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Fidget Spinners: a Benefit or Distraction?

Are Fidget Spinners a Benefit or Distraction
A fidget spinner
You may have seen them on the internet or spotted a child playing with one. They are called fidget spinners, and they are the newest craze. These pocket-size devices are held between two fingers and spun at high speed. They are being marketed as a rapid stress management technique (RSMT), an aid to help alleviate the symptoms of ADHD, anxiety, stress, higher-than-average energy levels and extreme sensitivity to an environment.

Some children struggle to sit still or pay attention because they are seeking sensory input by moving, touching or grabbing things. The idea of a fidget spinner is to help the child improve their concentration by filtering out the extra sensory information that is distracting them.

The spinners, along with stress balls, spinner rings and Chinese chiming balls, are offered as a healthy alternative to biting fingernails, picking at cuticles or chewing on the lip. However, many experts, from psychologists to classroom teachers, see them as a distraction because they are being used by children who do not need them or being used inappropriately.

Fortunately, there are other RSMTs available for the classroom that aren’t as distracting to others. These include:
  1. Spreading a thin layer of glue on the hands to be peeled off.
  2. Holding a piece of hook and latch fabric to rub for a soothing effect.
  3. Wrapping a resistance band around the legs of a chair. (This allows for movement/fidgeting, but leaves hands free and allows the individual to focus.)
  4. Using gross motor skills, such as wall push-ups or stretching.
  5. Carrying something a bit heavy – like a stack of books or box of supplies – from one room to another.
  6. Using a stand-up desk or a wiggle cushion.

There are RSMTs that incorporate the senses; the trick is finding the one that works for you and your child. These include:
  • Looking at a favorite photo, surrounding yourself with bright colors, or closing your eyes and picturing a place that is peaceful.
  • Wearing soft clothing, rubbing a pet or wrapping up in a warm blanket
  • Chewing a piece of gum, sipping hot beverage, or eating a healthy crunchy snack.
  • Going for a walk, standing and stretching, or using a device such a stress ball.
  • Listening to your favorite music or nature sounds, such as running water or wind chimes, or humming a tune to yourself.

If rapid stress management techniques are necessary for your child to get through their day and you are concerned about a possible mental health issue, you should consult a care provider to discuss additional treatments.

About the Author

Jenna Johnson, OTR/L is an Occupational Therapist at Cone Health Pediatric Rehabilitation

What to Do (and Not Do) If Bitten By a Snake

There are many different types of snakes in our area. Most of them are not dangerous to humans. Some snakes, however, are venomous, and their bites can be life threatening. These dangerous snakes include the copperhead, rattlesnake, cottonmouth (water moccasin) and coral snake.
What to do if bitten by a snake - Copperhead
Canebrake Rattlesnake
Cotton Mouth
Coral Snake
If you are bitten by a venomous snake, call 911 immediately. It is important to get antivenom drugs into your system as quickly as possible. While you are waiting for help, here are steps you can take:

1.  Get away from the area where the snake is located. The snake may bite again, or there may be another viper in close proximity.
2. Remove clothing or jewelry from the area near the bite before swelling occurs.
3. Remain as calm as possible and position yourself so that the bite area is below heart level.
4. Clean the bite, but do not flush with water. Cover the bite with a clean and dry dressing.

Do not do the following, as these actions can make the wound, or its effects, worse.

  • Do not use a tourniquet. 
  • Do not apply ice. 
  • Do not try to suck the venom from the wound. 
  • Do not create any other incisions. 
  • Do not drink caffeine or alcohol. This will accelerate the absorption of venom by your body. 
  • Do not try to capture the snake. Remember its color and shape so you can describe it to your care provider.

Snakebites contain venom, not poison. This venom damages the lining of the blood vessels and lymphatic system. It makes vessels permeable so that they leak red blood cells. The venom spreads through the lymphatic system. This breakdown has a cascading effect within the body, particularly within the cardiovascular system. If left untreated, it can be fatal.

ABCDE of Skin Cancer

ABCDE of Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the world, and, unfortunately, we tend to accumulate growths and/or spots on our skin from cumulative sun damage as we age. Some of these spots are benign and some are cancerous; therefore, it is important to be able to distinguish which spots may be harmful. The three most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma. Out of those three, basal cell is most common, but the most serious type is melanoma.

Individuals should examine their skin for a new spot, bump or growth that itches, burns, bleeds or changes color or size. Specifically, with melanoma, individuals should use the ABCDE guidelines when examining their bodies:

A – Asymmetry

B – Border Irregularity

C – Color variation and/or change

D – Diameter more than 6 mm (pencil eraser size) and/or change in diameter

E – Evolving – a history of change

New, rapidly growing or changing moles that bleed should be examined by a dermatologist.

If you are concerned about a spot or growth on your skin, it is important to schedule an appointment with your primary care provider or a dermatologist as soon as possible to be professionally examined. Like all cancer, the sooner it’s detected, the better the treatment outcomes.

About the author

David Kowalski, MD is a dermatologist with the Alamance Skin Center.

