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July 2017

Staying active improves life for kids and parents

SH_StayHealthyKids_20173Childhood obesity is a serious problem in the United States. Today about one in five individuals ages 6 to 19 is overweight, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Teaching children the importance of nutrition and maintaining an active lifestyle is one way to combat this trend.

UHS Stay Healthy Kids is a family-based education program that aims to help school-age children (K through 12) and their families be more active and eat more healthfully. The program was revamped in 2015 by three UHS experts: Megan Farmer, a registered nurse and coordinator of the program; Karen Bayer, a registered nurse and director of Community Health Education; and Robert Auerbach, MD, a pediatrician at UHS.

Rather than focusing primarily on weight and body mass index, the program looks to improve the entire family’s lifestyle. Working closely with the children’s referring physicians, Ms. Farmer meets with families in a classroom setting or individually. Sessions take place at the UHS Stay Healthy Center at the Oakdale Mall, at the Norwich YMCA, and at St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Sidney.

Topics include:

  • How to make exercise more accessible, encouraging families to see what the community has to offer in terms of fitness, such as parks, walking trails and tennis courts
  • How to plan healthier meals and shop for groceries on a budget
  • How to cook with more nutritious ingredients and cut back on fats and sugars
  • How to set health and fitness goals as an individual and as a family.

“It’s so important to involve the whole family in the program, because those decisions affect everyone’s short- and long-term health,” Ms. Bayer said. “Setting aside 10 minutes for a small goal is a simple change that can quickly become a new, healthier habit.”

Concussion myths can pose a threat

SH_ConcussionWebstory_20172Don’t believe everything you’ve heard around the water-cooler about concussions. Some common ideas about head injury are dangerous myths. Learn the facts about concussion and consult your healthcare provider if you or a loved one experiences such an injury.

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that occurs when the head sustains a direct or indirect blow, often caused by a fall, accident or sports mishap.

Doctors at the UHS Concussion Center on the Vestal Parkway caution against certain misconceptions that have grown up around concussion over the years and, if acted on, can worsen the effects for a person who has received a blow to the head.

These include:

  • Myth – You can tell right away if someone has had a concussion.
  • Fact – Symptoms can appear immediately, or can be delayed. Headache, dizziness, light-sensitivity or loss of consciousness can appear immediately. Delayed symptoms, which can seem unconnected to the injury, may include vomiting, mood swings, fatigue, unsteady balance or cognitive defects. 
  • Myth – Once symptoms subside, it’s OK to rejoin activities.
  • Fact – Immediate symptoms don’t reveal the extent of concussion damage. That’s why the UHS Concussion Center maintains an integrated team of experts to evaluate patients. And athletic trainers at sporting events are oriented to sideline anyone who has a head injury and see that they get proper medical attention before resuming a game.
  • Myth – If you get a blow to the head, you can just “walk it off.”
  • Fact – The standard for concussion treatment is rest until a further evaluation can determine whether the patient is symptom-free, said UHS specialist Stanley Hunter, MD.

Swim smart to swim safely

SwimmersIn most cases, a drowning or other water emergency will happen when the victim least expects it.

That’s why UHS and the American Red Cross emphasize that, while swimming and other aquatic activities can provide hours of fun for children and adults alike, water needs to be respected and taken seriously.

Learning to swim is key. It’s also vital to follow the proven rules for water safety. This is true whether your activity is taking place at the beach, at a lake, near a mountain stream or in your backyard pool.

Here are some lifesaving tips:

  • Swim only in a designated area.
  • Swim only in an area supervised by a lifeguard.
  • Never swim alone; always have a buddy with you.
  • Read and obey any and all signs with officially posted rules.
  • Designate at least one responsible individual to be the person who will watch over children whenever they are in, on or around a body of water, even if a lifeguard is present.
  • Have young children and inexperienced swimmers take extra precautions, such as wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket, when around the water and staying within arm’s reach of the designated water-watcher.
  • Make sure swimmers know about the water environment and any potential hazards, such as deep and shallow areas, currents, obstructions and the locations of entry and exit points. The more informed people are, the more they will be aware of hazards and how to engage in safe practices.