Thursday, November 21, 2013
Taking steps to protect youth from concussions

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
A topic that is often in the news is about when a student athlete should return to the field after a concussion. Recent research has shown that returning to the field is only one of the issues that needs to be addressed. A more important question is really when they should return to the classroom. What we are finding is that students with concussions need to have adjustments made in school for two main reasons. The first reason is that they will not be able to perform well if they are recovering from a concussion. The second is that the skills that they need to perform in school might make the concussion symptoms worse. Every child is different. Every concussion is different. That means that every student with a concussion will need to have an individual plan. The plan will need to be based upon the symptoms that the child is having. Some of those things are obvious. For example, students recovering from a concussion should not take standardized state testing. The main reason is that the results will be useless. Their performance is not going to be what it normally is so the information will be of no value. Of more concern is that the intense thinking involved could worsen the concussion symptoms. Other things are not as obvious. For example, some people with concussions are bothered by bright lights. That group of students should be allowed to wear sunglasses in the classroom. They also should have less exposure to things like computer screens which are bright. There are some lessons for all of us in these new findings. The first is that every school system now needs to create a plan for dealing with students who have suffered concussions. Parents should ask their school board members to make sure a plan is in place. School board members should be sure that the superintendent asks the principals to set up a plan for each school. The next step is identifying students who have had concussions. Those who experience them on the athletic field are the easiest to identify. However, parents need to be aware to report instances of concussion to the school when that is not the case. After that there should be an individual plan created by the student's physician. It should be based upon the symptoms that the child is having. There should be an appeal process in place for the parents if the school does not honor the plan. Some students will resist changes that make them stand out. This is especially true for high school students. Therefore, the school and parents need to work together to come up with a plan that the student is able to follow. The good news is that most concussions resolve within about three weeks so any plan will be short term in nature. The bottom line is that our focus on concussions in the past was relatively limited. As a community we must reconsider our approach. It will involve parents and schools and doctors to provide the right environment for our youth.

Screenings November 25 Residents living in and around the Seaford community can be screened to reduce their risk of having a stroke or bone fracture. Seaford VFW Post #4961 will host Life Line Screening on Monday, Nov. 25. This event is being sponsored by Bayhealth Medical Center. Screenings identify potential cardiovascular conditions such as blocked arteries and irregular heart rhythm, abdominal aortic aneurysms, and hardening of the arteries in the legs, which is a strong predictor of heart disease. A bone density screening to assess osteoporosis risk is also offered and is appropriate for both men and women. Packages start at $159. All screenings take 60 to 90 minutes to complete. To schedule an appointment, call 1-877-237-1287 or visit Pre-registration is required.

Key Club Blood Drive Woodbridge High School's Key Club Blood Drive will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 16, at the high school auditorium. If you cannot participate that day, you can go to any local blood bank at your convenience and fill out a hero card when donating which will still give Woodbridge High School credit for your donation. Also, please spread the word among your families, friends and in the community. To register to donate, contact Evelyne Adams at 337-8289, ext. 402 or

Hospice plans Lunch Bunch Lecture Delaware Hospice's Family Support Center will hold a Lunch Bunch Lecture on Friday, Dec. 6, where Dr. Judy Pierson, clinical psychologist, will discuss "Healing the Wounded Inner Child," at the Delaware Hospice Center, Milford, from noon to 1:30 p.m. While most people want to believe that the past is behind them, childhood experiences greatly shape the way adults view themselves, how they choose relationships and the way they behave. This workshop will provide participants with an opportunity to gain a better understanding of how their childhood experiences continue to shape and limit their lives.

It will also provide tools for healing from these experiences. Participants will learn how to re-parent this wounded child and bring more love, support and joy into their lives. Lectures, which are organized by Delaware Hospice's Family Support Center to help members of the community reinvest in life, are open to the public. Registration is required as seating is limited and the cost of lunch is $5 per person. Register by Wednesday, Dec. 4, by contacting Michele August at 856-7717 or 478-5707 or

Free home asthma assessment The American Lung Association in Delaware (ALA-DE) offers free home assessments for families with children 18 and under who are living with asthma. During a 20 to 30 minute phone call, a registered nurse or respiratory therapist helps parents with children who have asthma identify and eliminate allergens and asthma triggers found in their homes. In addition, the nurse or therapist offers education about the importance of a comprehensive approach to asthma management. The assessment also includes a three month follow-up call from the nurse or therapist. To sign up for a free assessment, contact Nicole Goldsboro at 302-737-6414 ext. 16 or Interested families should supply contact information and a time convenient for the free home assessment. First flu case identified in Kent County Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) reports the first laboratory confirmed case of influenza for Kent County and the second case for the 2013-2014 flu season. The case is a man between age 30 and 40 who was tested on Nov. 9. He was not vaccinated and did not require hospitalization. There are two main types of influenza (flu) virus - types A and B - that routinely spread in people and are responsible for seasonal flu outbreaks each year. This is Delaware's second case of influenza A for the season. DPH urges all Delawareans 6 months of age and older who have not yet been vaccinated against the flu to get a vaccine as soon as possible. DPH will conduct public flu clinics including some with evening hours at various locations in the state. For DPH flu clinic schedules for this season, please visit For more information on influenza prevention, diagnosis and treatment call the Division of Public Health at 1-888-295-5156 or 302-744-1033, or visit

Jeffrey West attends certification course Jeffrey West, Doctor of Physical Therapy, of Aquacare Physical Therapy in Millsboro, attended a Parkinson's Wellness Recovery Certification course recently. The focus of the course was to translate current research into exercises that result in neurological improvements in the treatment approaches for individuals with Parkinson's Disease. Recent research in patients with Parkinson's Disease shows that those that participate in certain daily focused exercises have shown to optimize and improve their brain health (neuroplasticity). The daily exercise routines are taught by trained physical therapists with the intent that they will become part of the patient's daily home exercise program. For more information on the specialized services offered for Parkinson's Disease at Aquacare Physical Therapy, call 302-945-4250. Dr. West offers free screenings to determine if you are a candidate for Aquacare's Parkinson's Disease Program.

Hughes named top nurse Licensed practical nurse Melinda Hughes of Seaford, a pediatric nurse with BAYADA Home Health Care, was chosen as the top nurse in Delaware by the Home Health Nurses Association (HHNA) and the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC). Hughes was honored at a special reception at NAHC's Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C. "The nurses we feature here met a number of strict criteria established by a selection committee made up of seven members from the HHNA advisory board and five members from NAHC's Forum of State Associations," said NAHC President Val J. Halamandaris. According to BAYADA Client Services Manager Jenny Scott, "Melinda embodies The BAYADA Way in so many ways, but the one that stands out most clearly is her reliability. In the last two years, she has only been unable to keep four shifts. Melinda regularly works more than 40 hours a week. This is an incredible record and a testament to how seriously she takes her job and responsibilities to her clients. She is primarily a night-shift nurse and our families know that Melinda will be there to provide excellent care for their children while they sleep." Melinda and the other nurses were featured in the May issue of CARING Magazine, which highlighted the meaningful and in-demand care that nurses provide.