Friday, August 31, 2012

New Chicken Soup for the Soul book for parents of children with Autism or Asperger's is seeking contributions.

If you are the parent of a child, from newborn to college age, with autism or Asperger's, we invite you to share your story about raising your child - the ups and downs, the effect on your family and marriage, your child's special attributes and talents, and the lighter moments too. These stories will provide advice, comfort and insight to other parents in the same situation.

Send only non-fiction stories and poems written in the first person of no more than 1,200 words. These must be your personal stories - things that happened to you or someone you were close to. You may use a "pen name" on your story. Your story should not have been previously published by Chicken Soup for the Soul or other major publications.

Here are some of the suggested topics:

How you first recognized the symptoms
Meeting the challenges of everyday life
Academic struggles or brilliance
Good and bad experiences with school administrations
Appreciating your child for exactly who he/she is
Helping your child build a social life
Successful treatments - what has worked for you
Helping siblings and family members cope
The effect on your marriage and personal relationships
The importance of taking time for yourself
The importance of a support system
The lighter side
The positive side - benefits of autism or Asperger's

If your story is chosen, you will be a published author and your bio will be printed in the book if you so choose. You will also receive a check for $200 and 10 free copies of your book, worth more than $100. You will retain the copyright for your story and you will retain the right to resell it.

Select the Submit Your Story link on the left tool bar and follow the directions.

DEADLINE IS September 30th.
The plan is to publish the book on April 2, 2013, for Autism Awareness Month.

RSV Season Is Approaching!

Now that school is back in session and the winter months are ahead of us, it is important for parents of young children and babies to be informed about a potentially deadly virus called Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). This virus is spread much like the common cold through droplets from sneezing or coughing, on surfaces such as countertops and doorknobs and through contact with hands or clothes of an infected individual. It is spread very easily through schools and day care centers and older children can bring the virus home and infected younger siblings.
Adults can get RSV and the symptoms are very much like the common cold with stuffy/runny nose, coughing, sore throat, fever and malaise. However this virus can be deadly to infants and younger children causing severe respiratory symptoms and can impair the immune system leading to more serious illnesses such as bronchiolitis or pneumonia.

Your Pediatrician can diagnose your child by doing a general physical examination and they may do a nasal wash to test for the virus. This test is easily done by collecting nasal secretions with a cotton swab or bulb syringe and is tolerated well. Since this is a virus, the treatment is generally focused on the symptoms such as medications for cough, congestion or fever. Usually the illness only lasts about a week for children with healthy immune systems. Children who are medically fragile or have underlying lung, heart or immune disease may have a longer and more aggressive course of treatment and may require hospitalization.
Prevention is key! Good hand washing for all family members is the number one way to stop the spread of this disease. Teach younger children how to properly wash their hands or use alcohol based hand sanitizer. Limit visitors to infants during the most dangerous months and make sure that everyone who visits washes their hands or uses alcohol based hand sanitizer. Do not let actively ill people handle or be around infants.

There is an injection called Synagis that parents may opt to give high risk infants during the winter months. This is not a vaccine but an injection of antibodies to help prevent serious RSV disease in babies. Synagis is only approved for high risk babies meaning there is already an underlying reason RSV would be more severe in your child such as prematurity. Ask you Pediatrician if your child is a candidate for Synagis injections this winter.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What Does It Mean When My Child Has Been Added to the Home Health Therapy Wait List?

One common question asked is “how long is the waitlist?”
The Home health therapy wait list isn’t a traditional wait list. It is a wait list that is based on the following factors:
·         Patient availability
·         Therapist availability
·         Patient's address where they will be treated
·         Therapist treatment area
Our waitlists are verified periodically to ensure up to date information. If your child is on our wait list and you move or your child’s availability changes, please contact our office so we may update the information. If your child will be going to daycare and you would like services at the daycare, please give us that information as well.
When updating and verifying the wait lists we need the service address, patient availability during the school months, and patient availability during the summer months.
As you can see this information is very important for our therapists. The therapists will review the waitlists when they need to add children to their caseloads. They typically will need to add children to their caseloads when patients have met goals, moved out of our service area, or if a patient changed their availability. We also use the wait list when a new therapist comes on board and we build a new caseload for him/her.
Melissa Torres
Client Services Manager

