Archive for: April 2013

Healthy joints for a lifetime

Address juvenile arthritis early

by John Frederick Wolfe, M.D.

Apr2013-WolfeAs children grow, it is important to make sure that they maintain healthy bones, healthy joints and healthy muscles. Sometimes, however, arthritis, acute or chronic inflammation of a joint, can develop in a child and break this routine of healthy development. It is important to understand that arthritis does affect children. It is a disease that can start as early as age 1 or at any time throughout the teenage years. It can either start quietly as aches and pains or aggressively as lots of red, warm, swollen and tender joints. Sometimes juvenile arthritis can present as an unclear fever, sometimes as an intermittent rash, so the face of arthritis is multi-faceted.

Some children affected by the disease won’t complain about joint pain, because they do not like to be different from other kids. They may try to hide the way a joint feels. Other children may not be able to articulate the exact location of pain; therefore, parents should learn to recognize abnormalities in the way their children walk, move and act.

 

“Healthy joints, healthy bones, healthy muscles are lifetime treasures.”

 

Since arthritis is worse in the mornings and the late evenings, when children are most likely to be at home, it is the parents who may notice the first signs and symptoms of the disease. Some hints that indicate something is not right with a child’s joints are: stiffness in the morning when they first start their day, walking with a limp or using their hands differently. If you notice the presence of these symptoms in your child, the first step is to make an appointment with a family doctor for an evaluation. If the primary care doctor finds abnormalities in the blood or during your child’s exam, then the next step is to see a joint specialist, a rheumatologist. Early diagnosis and treatment of juvenile arthritis makes a difference by helping prevent damage to joints in the early stage of the disease. This allows children to achieve their potential of reaching adulthood without long term deformities and disabilities.

There are many new treatments involving a variety of drugs that are approved for children. They range from aspirin to disease-modifying drugs (some names to look for are Azulfidine, Hydroxychloroquine, and Methotrexate) and on to the new biological injections (such as Etanercept and Abatacept). These drugs, combined with physical therapy and pacing of one’s lifestyle while the disease is active, can make a positive difference for a long term prognosis, so that children can move forward into their teenage and young adult years in a more healthy way.

Healthy joints, healthy bones, healthy muscles are lifetime treasures. They should be maintained to make them strong and help them grow. Juvenile arthritis doesn’t have to break this routine of healthy living. Paying attention to symptoms, testing for the disease, and developing an effective treatment plan can help preserve these treasures for a lifetime.

 

WolfeDr. John Frederick Wolfe, a North Carolina native, received his undergraduate degree from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and graduated with an MD degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  His internship and residency was in Internal Medicine at the University of Missouri in Columbia, as was his fellowship in Rheumatology.  He was on the faculty of the University of Missouri until he and Dr. Donna M. Winn founded the practice of Rheumatology Consultants, PLLC in 1979.  He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Improve your child’s health today – for a healthier tomorrow

By Kindall Aaron

 

In the U.S., one in three children is considered overweight or obese. Here in Tennessee, 39 percent of children are obese—ranking our state third in the nation for rates of pediatric obesity. Though the numbers are shocking, the consequences of childhood obesity are even worse. Children who are obese in their preschool years are more likely to be obese in adolescence and adulthood, and they have a tendency to develop diabetes, hypertension, asthma and sleep apnea.

But what does being obese really mean? For children ages 2 to 19, obesity is measured by calculating one’s body mass index (BMI). If your child’s BMI is at or above the 95th percentile for his age group, then your child is considered obese. A BMI can be calculated easily using height, weight, gender and birthday.

Obesity and excessive weight can be the result of unhealthy eating, lack of exercise or genetic factors. It dramatically increases the risk of serious diseases, low self-esteem and substance abuse. Cardiovascular risks in childhood—like high blood pressure and diabetes—can lead to serious medical problems like heart disease, heart failure and stroke as adults. Preventing or treating obesity in children may reduce the risk of these diseases and outcomes.

 

Though the road to a healthier lifestyle can seem scary or out of reach, improving your child’s habits today could save money and his life in the long run.

 

The Knoxville Area Coalition on Childhood Obesity (KACCO) has teamed with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, its Healthy Ways Clinic and the local community to combat East Tennessee’s high levels of childhood obesity. The coalition was created by Children’s Hospital in 2008. Currently, the coalition’s leaders meet with state representatives to gain support for daily physical activity in school, fresh food options and community gardens. It also supports health-oriented community events and programs, increases awareness about childhood obesity and works with families and schools.

Though the road to a healthier lifestyle can seem scary or out of reach, improving your child’s habits today could save money and his life in the long run. Children’s Hospital and the KACCO recommend these simple tips for improving your child’s health:

  • Don’t use sweets or treats to reward your child for good behavior or to stop a behavior.
  • Steer your child toward healthier choices by only keeping healthy snacks at home.
  • Encourage your child to be active every day through organized sports or activities like walking and playing in the yard. Besides decreasing the risk for obesity, daily physical activity can improve grades, cognitive skills, concentration and attention.
  • Let your child be involved in making good food choices, such as packing lunch and preparing dinner.
  • Cut down on television, computer, phone and video game time and discourage watching television during dinner.
  • Model a healthy lifestyle for your child by eating well, exercising regularly and incorporating healthy habits into your family’s daily life.
  • If you think your child may be overweight or obese, call your pediatrician.

