Tag Archives: health

The ABCs of AT: A Primer on Assistive Technology

ssistive technology (AT) can be loosely defined as the use of equipment to facilitate independence in a person with a disability.

Both children and adults can benefit from the many types of assistive technology.

Children’s needs can differ greatly from adults due to the nature of their disability and their educational needs.

Here’s what you need to know about high and low tech assistive technology:

• Low Tech AT is usually less invasive and easy to incorporate. Examples include adaptive pencil grips, large print text, line guides for reading, or a picture scheduling system for a child that has a hard time understanding text or numbers. While these changes are simple, they can make a big difference in independence for everyday tasks such as handwriting and reading.

• High Tech AT refers to complex devices that have a power source. For children, high tech devices are often used for communication impairments and include adaptive hardware or software to access a computer, equipment to participate in leisure tasks, and home automation devices.

• Computer Technology: AT for the computer includes adaptations to hardware or software. Keyboards can be made larger or smaller and keyboard letter keys can be given alternate layouts. A mouse can be adapted to a joystick or trackball, or made to be controlled by the head or eyes. On-screen keyboards, voice to text or text to voice software, and word prediction software can all help to make communication easier.

• Alternative and Augmentative Communication: These are devices that enhance or replace speech when a child is unable to make his or her needs known. Devices like iPads can be used as children’s communication tools with appropriate applications. There are also “dedicated” devices; these are meant for communication only but have accessibility built in for use with head movement or eye gaze.

• Home Automation: With the advancement of technology, it’s much easier for a child with a disability to control his or her environment, including lights, TV remote, fan, door locks, etc. With the use of a simple remote, smart phone, or tablet, a child can access all of the electronics at home independently.

The use of assistive technology can greatly improve the life of a child or adult with a disability or mixed abilities, and the inclusion of accessibility options in mainstream technology makes access of the necessary easier for a person with an AT need.

Want to learn more? Join the experts from Rusk Rehabilitation at NYU Langone Medical Center for a discussion on the use of assistive technology to enhance independence of children outside the classroom:

Date/Time: Thursday, February 25 at 5pm
Location: Ambulatory Care Center, 240 East 38th St., 11th Floor Conference Room

To RSVP for this free lecture, click here.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Holly Cohen, OTR/L, ATP, SCEM, CDRS is the Program Manager of Assistive Technology and Driving Rehabilitation at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Rusk Rehabilitation.

New Year’s Nutrition: Healthy Resolutions for the Whole Family

While the talk of New Year’s resolutions and self-improvement can be overwhelming this time of year, it’s still a great time to help children make goals toward healthy behaviors. However, when talking to your children about nutrition and health resolutions, take the focus off of food itself and instead focus on health, and not appearance. Not only will this help to foster a positive body image, but it will also help to assure the changes you’re making will be sustainable throughout your children’s lives. Here are some ideas for great, healthy family goals to consider for the upcoming year:

Plan more family meals during the week. Studies show that when families eat meals together, kids have higher self-esteem, perform better in school, and have better eating habits than families who don’t. Family meal times are great opportunities to unwind and relax with each other, as well as a time to try new foods together. You can talk about the taste, textures, and smells of new foods, and use it as a time to discuss where different foods come from. Family meals don’t always have to be dinner if it’s too difficult to coordinate. Aim for breakfast or even a weekend lunch if that’s more doable for your family.

Involve children in meal planning and preparation. Children take enormous pride in helping in the kitchen, and are much more willing to try new foods if they’ve had a hand in preparing them. Use this to your advantage and have them pick out one new fruit or vegetable to try each week at the grocery store. Then think of fun and delicious ways to prepare it together!

happy family with two kids making dinner at home
Stop using food as a reward, punishment, or bribe.
While it may seem like a harmless and surefire way to get your kids to behave, you could be doing more harm than good in the long run. By using one food as a reward for eating another, you may be setting kids up for future emotional eating, and you’re interfering with your child’s natural hunger cues by encouraging them to eat when they’re not hungry in order to reward themselves.

Encourage hydration, but cut down on sugary drinks. Kids can often confuse hunger and thirst. By assuring your children are adequately hydrated, you can be sure that when they say they’re hungry, they really do need a healthy snack or meal. Remember that juice, soda, sports drinks, sweetened ice tea, and lemonade all contain sugar, and even “diet” versions may not help with weight loss or be good for kids’ growing bodies. Pick out a special water bottle for your child featuring his or her favorite character or color; fill it with water, freshly brewed decaf or herbal iced tea, or seltzer with a splash of 100% juice to keep kids hydrated.

Encourage mindfulness. Remind kids to slow down when eating meals—it should take at least 20 minutes to finish. Turn off the TV and computers during meals and put phones away. Encourage children to listen to their bodies when eating and stop eating when they are full, instead of stopping when their plates are clean.

Most importantly, set a good example. Remember, you’re the best role model for your family. If your children see you enjoying healthy foods and having a good relationship with food, they’ll be more likely to have one as well, without you even saying a word!

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Amanda Buthmann, MS, RDN, is a senior registered dietician and wellness coordinator at NYU Langone Medical Center.

NYU Langone Medical Center Wishes You a Happy & Healthy Thanksgiving

Nurse (unknown) playing games with Logan Grostas (consent with Carin) in hospital bed

The holidays are a wonderful time to relax, eat delicious food, and enjoy the company of family and friends, but the season can also bring additional stresses and safety hazards for your child. While we hope you have a safe and stress-free Thanksgiving and holiday season, we’d like to remind you about the resources that are available in the New York City area if you need them.

