Stories about: Screening

Sudden cardiac death in athletes: Researchers focus on prevention

Every few years there’s news coverage on a young, assumed-healthy athlete, who suddenly dies on the field or court. Sometimes the tragedy even happens right in front of the players’ teammates, coaches and parents. Later, the autopsy often reveals a previously undetected heart condition like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, leaving many to wonder, “Why didn’t we know about this problem sooner?”

To help, Boston Children’s Hospital researchers are working on revamping current methods to screen for potential heart problems in young athletes—without adding huge expenses or time burdens to existing techniques.

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The science behind babbling babies

By now I’m sure you’ve seen this adorable video of twin babies “talking” to each other. The animated way these little guys go back forth is cute, but what’s happening developmentally for these two? Is it normal for toddlers to be this animated when pretending to talk? Are they purposely changing their inflection and tone, or is that coincidence? To learn more I spoke with Hope Dickinson, MS, CCC-SLP of the Speech-Language Pathology Program at Boston Children’s at Waltham.

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Should schools be doing more detailed screenings of young athletes?

The tragic deaths of two high school athletes last week has reignited public debate about whether or not young people should undergo more detailed physical exams before participating in sports. Those in favor of increased testing advocate for electrocardiograms (ECG) because they’re noninvasive and could help identify heart conditions before they pose problems on the field. However, even though early identification might prevent tragedy in some cases, many in the medical field aren’t convinced blanket ECG testing for young athletes is an efficient course of action. The following blog weighs the pros and cons of blanket ECG testing among kids, written by Mark Alexander, MD, an associate in Cardiology at Children’s Hospital Boston.

Mark Alexander, MD

Just over a year ago I wrote a blog post after a 17-year-old hockey player died in Haverhill. This weekend we learn of two high school boys, in Michigan and Colorado, both apparently with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, who died during athletic contests. Our hearts go out to the families and with the publicity associated with these events I am revisiting that post with a few additional thoughts.

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One patient’s story: living with scoliosis

Visceria Givans is a student athlete, diagnosed with scoliosis in grade school. She received corrective spine surgery at Children’s Hospital Boston a few years later and is actively playing sports again. In the following post she discusses her treatment, recovery and how she refused to let scoliosis define her or impact her self-esteem.

Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine measuring 20 degrees or greater

Getting checked for scoliosis at school is a little strange. First, you have to wear a bathing suit under your clothes that day because the school nurse needs to be able to see the entire line of your back to make sure your spine is growing correctly. Then, they disrupt the whole school day by checking all the kids for curvatures in their spine, one at a time. When I had my first scoliosis test back in the fourth grade, it was even stranger for me because after it was over the nurse mentioned that it looked like my back was growing a little crooked, and it was something we’d need to keep an eye on.

I didn’t know exactly what to think, but the nurse didn’t seem too worried so my parents and I didn’t think much about it either. For the next few years my doctor checked my spine regularly and when it was clear the curve was getting worse he suggested I wear a brace to try to correct it.

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