Thursday, August 23, 2012

FDA Gives Green Light for Groundbreaking Clinical Trial

Autism and Cord Blood Stem Cells: FDA Gives Green Light for Groundbreaking Clinical Trial

SACRAMENTO, CA – Sutter Neuroscience Institute, a recognized Center of Excellence, and CBR (Cord Blood Registry), the world’s largest stem cell bank, are launching the first FDA- approved clinical trial to assess the use of a child’s own cord blood stem cells to treat select patients with autism. This first-of-its-kind placebo controlled study will evaluate the ability of an infusion of cord blood stem cells to help improve language and behavior. The study is in conjunction with the Sutter Institute for Medical Research.

Autism Infographic

Autism Infographic

Learn how cord blood stem cells may help the symptoms of autism.
Click to view larger

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism spectrum disorders impact one in 88 children in the US, and one in 54 boys.1 The condition is thought to have multiple risk factors including genetic, environmental and immunological components.
"This is the start of a new age of research in stem cell therapies for chronic diseases such as autism, and a natural step to determine whether patients receive some benefit from an infusion of their own cord blood stem cells," said Michael Chez, M.D., director of Pediatric Neurology with the Sutter Neuroscience and principal study investigator. "I will focus on a select portion of children diagnosed with autism who have no obvious cause for the condition, such as known genetic syndromes or brain injury."
The study will enroll 30 children between the ages of two and seven, with a diagnosis of autism who meet the inclusion criteria for the study. Enrolled participants will receive two infusions—one of the child’s own cord blood stem cells and one of a placebo—over the course of 13 months. Both the participants and the lead investigators will be blinded from knowing the content of each infusion. To ensure the highest quality and consistency in cord blood stem cell processing, storage and release for infusion, CBR is the only family stem cell bank providing units from clients for the study.
For information on this study, visit

Study Rationale
A newborn’s umbilical cord blood contains a unique population of stem cells that have been used for more than 20 years in medical practice to treat certain cancers, blood diseases and immune disorders. When patients undergo a stem cell transplant for these conditions, the stem cells effectively rebuild the blood and immune systems.
"A focus of my research has been the complex relationship between a child’s immune system and central nervous system. We have evidence to suggest that certain children with autism have dysfunctional immune systems that may be damaging or delaying the development of the nervous system," continued Dr. Chez. "Cord blood stem cells may offer ways to modulate or repair the immune systems of these patients which would also improve language and some behavior in children who have no obvious reason to have become autistic. The study is similar to other FDA-approved clinical trials looking at cord blood stem cells as a therapy for cerebral palsy."
"It’s exciting to partner with thought-leading medical researchers and clinicians, like Dr. Chez, who are pursuing a scientifically-sound approach in evaluating new therapeutic uses for cord blood stem cells for conditions that currently have no cures," said Heather Brown, vice president of scientific & medical affairs at CBR. "Families who made the decision to bank their stem cells to cover the unknowns and what ifs in life are gaining access to this and other important clinical trials while playing an important role in the advancement of science."
The co-investigator of the study is Michael Carroll, M.D., medical director of the Blood and Marrow Transplantation and Hematological Malignancies Program at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento.
"There is a vast amount of unchartered territory when it comes to how stem cell therapies may help patients living with these conditions," said Dr. Carroll. "I’ve seen how stem cell therapy has changed my field of medicine and how I care for my blood cancer patients. I am eager to see how our work can open new doors for patients and families dealing with autism."
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Data and Statistics,, accessed May 2012

About Sutter Neuroscience Institute: Leading-Edge Diagnosis and Treatment
Sutter Neuroscience Institute (SNI) has multidisciplinary teams of nationally recognized specialists and highly trained nurses and technicians provide skilled diagnosis and advanced treatment of complex conditions of the brain, spine and central nervous system. Infants through adults also receive the benefit of today's most advanced technology and access to clinical trials of tomorrow's most promising developments. The Institute, which is headquartered at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, is part of the Sutter Medical Network, which includes many of California’s top-performing, highest quality physician organizations as measured annually by the Integrated Healthcare Association. Sutter-affiliated hospitals are regional leaders in cardiac care, women’s and children’s services, cancer care, orthopedics and advanced patient safety technology. For more information about the not-for-profit Sutter Health network, please visit:
CBR has also helped more clients use their cord blood stem cells in treatments than any other family bank. Our research and development efforts are focused on helping leading clinical researchers advance regenerative medicine that may help families in the future. For more information, visit

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What is the Difference Between Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy?

