Leave a comment

Extra Life: How to Play Games and Be a Hero for Kids

familyby Randy Bradford
Father and Extra Life Enthusiast

You probably think that playing games and helping sick children have nothing to do with each other. But that’s only because you haven’t heard about Extra Life.

Extra Life is a 24-hour gaming marathon that allows kids and adults to raise funds for a children’s hospital of their choice. Participants create a fundraising page online and then invite their friends and family to sponsor their participation in the marathon. Extra Lifers can commit to playing any type of game for 24 hours–videogames, computer games, tabletop games, or card games to basketball, soccer, croquet, and more.

Everyone who participates in Extra Life does so for their own personal reason. Here’s my story of why I Extra Life:

On April 24, 2014 my beautiful baby girl, Eleanor, was born. She was perfect. Eleanor was born more than three weeks early, but at five pounds, she weighed enough that she didn’t have to go to the NICU.quote

The day after we brought her home from the hospital, my wife felt that something was not right. We called our doctor and she suggested we go to Primary Children’s Hospital. When we got there, Eleanor’s vitals were lower than they should have been. We were most concerned about her temperature. Eleanor couldn’t keep her core temperature up and the doctors weren’t sure why.

XTRALIFEFluids (i.e., blood, urine, and spinal) were drawn to see if cultures would grow over the next 36 hours. If cultures did grow, the doctors would know what she was sick with and how to treat it. Remarkably, as we waited to see, our daughter’s health began to improve. The cultures all came back negative, meaning she didn’t have any kind of infection, and we soon returned home. It’s been four months since our daughter’s scare and she is perfectly happy and healthy.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Primary Children’s Hospital and how grateful I am for them. The staff was, in a word, “amazing.” They were able to take a scary situation and make my wife and I feel at peace. The nurses we had are heroes in my eyes.

You never want to have to take your child to the hospital, but if the need arises, Primary Children’s is where you want to be. My family was lucky. We were only there for 48 hours. When we left the hospital, there were families whose children had much more challenging health problems to overcome. My heart goes out to these families and I want to help in any way I can. It’s for this reason that I know I have to give back. I’ve chosen to give back to Primary Children’s Hospital by participating in Extra Life.

Extra Life is all about being a hero for the kids. Do you have a Primary Children’s hero? Perhaps it’s a really brave family member or friend who has been a patient there. Or maybe it’s the hospital staff that cared for your loved one during his/her hospital stay. Extra Life is your chance to honor those heroes by helping to raise funds for hospital programs that support Primary Children’s patients and their families.

The National Game Day will begin at 8 a.m. central time on Saturday, October 25th, and ends at 8 a.m. on Sunday, October 26th. However you can participate whenever it’s convenient for you. Some folks break the 24 hours into multiple segments. Be a hero! Register to participate at Extra-Life.org.

Leave a comment

Kids and Concussions: Q & A

concussionThe term concussion might make you think of someone knocked unconscious while playing sports. But concussions, or temporary disruptions of brain function, can happen with any head injury, often without a loss of consciousness. And while we frequently hear about head injuries in athletes, most concussions occur off the playing field—in car and bicycle accidents, fights, and even minor falls.

How serious is a concussion?

Concussions are common and are often treated lightly. Healthcare providers call concussions mild traumatic brain injury. It is misleading to refer to these injuries as mild. Concussions are usually not life-threatening, but they can have serious long-lasting side effects.

How does a concussion happen?

A concussion can happen from a bump, blow or jolt to the head. The brain floats inside the skull and moves quickly back and forth inside the skull. The brain tissue can be bruised or start bleeding.

What are the common signs?

Sometimes your child may pass out or “black out” for a short time. Right after the concussion happens, your child might feel confused or dazed, dizzy, sick to the stomach, or have a headache. These symptoms usually go away in a few days or weeks. Sometimes the symptoms don’t get better. Following up with a doctor is important.

Should your child see a doctor?

Your child should see a doctor if they have had a concussion. Read more about concussions to learn when you should take your child to the emergency room right away. A doctor can help make sure your child is safe to go back to their regular activities and can watch them for long-lasting side effects.

If your child has had a concussion and they are experiencing difficulty with school, getting along with others or having personality changes, talk to your doctor and the school about getting help.