• Our family-focused KiDS Emergency Department, which is part of the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Emergency Services in New York City, is available for sudden illness or injury, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Along with a dedicated team of pediatric emergency medicine specialists, the KiDS Emergency Department offers a family-friendly waiting area with age-appropriate toys and activities for children, as well as child life specialists on hand to prepare and distract your child during treatment. The KiDS Emergency Department is located at 570 First Avenue in New York, New York.

• In addition, if you live in Brooklyn and the surrounding areas, the NYU Langone Cobble Hill Emergency Department, which also serves Sunset Park, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for walk-in visits and ambulances. A team of board certified doctors, nurses, and support staff specializes in emergency medicine and can assist adults and children with urgent healthcare needs. NYU Langone-Cobble Hill is located at 83 Amity Street in Brooklyn, New York.

• NYU Langone’s Child Study Center offers a wide range of mental health services for children, adolescents, young adults, and families. Our experts can work with your family on a range of conditions such as learning disorders, mood disorders, anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, and more. Click here for more information.

• The Pediatric Gastroenterology Program can help your child with a range of gastrointestinal diseases, including celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders. Since dietary restrictions can be especially difficult during the holidays, their licensed social workers are available to provide supportive counseling to aid you in adjusting to your child’s diagnosis and offer strategies for dealing with social events where food is a factor.

• NYU Langone’s Pediatric GUARD (Gastroesophageal, Upper Airway, and Respiratory Diseases) Center provides a team approach to care for your child with issues that affect breathing, speaking, or swallowing. They’ll collaborate to decide the best treatment plan for conditions such as breathing noises, chronic cough, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and recurrent croup, among others.

Please dial 911 if your child is experiencing an emergency.

You can check out more services provided through NYU Langone’s Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital by visiting our website, or calling 855-698-5437.

We wish you and your family a happy holiday season!

Simple Tips for Preventing Cavities in Kids

Happy kid brushing teeth

Dr. Julie Cernigliaro of NYC’s Happy Smile Pediatric Dentistry is back with another important post about dental health! In this post, she’ll focus on ways to prevent cavities.

Baby teeth are at risk for getting cavities as soon as they come into the mouth. It is important that by the time your child is 12 months old, you’ve established a “dental home”, or a place where you and your child can begin building a foundation for a healthy future. This is why it’s important to find a pediatric dentist you trust and can build a relationship with.

Once teeth come in they are subjected to constant insult due to food and drink. The more frequently food is subjected to food insult and the longer food substances stay on the teeth, the more healthy enamel will begin to break down—eventually leading to a cavity. If you wait too long to treat a cavity, it can get larger and possibly lead to infection and pain.

So what are some important tips for preventing cavities in kids?

Good health. Although genetics play a part, diet and hygiene are very important in the prevention of cavities. The sooner you incorporate good nutrition and hygiene into your child’s routine, the better it is for oral and overall health. Many foods and drinks—including natural products—can cause cavities.

Don’t share. Cavities are an infectious disease with harmful bacteria that can be transmitted from person to person. To decrease transmission potential, it is important not to put things like pacifiers and utensils in your mouth and then put them in your baby’s mouth.

Breastfeed and brush. For those mothers who breastfeed, breast milk has been proven to be healthy for your child, and if breast milk is the only source of nutrition there is no proven link to an increased risk of cavities. However, as soon as other food substances are introduced (or after 12 months of age) if you breastfeed on demand more than seven times a day without cleaning your child’s teeth, he or she is at an increased risk for cavities.

No teeth? Clean anyway. Wipe your child s gums with a soft clean wet washcloth or infant toothbrush to ensure that the first teeth come into a clean environment.

Smart snacking. While milk is healthy for kids, it has natural sugars so should be consumed in limited quantities. Juice should also be limited to no more than four to six ounces a day from a cup (not a bottle or sippy cup). Snacking should also be kept to a minimum—especially sticky foods like dried fruits, raisins, and gummy snacks that stick to the grooves of the teeth. Lollipops are the worst offenders—children suck on them and then bite into them so it’s double the trouble! Recommended sweet treats (on occasion of course!) are foods like chocolate and ice cream which melt, don’t stick to teeth, and are cleared out of the mouth quickly.

How can I take care of my child’s teeth?

A small smear layer of fluoride toothpaste should be placed on the toothbrush and used to clean the teeth until the child learns to spit it out. Once the child can spit, a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste can be used. Children cannot effectively brush their teeth on their own until they are around seven years old, so a parent or caregiver should be brushing with them until then. Floss should be incorporated as soon as the teeth touch.

What about children taking medications or with special needs?

Medications such as nebulizers or inhalers can dry out the mouth and increase the risk of getting cavities. Children using them should drink water or clean out the mouth after each treatment.

Many diet supplements have high sugar content, so any children taking them should make sure to brush and/or drink water on a regular basis.

If your child has reflux or vomits or spits up more than average, keep them hydrated and rinse out their mouths as much as possible to prevent stomach acid from eroding the teeth.

If your child has any other special needs that make it difficult to brush their teeth there are specialized tooth brushes and tools to help—just ask your pediatric dentist.

About Dr. Julie Cernigliaro

Dr. Julie Cernigliaro is a board certified pediatric dentist at Happy Smile Pediatric Dentistry in NYC. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in 2001, where she received the community service and pediatric dental health award. She continued her studies, completing her pediatric dental residency at Northwestern’s Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago in 2003.

Currently she is an associate director of the Pediatric Dental Residency Program at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. She became a diplomat of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry in 2006 and has given both national and international presentations on Pediatric Dentistry.