Many people often ask the question, “What is the difference between Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy?”  Sometimes the lines between the two get crossed and become confusing to understand.  Occupational therapists (OT) and physical therapists (PT) both assist patients in regaining the ability to perform everyday functions to the best of their ability, independently and safely.  However, while OTs and PTs work together in various settings and often overlap, they also practice distinctly different therapy practices.  Occupational therapy takes on more of a holistic approach when treating patients by including physical, developmental, mental and emotional conditions, and uses these in conjunction in various treatments in order to develop, recover or maintain the occupation of living for their patients.  Occupational therapists focus on the "occupations" of self-care, work, and play/leisure activities to increase independence in daily living, enhance development, and prevent disability.   Occupational therapists work to restore, improve or compensate for medical conditions, injuries, or illnesses.  Areas of decreased function in things such as: eating, dressing, cognition, behavioral issues, bathing, etc. are the focus.

Physical therapy focuses on regaining movement or improving physical movement that has been or was lost due to an injury, illness or medical condition.  A physical therapist seeks to identify and maximize the quality of life through physical movement by focusing on prevention, intervention, and rehabilitation of the musculoskeletal system so that the body may function properly.  Physical therapists provide specific exercises, stretches and techniques and use specialized equipment to address problems in areas of decreased physical function.  Working with a physical therapist can target specific areas of muscle weakness and decreased muscle endurance.  They help to manage and relieve stress related to muscle pain due to injury or illness.  Below lists just some of the many examples of things that each discipline focuses on.

Occupational Therapy:
·        Fine-motor:
o   Manipulation of small items and handwriting.
·        Sensory integration:
o    Display of hyperactivity, anxiousness, clumsiness or increased sensitivity to various types of touch, oral stimulation, and various types of texture.
·        Visual Motor skills
·        Cognition
·        Attention Skills
·        Self-Care
·        ROM
·        Pain Management
·        Balance/Coordination
·        Oral Motor Control

Physical Therapy:
·        Balance/Coordination
·        Gross Motor Skills/Ambulation (walking, running, hopping, skipping, etc.)
·        Muscle Tone and Weakness
·        ROM
·        Pain Management
·        Postural Control
·        Orthopedics
·        Sports Injuries
·        Postoperative Surgeries

As you can see, although they are different in many ways each discipline still overlaps in some areas of focus and works as a co-treating team to increase achievement in patient goals.  Depending on the patient’s circumstances the patient may require only one of these disciplines or both and may also determine whether the patient can be seen as a co-treat or not.  I hope this article cleared up any misunderstandings about the two therapies you may have had.
Lauren Halbert, Student OTA
Lonestar College-Kingwood

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Private Insurance-Know Your Benefits!

Insurance can be very confusing, EOB, OOP, CoIns, Stop Loss, AHHHHH!!!!

The best way to get the most out of your private insurance coverage is to know and understand a few bits.

Know your visit limits for therapy.
This is how many visits insurance will cover in one year. If you do not have a secondary insurance like Medicaid, then it is good to know if your child only has 60 visits of physical therapy for the year. Knowing this number can help you work with your therapist so that your child will not have to take a long break at the end of each year when visits run out. If you have visits 2 times per week, come August you would run out of your 60 visits. 

Look for your EOB.
An EOB, or an Explanation of Benefits, should be mailed to you from your insurance provider before you get a bill from a hospital or doctor for a surgery or hospital stay or a test like an MRI or sleep study or EKG, etc.

The EOB will state something like "This is not a bill". This is a paper that simply tells you what was billed to your insurance, how much your insurance paid or discounted and how much you have to pay or "patient responsibility"

If you get a bill for more than what the EOB states you owe, then you need to call the billing department as you only owe what your insurance has agreed on with the hospital.