Additional Reading

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Leave a comment

Immunizations: Fact and Fiction


by Janet Craig, RN, MS, PNP
Clinical Nurse Specialist

Immunizations help prevent many common diseases. These include, but are not limited to: polio, measles, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), rubella (German measles), mumps, tetanus, rotavirus, hepatitis A and hepatitis B.

Many people think it’s better to get the disease naturally rather than be immunized. However, preventing a disease is better than trying to treat it. Why is this? First of all, getting sick is no fun, so why get sick if you can avoid it? How one responds to an illness is quite variable from person to person and cannot be predicted. Prior to the development of immunizations, children died from these “common” illnesses. Even now, many infants who contract pertussis can end up in an intensive care unit on a mechanical ventilator due to breathing problems. Some of these illnesses can leave residual defects that last a lifetime; for example polio can result in varying degrees of muscle weakness or paralysis.

Three Types of Benefits

There are three kinds of benefits to immunizations: personal, community, and future prevention.

  1. Personal benefits include protection from potentially serious diseases, thus avoiding suffering from the actual disease. If you choose not to immunize your child, you are gambling that your child will not be exposed to disease and/or your child will not get seriously ill. Also, the impact can be costly with doctor’s visits, potential hospitalization, and lost days from work carrying for an ill child (or children).
  2. Community benefits include “herd immunity.” This means that immunized children cannot get a disease thus preventing the spread of disease to others. And, if a sick child comes into contact with an immunized child, the disease will not spread. Infants are too young for certain immunizations and some children or members of the community cannot get immunizations for various reasons. (These reasons include–but are not limited to–select medications, organ transplantation, HIV, and certain cancers.) There are also people who have an abnormal immune system and they cannot fight off disease. If they contracted one of these diseases, they would become severely ill or possibly die. Therefore immunized children are helping to protect not only themselves, but their whole community. Unfortunately those who do not get their children immunized present an increased risk to the community.
  3. Future Prevention benefits include decreasing the incidence of disease and preventing diseases from coming back. One thing we know for sure is that once immunizations are stopped, the diseases they prevent return. Even a few cases can trigger a major outbreak.

How Immunizations Work

The immune system helps protect the body from disease or anything else that enters the body that should not be there (other than food). When something foreign enters the body, the immune system recognizes the foreign substance (antigen) as “non-self” (viruses and bacteria). The body develops antibodies against these antigens, thus fighting disease. Afterward, the body will “remember” the foreign antigen; so if your child is exposed to it again their immune system will rapidly produce more antibodies and your child will not get ill. What a great system! 

There’s only one problem … if your child is not immunized, the first time he or she is exposed to a new antigen, your child will get sick. That’s because your child’s body needs time to produce antibodies. But, this can be avoided with immunizations! That’s because they contain the same antigens that cause disease. Immunizations are weakened to the point that they don’t cause disease, but they are strong enough to stimulate the body to produce antibodies (just as if your child was exposed to disease). Therefore your child gets protection without getting sick! What could be better than that?

Common Misconceptions

Many parents have lots of concerns about immunizations. That is okay and you should chat with your pediatrician or primary care provider about these concerns.

Here are some common misconceptions about vaccines:

  • Better hygiene and sanitation will make diseases disappear. Well … yes and no. There is no doubt improved hygiene and sanitation has done a lot to improve health. Nonetheless, many infectious diseases spread no matter how meticulous we are. And these diseases will and do come back when people stop getting immunized.
  • It is better to obtain immunity “naturally” through disease than immunizations. This is false. Immunizations interact with the body the same way natural disease does. And immunizations do not cause disease, thus preventing the repercussions of disease and the disease won’t be given to other people.
  • Immunizations have severe side effects or can be fatal. This is very very rare. The most common side effects are a sore arm or a low temperature. If immunizations are not given, many more people will be seriously injured from the side effects of the preventable disease. For example: polio can cause paralysis; measles can cause a brain infection (encephalopathy) and blindness; tetanus causes painful muscle spasms with inability to breathe normally; diphtheria can cause obstruction of the airway.
  • Immunizations cause autism. This has been proven to be false. There is no evidence that immunizations, more specifically Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR) immunizations, cause autism. The Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics have done extensive investigations of this claim and no link has been found between MMR and autism.
  • Giving more than one immunization at a time will increase the risk of side effects. This is false. This has been studied closely and there is no evidence to support this fear. Everyday your child is exposed to hundreds of foreign substances that can trigger an immune response. Combined immunizations mean fewer shots. And getting immunizations all at once mean fewer visits to the doctor or clinic, saving time and money.

vaccine2So What Should I Do?

