supervisor at Neighborhood Club, Beaumont, Grosse Pointe.

Empty arms: The complicated grief of perinatal loss and how Beaumont can help

 Lots of lit tealight candles

Today, October 15, is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

For many parents, the moment they learn they’re expecting, they begin to attach to their baby. They begin planning. Dreaming. Thinking about all they want and hope for their yet-to-be born child.

The greatest heartbreak is when there is a pregnancy loss. This loss is often devastating because it’s not only the loss of a child, but the loss of all the hopes and dreams parents had for their child. Intense grieving often follows.

Many parents who’ve suffered the loss of their baby find much comfort and support in Beaumont’s Looking Ahead Bereaved Parents Support Group, a group specifically designed to meet the needs of parents who’ve lost a baby.

How our group can help

Our support group focuses on the very specific loss involved in pregnancy, stillbirth or death of an infant. Our members find the group particularly helpful because they’re with others who’ve experienced a similar loss. Parents can really express the intensity of their loss openly.

Tips for your support system

Often family, friends and co-workers may mean well with their comments and reactions, but sometimes these are hurtful as well. Comments like “Your baby’s an angel in heaven now,” “It’s for the best,” “You’ll get pregnant again soon,” “Why are you still so sad?” are upsetting.

Instead, it’s best for family members and friends to just listen and be non-judgmental. The best response is often as simple as “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

It’s also helpful to recall and remember the baby who died. Refer to the baby by name. One of the greatest concerns that grieving parents have is that their child will be forgotten. Grieving parents want and need acknowledgment that their baby existed. That they are parents and their baby mattered and is remembered.

Join us

Our Looking Ahead Bereaved Parents Support Group is a drop-in group, so pre-registration isn’t necessary. Parents can come to just one group, or attend monthly. The group is facilitated by Judy Kotzen, LMSW, a medical social worker at Beaumont Health.

  • When: The second Tuesday of every month from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
  • Where: Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak in the Administration Building West (AB-West) at 3601 W 13 Mile Rd, Royal Oak, Michigan 48073. Enter in the Administration Building’s main entrance, then follow the signs to the private dining room on the first floor.
  • Parking: Park in the South Deck (green)

For additional information

Please contact Judy Kotzen at (248) 898-7219.

Lil’ Sprouts: A Parent/Child Educational Program

Offered by the Beaumont Children’s Hospital Center for Childhood Speech and Language Disorders, Lil’ Sprouts is a 10-week course designed for parents/caregivers with their children. The goal of this program is to teach parents/caregivers how to increase speech and language within their home environment. Children enrolled may be developing at a normal/average rate or may be delayed in speech and language development. Children are between the ages of 18 months and 2½ years. Due to limited space, we request that siblings do not attend the Lil’ Sprout sessions.

Session Format

  • We meet for 10 consecutive Tuesdays from 5:00 – 5:50 p.m.
  • The first 25 minutes of each session: We discuss our topic and teach you and your child how to complete a task related to our topic.
  • The next 10 minutes are spent at a table for a snack. During snack time, the clinician will help the children use word approximations, sign language, or simple words to request for food.
  • The final 10 minutes: We do a circle time activity and sing a song related to our weekly topic.

Each week your family is given a handout with home program ideas and ways for you to increase your child’s speech and language development at home. Please feel free to interact with other families in the group. This is a time to find out what works for other families and try ideas out on your own!

Summer Term Schedule

  • Week 1: First Day! Speech and Sound Development and Sign Language
  • Week 2: The Development of Receptive Language Skills (Part 1 of 2)
  • Week 3: The Development of Receptive Language Skills (Part 2 of 2)
  • Week 4: The Development of Expressive Language Skills (Part 1 of 2)
  • Week 5: The Development of Expressive Language Skills (Part 2 of 2)
  • Week 6: The Interaction of Play Skills and Communication
  • Week 7: The Interaction of Sensory Skills and Communication
  • Week 8: The Interaction of Oral Motor Skills and Communication
  • Week 9: Idea and Toy Exchange
  • Week 10: Last Day! Wrap Up and Review and Recommendations

Enrollment Information

  • The summer term runs June 16 – Aug. 18, 2015.
  • Sessions will be held at the Beaumont Health Center in Royal Oak and the Beaumont Medical Office Building in West Bloomfield. Please contact one of the locations if youare interested in enrolling for the summer term.
    • Royal Oak: (248) 655-5975
    • West Bloomfield: (248) 855-4480
  • We will be taking payments during the first class. If you need to set up a payment plan, we will do so during the first visit. There are no refunds for this group program.