Child Life Month

How Play is Helping UMMC’s Youngest Patients

By: Colleen Schmidt, System Communications Intern

As many parents know, the hospital can be a scary and unfamiliar place for a child. To help relax these fears, UMMC’s team of child life specialists and assistants use a variety of techniques to help children adjust to the hospital setting. Child life specialists, or CLS, aim to provide a positive and non-traumatic hospital experience for all patients at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital.  UMMC’s Child Life team consists of six CLS and two assistants. They work in the Pediatric Progressive Care Unit (PPCU), Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and the Pediatric ER.

Members of the Child Life Team

 

Play is one technique often used by child life team to help normalize the child’s hospital experience.  Various types of play are thoughtfully used to help children meet developmental milestones, express emotions, and understand their medical situation.  For example, during a practice called medical play, a CLS will provide their patient with a “hospital buddy” or small doll that the child can decorate. Next, with the guidance of a CLS, the child is introduced to medical equipment that they can explore and use on their new hospital buddy.  According to Aubrey Donley, a CLS at the pediatric ER, medical play is helpful in addressing misconceptions the child has about medical equipment.

“It gives them a sense of control and mastery over their hospital experience and over what they’ve been through,” she explains. Medical play empowers patients and allows them to have an active role in their hospitalization. Helping the children understand their environment lessens the chances of confusing or traumatizing them.

In addition to medical play, the child life team uses therapeutic play to help children work through a variety of issues that may accompany hospitalization. Sometimes, children who are hospitalized have experienced severe trauma. Unlike adults, children may not be able to verbalize their feelings. Play is how they express themselves and work through their experiences. For instance, one of Donley’s young patients survived a house fire and used play to understand what happened to him. “He was running around in a fireman costume pretending to put out a fire. For an onlooker, it might seem like he was just playing but we understand he is trying to make sense of the chaos and trauma that he had witnessed,” she explained. Therapeutic play can also help children who are at the hospital for long periods of time meet their physical and cognitive milestones.

With backgrounds in child development, the child life team is able to make individual plans for each child that matches their medical, physical, and emotional needs.  The team advocates for the children they support, and work with an interdisciplinary team of medical professionals to provide a comprehensive plan for that child. Child life specialists also provide educational and emotional support for families. All services provided by the child life team come at no charge to families.


For more information on our child life services please visit: http://umm.edu/programs/childrens/services/inpatient/child-life

Winter Wives’ Tale

The University of Maryland Children’s Hospital sets the record straight…

Put on your hat since you lose most of your body heat through your head.”
This is not necessarily true! Your body heat escapes from any exposed area- so if you had on snow pants and a T-shirt and you forget your hat and jacket, the most amount of heat would escape through your arms- since that would be the largest exposed part of your body. Putting on winter accessories such as hats, mittens and scarves is still a very good idea to avoid the outside dangers of frostbite and hypothermia.

You will get sick if you go outside with wet hair.”
This is another winter wives’ tale. While your kids may be cold, they won’t actually catch a cold by venturing outdoors with a wet head. Germs are spread by people, and temperature simply doesn’t play a part.

 

Occupational Therapist Brings Holiday Cheer to NICU with Photo Shoot

img_9300-3Just before the holiday season, Lisa Glass, an occupational therapist in The Drs. Rouben and Violet Jiji Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) set up a Christmas photo shoot to show off the festive side of some of our tiniest patients.

Glass, who enjoys photography in her spare time, developed the idea for the photo-shoot as a “cute way to give some nice holiday photos to parents”. Since NICU babies are often among the sickest children in the hospital, and need round the clock medical care, it can be difficult for parents to appreciate the traditional joys of having a newborn. Especially during the first few critical months of life, this can include newborn pictures. Glass and her coworkers wanted to be able to “highlight how beautiful [these] babies are,” and give parents a view of their child in a more upbeat and positive light.

img_9142-3After work hours, Glass and two physical therapy coworkers in the University of Maryland Department of Rehabilitation Services, Laura Evans and Carly Funk, went from room to room, and for four and a half hours, photographed over 30 babies. Following the photography session, Glass edited her pictures, emailed them to parents, and even printed a few copies to surprise parents in their babies’ rooms. Following the photo shoot, she received many happy emails thanking her for what she had done. But for Glass, going above and beyond to show compassion and joy was an easy feat.

