Author: Catherine Despot

Sweet dreams

“We couldn’t consider it from a more favorable perspective.”

That’s how Kathy and Michael Cunningham describe their feelings about polysomnography (sleep study), now that their 5-year-old son, Elijah, has recently undergone the procedure at the  Boston Children’s Hospital Sleep Laboratories. The praise is even more compelling when you consider the source: Elijah’s dad is Michael J. Cunningham, MD, FACS, Boston Children’s otolaryngologist-in-chief.

In addition to talking in his sleep, Elijah had been waking repeatedly throughout the night—a potential symptom of what is called a “non-REM parasomnia” (sleep disruption that occurs outside of the deep, rapid-eye-movement stage of sleep), possibly related to obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). After an initial examination, Cunningham’s colleague in Otolaryngology, Mark S. Volk, MD, DMD, FACS, referred Elijah to see Sanjeev Kothare, MD, interim medical director of Children’s Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders. Kothare agreed that Elijah’s sleep pattern was unusual, and recommended a sleep study to determine whether there was any underlying OSAS that would make a tonsillectomy necessary.

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Puppy love: Children’s researches dog visitation program for hospitalized kids

A team at Children’s Hospital Boston is currently in the midst of a research initiative, poring over videotapes of patient visits to examine an evolving therapeutic tool that brings the concept of “hands-on” care to a whole new level.

Tucker, a Golden Retriever, reports for duty at Children’s.

But instead of the traditional white coats, the visitors in these videos sport white, black, brown and golden ones; all made of fur. Aimee Lyons, RN, BSN, MSN, director of Nursing and Patient Services for the Medical/Surgical Intensive Care Unit, Maura Ammon, MSW, LCSW and Kathryn Atkinson, MSW, LCSW, both social workers in Children’s Center for Families, are studying how dog visits affect hospitalized kids. The research will be used to enhance Children’s Pawprints Program, which sets up supervised dog visits between hospitalized children and their families to provide a fun, interactive diversion from their usual hospital routine.

“We’re looking closely at how the dogs react throughout the stages, but what we appreciate most about dogs is exactly what the kids respond to,” says Lyons, who expects to finalize the study later this year. “Dogs don’t care if the child in front of them is sick; they’re just so happy to see that child.”

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