 

 

Kindall-AaronKindall Aaron is the Coordinator of the Knoxville Area Coalition on Childhood Obesity through East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. The coalition focuses on reducing the incidence of childhood obesity. Visit www.yeah4kids.org or www.etch.com for more information.

Can our schools promote healthy minds, bodies, and spirits?

By Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.

 

Apr2013-MSmithThe word “health” derives from an Old English word that meant “being whole or sound” and was used in Middle English to mean “prosperity, happiness, and welfare.” To be “healthy” should mean more than to just be “well”; a healthy person has an approach to life and the life of others that strives for this prosperity and happiness.

Can our schools promote healthy minds, bodies, and spirits? Do any educational standards, Common Core included, provide any support for curriculum geared to “healthy” approaches to life? While not immediately obvious, I believe that some of the basic assumptions of the Common Core Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, and Language standards do advocate a broad and thoughtful approach to education and thus a broader sense of the word “healthy.” These standards suggest that students who are college and career ready have developed four characteristics.

Students demonstrate independence:  “They become self-directed learners, effectively seeking out and using resources to assist them, including teachers, peers, and print and digital reference materials.” Self-directed learning is a characteristic valued by teachers and employers. Individuals who can seek out help when confronted with problems—whether personal, academic, or professional—display an ability to grow and change in new circumstances.

Students build strong content knowledge:  “They read purposefully and listen attentively to gain both general knowledge and discipline-specific expertise.” Success at work is often related to acquiring the expertise needed to perform a job well. General life satisfaction is often correlated with acquiring specific habits and hobbies that enrich life. Both can contribute to a healthy lifestyle that enjoys both work and play.

 

“…a healthy person has an approach to life and the life of others that strives for …prosperity and happiness.”

 

Students comprehend as well as critique:  “They are engaged and open-minded—but discerning—readers and listeners. They work diligently to understand precisely what an author or speaker is saying, but they also question an author’s or speaker’s assumptions and premises and assess the veracity of claims and the soundness of reasoning.” An individual must be able to evaluate all the claims about “healthiness” that float around in our society. What foods should be avoided? How much exercise is needed? What types of activities help with aging? These and many other issues routinely make the headlines of newspapers and magazines. Which ones are “correct”? Which should be followed?

Students come to understand other perspective and cultures:  “They appreciate that the twenty-first-century classroom and workplace are settings in which people from often widely divergent cultures and who represent diverse experiences and perspectives must learn and work together. Students actively seek to understand other perspectives and cultures through reading and listening, and they are able to communicate effectively with people of varied backgrounds.” This characteristic is the most difficult but the most important for our revised conception of “healthy.”

A “healthy” person comes to understand and respect others, whether those others are better off or worse off or from different cultures or the same culture. Every person must live and work amidst others and his or her long-term “health” is dependent on the health of the society in which they live. Schools do not need to worry about courses in “healthiness.” The general philosophy of the Common Core, if implemented, should help students achieve a lifelong respect for themselves and others that will contribute to healthy minds, bodies, and spirits.

 

Michael K. Smith, Ph.D., is owner of TESTPREP EXPERTS (www.testprepexperts.com ) which prepares students for standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT. He is also a consultant to Discovery Education Assessment. He can reached at mike@testprepexperts.com.

Dear Knox County School’s Families

By Dr. Jim McIntyre, Superintendent of Knox County Schools

Dear Knox County Schools’ Families,

“Healthy living” is the focus for this month, and I’m pleased to report that the Knox County Schools works very hard to use our taxpayer resources wisely in helping to ensure a safe, healthy and inviting learning environment for students across the district.

The educational investments we have made the past few years to facilitate instructional improvement are paying clear dividends for our students and community.  By virtually every quantifiable indicator of student learning and success, our children are making strong academic progress in the Knox County Schools.  Student achievement outcomes on TCAP assessments, student academic growth, high school graduation rates, and our composite ACT score have all shown positive results in 2011-2012. Read more →

The wisdom behind wisdom teeth: part 1

Sometimes taking them out is a wise choice

By Jason Kennedy, D.M.D.

 

Wisdom teeth got their name starting back in the 17th Century, because they generally appear much later in life than a person’s other teeth. Their appearance coincided with a person entering adulthood, and, thus, becoming more “wise.” While one can debate the old adage, “With age comes wisdom,” there is no doubt that sometimes it is best to remove wisdom teeth, before they erupt, cause damage to other teeth and compromise a person’s health. Here are some common questions about wisdom teeth and their removal: Read more →