5 Tips For Safe Stretching [Infographic]

5 Tips for Safe Stretching
We all know that exercise will improve our health and make us feel better. Did you also know you can improve your health by stretching just a few minutes every day. By taking 15 minutes twice a day to stretch, you will receive these five health benefits:
  1. Stretching can give you more energy. Instead of having an afternoon coffee, try taking a few minutes to stretch. You will feel more alert and ready to finish your day strong.
  2. Stretching can ease anxiety. Contracted muscles make us feel tense and can lead to anxiety. Stretching releases endorphins, which will promote relaxation. Stretching before bed also promotes better sleep.
  3. Stretching improves blood circulation. Improved circulation helps muscles and organs work better. Better circulation also helps the heart work more efficiently. 
  4. Stretching will soothe sore muscles. When you are feeling sore at the end of a day, stretching will help ease pain in your muscles and joints. As mentioned before, stretching improves blood circulation which allows nutrients to reach muscles and joints faster to promote healing. 
  5. Stretching helps avoid injuries. Stretching improves balance and enhances muscle coordination, both of which can help prevent tripping or falling. Stretching also increases flexibility, which will reduce the chance of injury during a workout.
The infographic below provides tips to help you stretch the right way to avoid injury and maximize the health benefits.

About the Author

Michele Lerch, BS, CPT is a Health and Fitness Specialist at the Cone Health Alamance Regional Medical Center Lifestyle Center.

In Pursuit of Perfection: Kids and Body Image

Kids and body image
Body image is a multidimensional construct or idea that includes how we perceive, think, feel and act toward our bodies. Understanding how to cultivate a positive body image is an important skill to help you be successful, and it’s very important as parents to help your children to develop those same skills from an early age. Body image can range from health to unhealthy, changing with time and influencing their behavior. A negative body image can affect your self-worth and your perceived value, encouraging a person to participate in unhealthy or destructive behaviors, such as over-exercising, not exercising at all, developing an unhealthy relationship with food, discouraging yourself from something you want or creating relationship problems with others.

There are many different things that can influence our body image, including age, race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, individual experiences and differences in our brains and the way we experience our bodies. Puberty and adolescence can be an especially difficult time for teenagers emotionally, socially and psychologically, and it can be tempting to make body comparisons during this time. Try to remind your children that everyone develops and grows differently, physically and otherwise. The media can also impact our body image, which is why it’s important to be “media literate,” by being aware of the practices used to perfect the images we see, and develop strategies to counteract the desire to compare your body to the most often altered images in magazines.

Fortunately, there are steps parents can take to avoid issues with body image in their children and teens. As a start, parents should be mindful of how they talk about their own bodies around their children, and model positive self-statements and behaviors. Other ways to encourage positive body images in your children are:

  • Stop comparisons, it’s lose-lose
  • When you compare yourself to be “less” than someone else, you feel bad.
  • When you compare yourself to be “more” than someone else, that momentary ego boost might fade into feeling judgmental and isolated from that person.
  • Challenge hurtful thoughts
  • Ask yourself, is what I’m thinking the objective truth or a judgment Would I say the same thing to my best friend?
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Use stickies! Put sticky notes on the mirror in the bathroom to remind you everyday.
  • Everyday, remind yourself of 3 things that you like about your body or 3 amazing things your body can do.

If parents notice developing body image issues in their children or teens, it is important to seek professional help as well. Early intervention and treatment is key, and Cone Health has an exceptional network of behavioral health specialists, dieticians, primary care physicians and other related healthcare providers whom are dedicated to providing proper treatment to individuals in the community dealing with body image issues.

About the Author

Lauren R. Preston, MSW, LCSWA is a Behavioral Health Clinician at the Cone Health Center for Children

5 Ways Minorities Can Avoid Falling Victim to Cardiovascular Disease

5 Ways Minorities Can Avoid Falling Victim to Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of Americans, and it impacts a disproportionately high number of minorities. There are many factors that contribute to this disparity including culture, income, education, genetics, access to care and communication barriers.

According to the American Heart Association:
  • African -Americans have a 33 percent higher death rate from cardiovascular disease than any other group.
  • African -Americans are twice as likely to have a stroke than Caucasians.
  • Native Americans are much more likely to die early from heart disease. 36 percent will die of heart disease before the age of 65 as opposed to 17 percent of the overall U.S. population.
  • African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Native Americans and Alaskan Natives have a much higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes than Caucasians.
  • African-American and Mexican-American women have a much higher rate of obesity, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, than Caucasian women.

With the proper diet and exercise, everyone, regardless of ethnicity, can reduce their risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Here’s how:

  1. Reduce bad foods. Choose foods that have no or low levels of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium. Saturated and trans fats are in fatty beef, pork, poultry with skin, lard, butter and dairy products made with whole milk. Sodium comes from the amount of salt in your food.
  2. Eat heart-healthy foods such as fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains, fish, nuts and seeds. Eat the leanest cuts of meat you can find or have meals without meat. Drink beverages without added sugar.
  3. Stay physicallyactive. Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as a brisk walk, or 75 minutes of intense physical activity, such as jogging or running, every week.
  4. Strengthen yourmuscles. Do muscle strengthening exercises that work all major muscle groups at least two days a week. This includes back muscles, legs, hips, chest, shoulders and arms.
  5. Stop smoking and reduce alcohol intake.

Parents can also help reduce the risk for their children by encouraging 60 minutes of activity each day.

It is important to learn the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke. Receiving treatment as quickly as possible greatly increases chances for positive outcomes.

About the Author

Dr. Tiffany Randolph
Tiffany Randolph, MD is a cardiologist at Cone Health Medical Group HeartCare at Church Street