If you get a bill but have not seen an EOB, call your insurance and make sure that the hospital billed your insurance correctly. Sometimes a hospital may bill you the total amount if they did not get paid from the insurance but maybe the claim got misplaced or the fax machine did not work that day. Don't pay more than you have to.

The more you know and understand about your insurance benefits and coverage, the more you can benefit from your insurance. If you have questions, call your insurance provider and ask.

Christine Grover, PT, MS

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Important Information About West Nile Virus

Houston recently reported its 4th confirmed case of West Nile Virus, so we'd like to take this opportunity to share important information about the disease and how you can protect yourself!  This information was obtained from the Houston Health Department, where you can also find more information about West Nile Virus and where the reported cases have been in Houston.  To access the Houston Health Department on the internet, go to

Protecting Yourself from the West Nile Virus

West Nile virus infection in severe cases can develop into encephalitis, inflammation of the brain, or meningitis, inflammation of the membrane surrounding the brain. However, most people infected with the virus experience mild illness characterized by flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, body aches and occasionally skin rash and swollen lymph glands.  Severe infections can cause high fever, headache, stiff neck disorientation coma, tremors muscle weakness and paralysis. Symptoms usually develop three to 15 days after infection with the virus.
Although the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are at highest risk of severe illness, the virus poses a risk to all residents. The Houston Department of Health and Human Services recommends that residents take precautions to prevent mosquito bites:
Protect Yourself
·         Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, especially from dusk to dawn.
·         Use insect repellent that contains DEET.  Children should use insect repellents that contain less than 10 percent DEET.  Do not apply DEET on babies.  Adults should use insect repellents that contain more than 10 percent DEET.
Keep the storm sewers clean to reduce mosquito breeding
·         Sweep up lawn clippings, leaves and limbs from sidewalks, driveways, curbs and gutters.
·         Don’t let lawn water or car washing water enter the street.
·         Pick up litter and other debris from your yard and the street.
Keep the mosquitoes out of your house
·         Keep doors and windows closed.
·         Seal cracks and gaps in the house
·         If mosquitoes are in the house, use flying insect spray, following label instructions.
Other actions to prevent mosquito breeding
·         Empty, remove or dispose of anything in the yard that can hold water: flower pot saucers, cans, toys, litter, rain barrels, plastic sheeting, etc.
·         Pet water bowls and birdbaths should be emptied and refilled at least twice a week.
·         Keep the rain gutters on your house clean and properly draining.
·         Repair household water leaks, move air conditioner drain hose frequently.
·         Report water and sewer main leaks and breaks to 311

Friday, August 3, 2012

Back to School Means Vaccination Time!

Back to school time means new clothes, new shoes, school supplies and a regular check up with your Pediatrician. Often this means booster shots. While children may not look forward to this part of back to school time, it is essential to good health and could be life saving. Vaccines save many lives and help stop the spread of disease which could be devastating in a close environment such as a school setting. Young children and children with any type of immunosuppression or chronic diseases are especially vulnerable to these diseases and they can have life-long, crippling affects.
Many parents worry about the side effects of immunizations on their children. In the last few years, there have been many celebrities speaking out about immunizations. It is important for parents to know that the most common side effects of immunizations are low grade fever and pain or soreness at the site of the injection (usually the arm or leg). Some children may experience cold or flu-like symptoms after receiving immunizations but this is usually very mild and only lasts a few days.
ü  Kindergarten brings immunizations for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox. These are combination vaccinations so the child will receive a total of four injections.
ü  Middle school age children receive a tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis booster as well as a meningococcal vaccine. Female children may also receive the Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine per parental preference. This is not a required vaccine but is recommended for females over the age of 11. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. 
ü  High school age children receive a meningococcal booster at or around age 16.
If your child missed any scheduled vaccines, they can be caught up safely according to recommendations by your Physician. There are also optional vaccinations for diseases such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A and influenza. You can discuss the need for these vaccinations and all concerns or questions about immunizations with your child’s Physician.
More information about vaccines and a downloadable immunization schedule are available at :