Plan on getting your child immunized and ensure their immunizations are up-to-date. Some immunizations require a booster (schedules are referenced below). If you have any concerns, speak with your pediatrician or primary care provider, particularly if you feel your child may have any contraindications to immunizations or may require special precautions. Your pediatrician can explore these concerns with you. Ensure you and your pediatrician keep a current record of all immunizations. Utah utilizes the Utah Statewide Immunization Information System (USIIS). This is a helpful secure, confidential, electronic immunization information system that will ensure an up-to-date record. To learn more visit USIIS.org.

Immunizations not only protect your child and family, they help protect your community and the world at large. Remember, you can pick up diseases at home and from afar. So don’t let children get sick if you don’t have to, and don’t let them pass on diseases to others.


Immunization Schedules

Recommended Immunization Schedule from the AAP

Mexico/USA Binational Resource Tool from the CDC

Further Reading:

From the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

Vaccines and Preventable Disease

List of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

Why are Childhood Vaccines So Important?

Vaccine Safety and Adverse Events

Janet graduated from nursing school in 1976 and completed her Master’s of Science in Nursing at the University of California San Francisco in 1990. She went on to complete her Pediatric Nurse Practitioner course work at UCSF in 1992. She has worked as a PICU Nurse, Educator, PICU Clinical Nurse Specialist, and as a Pediatric Cardiology and Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery Nurse Practitioner. She is currently one of the Pediatric Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialists at Primary Children’s Hospital. She enjoys hiking, skiing, gardening, camping/backpacking and traveling.
Leave a comment

6 Ways to Beat the Back to School Jitters

backtoschoolby Sara Jackson, CSW
Center for Safe & Healthy Families

It’s common for children to feel some nervousness about returning back to school after a carefree summer away from homework, tests, and social challenges. Younger children who are going to school for the first time may worry about getting lost or what school will be like. Older children may worry that they won’t be able to handle the homework load or that they will be made fun of by others. Typically, children have anxiety when they don’t know what to expect or when things are unknown. Here are some tips for helping kids ease back into school and calming their worries:

1) Have a Conversation

  • Ask your child about his/her worries for the first day of school or for school in general.
  • Remind your child that other kids are probably just as nervous.
  • Remind your child that even parents can feel stressed about the first day of school.
  • Try to stay calm and positive; if you’re feeling stressed, your child can pick up on your anxiety.

2) Visit the School

  • Take your child to school to get to know the new building. This is especially important for first-time students who aren’t sure what to expect. (Many schools will have preschool orientations for younger children to come and meet their teacher and see their classroom before school starts.)
  • Make sure your child knows where the bathroom is, how to get to the cafeteria, etc.

3) Practice Going to/from School

  • Whether your child will be walking, taking a bus, or driven by you, practice the route he/she will take so he/she can feel more comfortable with the route. This will ease his/her anxiety about getting lost and familiarize him/her with the surroundings.

4) Get Organized for the School Year

  • Set a schedule for homework, bath time, relaxation time, etc. so your child will know what to expect during the school year.
  • Make sure your child has all the school supplies he/she will need.
  • Organize a tidy space for doing homework.
  • Make lunches the night before so you and your child won’t feel rushed in the morning.
  • Hang a family calendar in a common area where your child can see important upcoming events.

5) Arrange Play Dates

  • Set up play dates with your child to help him/her reconnect with old friends or to make new ones. This will reduce nervousness about having friends in class and will get your child back into the groove of socializing with same-aged peers.

6) Keep an Eye on Anxiety

  • If your child’s anxiety seems like more than back-to-school jitters or if you notice he or she has frequent temper tantrums, nightmares or a strong refusal to go to school consider contacting your child’s teacher or school counselor for additional help and resources.

Returning back to school can be stressful–not only for children, but for parents as well. During this time, it’s important to ask your children about their concerns and reassure them that these worries are normal. Follow the tips above to help children (and yourself!) return back to school with as little stress as possible.

