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Summer Concussions, Autism Intervention, CPR for Pets, Research Careers
Research at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia touches all aspects of our lives — including our favorite furry friends — as this week’s news roundup shows. Find out why a pediatric critical care expert thinks it’s valuable for pet owners, even those who aren’t parents, to know about pediatric cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Learn about special considerations for summertime concussions. Read why some consider a common one-on-one intervention for children with autism to be controversial. And see examples of how CHOP is committed to educating researchers at all levels.
ABC’s of Concussion Care When School is Out
The start of the school year is just around the corner, and it is important for a child who experienced a concussion over the summer to anticipate their academic workload. In a blog post written for the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP), Daniel Corwin, MD, a pediatric emergency medicine specialist at CHOP and an associate fellow at CIRP with a research focus on concussion injury, explained some differences in concussion management during the summertime.
Dr. Corwin pointed out that when school is out for the summer, children with concussions aren’t exposed to the same cognitive workload and vestibular demands as when they’re in classrooms. After a brief period of rest (usually 24 to 48 hours) with symptom improvement, gradually adding in academic-type work in addition to physical activity can help children to adequately rehabilitate shortly after the injury. Yet, he reminded parents to be on the lookout if a child starts re-experiencing symptoms when school resumes.
“If they begin exhibiting symptoms, their activity levels should be scaled back to what is tolerated, in concert with their primary doctor,” Dr. Corwin said.
Opinions on Widely Used Therapy for Children With Autism
Spectrum, an online news site that covers topics related to autism, asked Susan Levy, MD, MPH, a developmental pediatrician at CHOP and a member of the Center for Autism Research (CAR), about “the controversy over autism’s most common therapy.”
Applied behavioral analysis (ABA) is a one-on-one intervention that helps children practice behaviors, such as social skills, step by step. But some advocacy groups question this approach, suggesting that it doesn’t work for every child with autism and in some cases could be harmful because it treats people with autism as abnormal instead of naturally different.
Spectrum reported in an in-depth article about why both sides of the controversy have such strong opinions. They interviewed multiple sources, including Dr. Levy, who served five years ago on a review panel for the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality that assessed studies on therapies for children with autism spectrum disorders. The panel concluded that although evidence supporting ABA-style therapies was not of the highest quality, these therapies are effective for improving cognitive performance, language skills, and adaptive behavior in some children.
“There is a lot of good clinical evidence that it is effective in helping little kids learn new skills and can appropriately intervene with behaviors or characteristics that may interfere with progress,” Dr. Levy told Spectrum, adding that there are also other types of ABA that might be more appropriate for older children who need less support.
CAR’s website reminds parents that choosing a treatment, course of action, and/or a resource is a personal decision, which should take into account each individual’s and family’s particular circumstances. For more information about ABA and other autism resources, visit CAR’s Autism Roadmap.
Mouth to Snout: CPR for Pets
Dogs certainly can be man’s best friend, but the roles are reversed when it comes to emergency CPR for pets. A blog by American Heart Association News reports that, “Researchers have translated human resuscitation guidelines and training for pet owners, preparing them to use CPR to save their furriest family members.” However, adoption of the 2012 animal CPR guidelines has been slow.
CHOP pediatric critical care specialist Vinay Nadkarni, MD, who wrote an editorial that accompanied publication of the animal guidelines, told AHA News that pet CPR training introduces the concepts of human CPR, which could lead more pet owners to learn the technique for people.
The article explains that cardiac arrests in dogs and cats are similar to those in children, often resulting from breathing problems rather than heart issues, and as with children, pets need both rescue breaths and chest compressions.
We reported in the March issue of Bench to Bedside that more than 3,000 children die each year in the U.S. alone after cardiac arrest in hospitals. In that article, Dr. Nadkarni described how CHOP clinicians and researchers are pioneering new strategies to improve cardiac arrest treatment outcomes for children. Our August issue of Bench to Bedside offers insight into CHOP efforts to improve community-based CPR for sudden cardiac arrest outside the hospital.
CHOP Research Institute Cultivates Undergraduate Scholars
Nurturing and developing diverse young talent in the biomedical workforce is an essential part of the CHOP Research Institute’s commitment to educating researchers at all levels. In August, the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and Rutgers University School of Environmental and Biological Sciences partnered for the annual “Rutgers Research Careers Experience.”
The goal of this partnership is to expose historically underrepresented minority students to pediatric research as a viable career option. During the day-long event Aug. 5, students learned about research being conducted at CHOP and had opportunities to interact with scientists in a variety of positions. The day also included a tour of the hospital and visits to various laboratories where students were introduced to current techniques being used to address research questions.
The annual Poster Day for the CHOP Research Institute Summer Scholars Program (CRISSP), held Aug. 11, followed on the heels of the Rutgers visit. CRISSP is a 10-week summer internship for undergraduate students that allows them to work with a faculty member and conduct research at CHOP. While here, CRISSP students also mentor historically underrepresented minority high school students, sharing their journey and experiences in STEM fields and giving advice on the college application process and experience. A selection of photos and the list of the Poster Day award winners is available on the CHOP Research Institute Facebook page.
In case you missed it earlier this week on Cornerstone, we highlighted key quotes from an interview in a DocTalk YouTube video with Flaura Winston, MD, PhD, scientific director and founder of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at CHOP and professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Last week’s In the News post covered a new state car seat law, a hotline to help physicians avoid overprescribing psychotropic drugs to children, and an electronic portal to coordinate care for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
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