“For me, it was a pleasure to interact with the babies and the parents”, said Glass. “Parents are used to seeing their children as sick patients, not as beautiful babies. It’s important to see your patients not just as patients, but as people, too.”

Glass also emphasized the importance of teamwork in this endeavor.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do this without [Laura and Carly’s] help the whole way through.” This NICU trio showcases the importance of working together to bring some extra joy to UMMC.

Glass’ photography serves as a great reminder to see patients as the people they are, and not simply for the medical treatment they are receiving. Although these babies may have breathing tubes and cords surrounding them, they are also enveloped in a multitude of love and support.

trilpets-single-photos



Working Hard to Engage West Baltimore Communities

Members from UMMC’s Community and Workforce Development and Commitment to Excellence teams visited Mr. Barnett’s 5th grade class at James McHenry Elementary/Middle School.

The team dropped off 32 book bags (one for each student) filled with books and school supplies. Students also received holiday toys, donated by UMMC employees and staff. Additionally, through UMMC Commitment to Excellence holiday “Give Back Campaign”, UMMC employees and staff donated socks, undershirts, underwear, and other under garments to James McHenry Elementary/Middle School’s Uniform Closet.

UMMC has officially “adopted” this class, and will be closely working with them to provide mentoring, professional development and engagement opportunities. The UMMC community will continue to work with these students through middle school, high school, college and beyond!

This is just one example of how UMMC is continually working to improve the lives of those in its surrounding communities. UMMC aims to identify and address critical issues in West Baltimore by building permanent relationships with individuals and organizations in the area.

Some other UMMC initiatives include:

  • Launching the Stanford Living Well/Chronic Disease Management Program.
  • Implementing the BHEC Baltimore City-wide Community Health Work Training Certificate Program.
  • Sponsoring 50 youth in the 2017 Youth Works Internship program.
  • Initiating meetings with West Baltimore community organizations to introduce new CEO and re-establish collaborative relationships.

 

Learn more about UMMC’s community engagement efforts on our website: http://umm.edu/community

 

“No Screens Under 2” Q&A with Dr. Brenda Hussey-Gardner

brenda-hussey-gardnerHi, my name is Dr. Brenda Hussey-Gardner. I am a developmental specialist who works with the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. I attended the American Academy of Pediatrics conference in San Francisco to share the results of research that I have done with colleagues here at the University of Maryland and to learn what other researchers are doing across the nation in order to bring this new knowledge back to the hospital to better serve our children and their families. At this conference, the American Academy of Pediatrics released their new guidelines regarding screen time and children.

Please see the Q&A here for more information on these guidelines.

Q: What is the “No Screens Under 2” rule and in what ways is it changing?

A: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) previously recommended no screen time for children under 2 years of age. In its new guidelines, the AAP offers slightly different recommendations for children less than 18 months and those 18 to 24 months of age.

Children less than 18 months

The AAP discourages parents from using digital media with one exception: video-chatting (e.g., Skype, FaceTime). This form of interactive media can be used, with parent support, to foster social relationships with distant relatives.

Children 18 to 24 months

The AAP recommends that parents, who want to introduce their child to digital media, do the following:

  1. Only use high-quality educational content.
  2. Always watch shows or use apps with your child. Talking about what the child sees helps foster learning.
  3. Never allow your child to use media alone.
  4.  Limit media to a maximum of 1 hour per day.
  5. Avoid all screen time during meals, parent-child playtime and an hour before bedtime.

Q: Can you provide some insight into how the decision was made? What research was taken into account?

A: The AAP Council on Communications and Media reviewed research on child development, television, videos and mobile/interactive technologies to develop their current recommendations. Research shows that children under the age of 2 years need two things to develop their thinking, language, motor and social-emotional skills: (1) they need to interact with their parents and other loving caregivers, and (2) they need hands-on experiences with the real world. In fact, researchers have demonstrated that infants and toddlers don’t yet have the symbolic, memory and attention skills needed to learn from digital media. Importantly, research also shows evidence of harm (e.g., delayed thinking, language and social-emotional development; poorer executive functioning) from excessive media use with young children.

Q: Why do these new guidelines matter to parents, and should they affect the ways parents and their young children interact with technology?

A: AAP guidelines matter because parents want their children to be well adjusted and smart, and they don’t want to do anything that may harm their child’s development. As such, parents should try their best to avoid screens with their children who are less than 18 months of age and realize that it is their interactions with their child that are the most important. Then, from 18 to 24 months of age, parents should strive to use only the highest quality educational technology with their child. As hard as it is, parents should try to avoid using technology as a babysitter and try to understand the negative impact that it can have on their child’s development.

Q: What is your biggest take-away from the session?

A: A parent’s lap is always better than any app!

Q: What is your opinion on the new guidelines and do you think it will affect your clinical practice? If so, how?

A: I believe that the new AAP guidelines, while a little more flexible, may still be difficult for parents to adhere to, as screen time is so pervasive in our society. However, it is very important for parents to make smart choices about digital media and screen time if they want to help their infant and toddler develop into a child who is healthy and ready for success in preschool. It is my goal to develop a pamphlet summarizing the research findings and AAP guidelines to help parents make the best choices for their child and family.

 

For more information about media, screen time, and child development, parents are encouraged to read the AAP recommendations located within the publication “Media and Young Minds,” and to read the “Early Learning and Educational Technology Brief” published by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Signs of Bullying

This information is provided by University of Maryland Children’s Hospital, the Center for Infant and Child Loss and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

As a parent, there are many things you need to diligently watch for in your child. One of them is to look for signs of bullying.

There are health risks related to depression for the victim, bully, and those who witness bullying, which may include:

  • Irritability or angerdoctor-consoling-patient-126648704
  • Nightmares
  • Headaches
  • Stomachaches
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Multiple joint and muscle pains
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Depression
  • Difficulties in falling and/or staying asleep
  • Self-injury (i.e., cutting)
  • Impulsivity
  • Suicide attempts
  • Homicidal thoughts

If your child is experiencing any of the above, talk with them, and contact their pediatrician or teacher. For more information call 800-808-7437.

 

 

8 Tips to Confront Bullying in School

This information is provided by University of Maryland Children’s Hospital, the Center for Infant and Child Loss and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

bullyingBullying is a behavior that is both repeated and intended to hurt someone either physically, emotionally, or both. It can take many forms like teasing, name calling, making threats, physical assaults, and cyber-bullying.

If your child is being bullied and is attending one of Maryland’s public schools, you and your child have the right to report your concerns. The school also has the responsibility to investigate those concerns. Here are eight tips to stop bullying and report the problem:

  • Ask your child’s teacher, counselor, or administrator if you can speak privately about a personal problem. Talk about what is happening or making you (or your child) uncomfortable, and how long it’s been going on.
  • Ask for a Bullying, Harassment or Intimidation Reporting Form; or download at GracesLawMaryland.com. Complete the form, return one copy to the administrator, and keep a copy for yourself.
  • Feel free to call the Maryland State Department of Education if you have additional questions regarding the completion of the Bullying Form. You can reach them at 410-767-0031.
  • If an incident occurs in an unstructured area, ask what the school will do to make you (or your child) feel safe.
  • Ask the administrator to investigate allegations, develop a plan of support and schedule a meeting.
  • If your child is being bullied on a social media site, take a screen shot and save the content to share with parents, police, and the school administration. Fill out a report as often as you need to.
  • Change your password, use privacy settings, and block people on social media who send negative messages, texts, tweets or photos.
  • Ask friends not to share negative social media or pass along to others.

For more information call 800-808-7437.

Protect Your Skin This Summer

By Kirsten Bannan, System Communications Intern

As the summer progresses the initial sunburn has faded and it’s time to think about protecting your skin. Everyone wants that bronze glow that comes with a summer tan, but most people are sun picnot aware of the damage the sun can cause to your skin and your health. Here are some facts and tips that will help you protect your skin this summer.

Skin Cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Most skin cancers are caused by exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) rays. The sun emits these rays and you can get extra exposure from using tanning beds or sun lamps. “People who use tanning salons are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma, and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. According to recent research, first exposure to tanning beds in youth increases melanoma risk by 75 percent” (Skin Cancer Foundation). There are two types of UV radiation that affect the skin: UVA and UVB. Both kinds of rays can cause skin cancer, weaken the immune system, contribute to premature aging of the skin, and cataracts (See our Cataract Awareness Article).

UVA Rays– they are not absorbed by the ozone layer and penetrate skin to contribute to premature aging. “They account for up to 95 percent of the UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface” (Skin Cancer Foundation). UVA is the prevalent tanning ray; tanning itself is actually damage to the skin’s DNA. The Skin gets darker in an attempt to protect from further DNA damage.

UVB Rays– they are partially absorbed by the ozone layer and are the primary cause to sunburn. They play a very large role in the development of skin cancer. The most intensive UVB rays hit the Earth around 10am to 4pm from April to October.

There are protective measures that you can take to prevent against damage and skin cancer. Since the sun can damage your skin in as few as 15 minutes, it’s important to put sunscreen on when you know you will be outside for an extended period of time. Sunscreen works by absorbing, reflecting, or scattering sunlight. They contain chemicals that interact with the skin to protect it from UV rays.
Here are some other tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on sun safety:

A wet T-shirt offers much less UV protection than a dry one, and darker colors may offer more protection than lighter colors.

A regular T-shirt has an SPF rating lower than 15, so use other types of protection as well.

Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts. They also protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure.

o Sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection. Most sunglasses sold in the United States, regardless of cost, meet this standard. Wrap-around sunglasses work best because they block UV rays from sneaking in from the side.

SPF. Sunscreens are assigned a sun protection factor (SPF) number that rates their effectiveness in blocking UV rays. Higher numbers indicate more protection. You should use a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15.

Reapplication. Sunscreen wears off. Put it on again if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.

Cosmetics. Some makeup and lip balms contain some of the same chemicals used in sunscreens. If they do not have at least SPF 15, don’t use them by themselves.

Sunscreen is one of the best ways of protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. Make sure to get a sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreen labels that have “Broad Spectrum” means they protect against both kinds of rays. You also want to make sure to know the difference between “water resistant” and “waterproof”. The American Cancer Society says that “No sunscreens are waterproof or “sweat proof,” and manufacturers are no longer allowed to claim that they are. If a product’s front label makes claims of being water resistant, it must specify whether it lasts for 40 minutes or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating”. They recommend reapplying every two hours and even sooner if you are sweating or swimming.

No matter what summer activities you have planned this summer, make sure you protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. It takes 2 minutes to apply sunscreen and that can help save you from a lifetime of skin damage or even skin cancer.

Take a Sun Safety IQ Quiz from the American Cancer Society:
http://www.cancer.org/healthy/toolsandcalculators/quizzes/sun-safety/index’

Sources:
http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/sun-safety.htm
https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/documents/sunscreen.pdf
http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/radiationexposureandcancer/uvradiation/uv-radiation-avoiding-uv
http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/features/stay-sun-safe-this-summer
http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/uva-and-uvb

Safe Firework Fun

FireworkSafetyBy Kirsten Bannan, System Communications Intern

Summer is in full swing and as the temperature increases, so does the amount of summer events happening. The 4th of July is right around the corner and everyone knows it is a popular holiday to spend time with family and friends and enjoy some summer traditions such as fireworks.

Sometimes holiday fun is not as harmless as you might think. Even though fireworks seem like a safe and fun way to spend the holiday, “230 people on average go to the emergency room with firework-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday” (US Consumer Product Safety Commission).

A sparkler, popular to most at-home firework displays, can heat up to about 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which can cause serious burns especially if in the hands of children. Kids aren’t the only ones who need to be careful; the age group most susceptible to injuries by fireworks is the 20-40 age groups which are usually the age group responsible for lighting fireworks at home. Sometimes the influence of alcohol can contribute to high numbers of injury during at- home firework displays.

Karen Hardingham RN, BSN, CPST Safe Kids Baltimore Coalition Coordinator has some helpful tips for those who still want to include fireworks in their 4th of July experience. She is most adamant about attending professional firework displays rather than at-home shows. She says, “leave it to the professionals, do be aware of labels and laws of the area, and look at alternatives.”

Some events in the Baltimore area to attend are as follows:

  • Baltimore’s Fourth of July Celebration presented by Ports America Chesapeake
    Location: Baltimore Inner Harbor, 561 Light Street, Baltimore, MD 21202
  • Fullerton Park
    Location: 4304 Fullerton Avenue, Baltimore 21236
    Rain Date: July 5
  • Loch Raven Academy
    Location: 8101 Lasalle Road, Towson 21286
    Rain Date: July 5
  • Catonsville High School
    Location: 421 Bloomsbury Avenue, Catonsville 21228
    Rain Date: July 9

For a full list of public firework displays in Maryland click here.

If you are determined to have an at-home firework show, consider substituting hand-held sparklers with glow sticks, which decreases the chance of hands or clothes getting burned. Here are some other safety tips about fireworks to help get the best out of the holiday the safe way, courtesy of Safe Kids Worldwide:

  •  If you plan to use fireworks, make sure they are legal in your area.
  •  Do not wear loose clothing while using fireworks.
  •  Never light fireworks indoors or near dry grass.
  •  Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush, leaves and flammable substances
  •  Stand several feet away from lit fireworks. If a device does not go off, do not stand over it to  investigate it. Put it out with water and dispose of it.
  •  Always have a bucket of water and/or a fire extinguisher nearby. Know how to operate the fire  extinguisher properly.
  • If a person is injured by fireworks, immediately go to a doctor or hospital. If an eye injury occurs, don’t allow the person to touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage.

Being aware of the local firework laws are especially important. The Baltimore City Fire Department confirms that all fireworks, even sparklers are against the law in Baltimore City unless a permit and approval is given from the office of the Fire Marshall. Depending on the area, it is important to know the firework laws before having a display of your own. Violators of these laws are subject to a misdemeanor fine of up to $250. The holidays are about spending time with friends and family, so before deciding to make your own firework display, consider the consequences and alternatives for a safe and fun 4th of July.

For a PDF with more statistics on Firework Injuries from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission click here.

Sources:

http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/fire/safety%20education/fireworks.html
http://www.fireworkssafety.org/
https://www.safekids.org/tip/fireworks-safety-tips
http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Neighborhood-Safety-Network/Posters/Fireworks-Injuries/

UM Children’s Hospital Patient Gives Back in a Big Way

Michelle Kaminaris, a kindergarten teacher at Hampstead Hill Academy in East Baltimore, has seen kids miss school for all kinds of reasons. Like most of us, she never expected her own child to miss school due to a serious illness. But when her daughter Eva (an eighth grader at Hampstead Hill Academy) started showing flu-like symptoms, a trip to the doctor confirmed that Eva would be missing school due to pneumonia.

From there, Eva had more tests and doctors found a tumor on her ovaries. The tumor was removed after an emergency surgery, but she still had to spend time recovering at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital (UMCH). While she endured a slew of poking and prodding and scary medical diagnoses, it was the Child Life team and other skilled nurses at UMCH who made her hospital stay a positive experience.

Group Photo

Eva (fourth from left) and Hampstead Hill Academy’s Kiwanis Builders Club pose with their donation to UMCH

“We had unbelievably phenomenal care. I never had to leave my daughter,” Michelle said. “One of the nurses even gave up his lunch hour to take Eva to play and walk around.”

Post-discharge and feeling better, Eva was determined to give back to the place that took such great care of her. She started looking online for ways to help and found UMCH’s toy wish list.

She sought help from her school’s Kiwanis Builders Club, and recruited some of her friends and classmates to help. The club, seven members strong, started planning fundraisers, bake sales, art supply and Band-Aid drives, and a paint night.

Shannon Joslin Builders Club

Shannon Joslin, Child Life Manager, describes the Child Life Program to the Hampstead Hill Academy Kiwanis Builders Club

The students stayed after school one day to stretch the canvases for the paint night by hand and helped cook food for the event. Thirty-five families came out after school to support the club and raise money for the cause.

The club went shopping for items on the UMCH wish list with the money from the fundraisers. They picked out high-demand items like DVDs, video games, building block sets and card games, all which they personally delivered to the hospital.

As Eva heads to high school, she wants to ensure that this is not a one-time donation. Even if she can’t start the club at her new high school, she plans to keep in touch and continue giving back to UMCH. Michelle’s youngest child, inspired by Eva’s involvement and by UMCH’s great care, plans continue the family tradition and join the Hampstead Hill Builders Club next year.

Many thanks to the Hampstead Hill Academy’s Kiwanis Builders Club! Your continued support of the Children’s Hospital ensures we have the resources available to make every patient’s stay comfortable and fun.

Learn more about the Child Life Program and meet the team.

Interested in giving to the Children’s Hospital? Here’s how you can help.