Sara graduated with her Master’s in Social Work from Portland State University, and is a Certified Social Worker. She is currently working towards becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She moved to Salt Lake City and has been enjoying getting to know the Southwest. In her free time, she loves hiking, biking, running, taking her dogs to the park, speaking Spanish, learning about other cultures, cooking, and creating self-serve frozen yogurt creations.
Leave a comment

To the rescue! Primary Children’s staff go above and beyond to help a patient find his stuffed toy

liamThe past two and half years have been tough for 7-year-old Liam Wainwright. He battled and beat cancer, only to have it return last year. “It’s been emotionally more difficult for Liam this time around. The second diagnosis is tough,” said Emily Wainwright, Liam’s mom.

In an effort to ease some of the stresses of being in the hospital again, Liam’s family bought him a stuffed turtle from the hospital gift shop. His new friend, Spots, helped him through some difficult days filled with tests and a lot of medicine.

Several weeks ago Liam was having a particularly tough day, and all he wanted to do was curl up in bed and take a nap with his new friend. But Spots was nowhere to be found. The turtle had mistakenly been left on the bed that had just been changed.

“I was really sad Spots was gone,” said Liam. “I didn’t think I would get him back.”


Wanted sign spotted around the hospital

Our amazing staff went to work searching for Spots. Rhiannon Wentland, a patient tech in the ICS unit, searched the laundry bins. When that wasn’t successful, she suggested Liam make a wanted poster to share with other staff members. She also contacted Environmental Services to see if they could help.

“After seeing the flyer it really touched my heart,” says Randall Uria, Environmental Services Supervisor. “It made me think a few things: What if this was my child? What if my child was heartbroken missing their favorite friend? And what if, by just a small chance, that having this special friend near them would help with his healing process? After all our motto is, ‘The Child First and Always.'”

staffRandall and Arthur Gallegos, a housekeeping team lead, decided to check the laundry room, just in case it was still there. The pair dug through dozens of bags of dirty laundry. “When we found the stuffed animal it was a big relief,” said Arthur. “Anyone that has been back where we keep the linen knows how much the hospital produces and how heavy the bags are. But it was worth it. Anything I can do to help cheer up a child, I will. I took this vow when I got hired.”

“The special feeling we got seeing how happy this child was really touched my soul and was the best reward I could have received,” adds Randall. “To me this is what the job is all about – to lend a helping hand in a child’s recovery in any way possible.”

Both Liam and his mom were surprised and grateful for the efforts of the staff. “I think it was really nice of them,” Liam said.

“I had given up. I told them not to worry about it.” said Emily. “The fact that everyone kept trying was uplifting. It’s just a toy, but it matters.”

Leave a comment

Pool Safety Pointers for Parents

poolsafety3by Sara Jackson, CSW
Center for Safe & Healthy Families

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 260 children under the age of five drown in residential swimming pools and hot tubs each year. The hot temperatures and blazing sun in Utah make home and community pools commonplace. To keep the summer splish-splashy with fun, follow the safety tips below to ensure your child’s safety in and around pools and hot tubs.

  • Never leave children unattended near water, no matter how shallow the water may be or what the child’s swimming ability is.
  • Do not use flotation devices in place of supervision.
  • Children should be within arm’s reach in case of an emergency
  • Remind children to stay away from pool drains, pipes, and other openings to avoid entrapment.
  • Learn CPR and ensure that anyone who cares for your child also knows CPR.
  • Post CPR instructions and emergency contact information near the pool.
  • Keep rescue equipment by the pool.
  • Pools should be completely enclosed with a four-foot or taller fence, including self-locking, self-closing gates with vertical bars.
  • Remove steps to above-ground pools when they are not in use.
  • Keep toys away from the pool when they are not being used. Toys can attract young children who can accidentally fall in to the water.
  • Make sure that pool covers are completely removed before pool use.
  • Encourage safe pool play: no running around the pool, pushing/shoving, or rough horseplay.
  • If a child is missing, the first place you should look is in the pool or hot tub.

Share these safety instructions with family, friends and neighbors and model pool safety for others.

For more pool safety tips, check out these additional resources:

Water Danger Information from Primary Children’s Hospital Child Advocacy Department

Pool Safety Resources from the Consumer Product Safety Commission

Water Safety Tips from the American Red Cross

Sara graduated with her Master’s in Social Work from Portland State University, and is a Certified Social Worker. She is currently working towards becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She moved to Salt Lake City and has been enjoying getting to know the Southwest. In her free time, she loves hiking, biking, running, taking her dogs to the park, speaking Spanish, learning about other cultures, cooking, and creating self-serve frozen yogurt creations.

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 65 other followers

%d bloggers like this: