Raising a reader in digital days: Comics galore!

Following up on his blog post about summer reading, Dr. Craigan Usher extols the benefits of reading comic books and makes some recommendations for families looking to dive into the world of comics.

Connecting with (and through) comics

For reluctant readers, comics (also called sequential art) can be read in bite-size pieces, rather than whole chapter meals. Because they’re less text dense, comics can be read in one sitting or over the course of a few days. Further, comics can be shared among kids while on trips – with younger children perhaps enjoying “reading” the images, while more mature readers engage with the text.

Since large comics (often referred to as graphic novels) can be ready very quickly, the price can add up. This inspires young readers and families to share with one another or to borrow from the library. This is a great excuse to connect with people in your neighborhood or make your way to the local library.

Comics invite readers to be transported into the story in a way that animated features may not. Simply put, most comics invite readers to imagine what occurs in the space between panels – requiring less intense effort than pure text formats, but certainly more than TV and movies.

Encouraging empathy

Comics encourage empathy by spelling out the ways we experience the world, with cognition as thought bubbles, verbal communication as speech bubbles, reactions creatively marked by stomach butterflies or sweat beads flying off one’s face, and so on. Further, graphic literature has blossomed to include many titles that help school-age kids imagine how to successfully negotiate bullying or deal with “drama,” and they encourage children to consider the thoughts, feelings and experiences of others who may be different than themselves. These include titles like Raina Telgemeier’s tale Smile, which depicts her struggles with dental trauma. Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm’s Sunnyside Up about a young girl sent to live with her grandfather in Florida is also particularly moving. Finally, even space and otherworldly adventures like Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl, Jeff Smith’s Bone series or Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet adventures help readers consider the often conflicted emotions and motivations behind character’s actions.

Storytelling through comics

Reading comics often inspires us to draw our own, working through exciting moments by distilling these BIG experiences into brief, but short stories. For example, a child might take a fun experience they had over the summer and want to remember it to tell friends or a teacher about it later. However, some of the usual ways we commemorate trips or experiences may fall short. For example, your child may not want to journal capturing all of the details of a particular experience and maybe you didn’t want to buy the commemorative tchotchke. What better way to preserve the experience than to distill a fun trip to the river than to draw a three-panel comic? One fun activity I encourage parents to do is to sit and write these with their children. For example, you might set a timer for 10 minutes and, sitting alongside your child, both write your own 3-4 panel comics with various prompts:

  • “The best thing about this summer was…”
  • “One thing I wish I could have changed about this summer…”
  • “The summer of 2017 will always make me think about…”

After you complete your comic, share them with another and put them up on the fridge or wall for a sequential art show.

We’d love to hear your thoughts! Was this helpful? What comics are you and your children reading? Leave a comment below to let us know!


Craigan Usher, M.D.
Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Program DirectorChild & Adolescent Psychiatry Training


Five ways to bring books back into your family’s summer

The benefits of early exposure to reading, of parents reading to their children, and kids being surrounded by books have been well-studied. Researchers emphasize that early reading stimulates important language centers and emotion recognition areas of the brain, specifically in the left temporal lobe. They also note that reading enhances academic performance, increases children’s confidence and inspires the life-long skill of curiosity. Hence, if your child is puzzled by a phrase you read together and wonders aloud, “What does that mean?” then you’re on the right track! You are co-creating space for discovery.

However, summers can be hard on kids and families. Routines are disrupted and some expectations for reading might be suspended. Further, like Superman avoiding kryptonite, perhaps your child has tiptoed around the bookshelf for the last month in favor of outdoor fun or screen time. Now, four weeks before school begins, you may find yourself concerned about summer brain drain, wondering, “Does my child still remember how to read?” or “are there skills I can work on to best prepare for the upcoming school year?” Here are five tips for bringing books back into your child’s summer experience:

1. Create (or restore) a nightly routine that includes reading.

While summer camping trips and other fun activities may interfere, insofar as possible try to establish the same nightly routine your family will have during the school year. In general, this should involve turning off screens in two hours before bed, perhaps a warm bath or shower, then snuggling into bed. For young children this is a great time for them to read to you and then to be read to by parents. I encourage parents to continue reading to their children even after children have learned. This a great time for bonding and for helping you polish your voice acting chops – experimenting with villain voices can be especially hilarious. This also allows your child’s vocabulary to flourish and for children to enjoy increasingly sophisticated stories they may grow frustrated reading alone.

2. Chart progress and incentivize reading.

Libraries in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties have reading incentive programs with prizes. It’s not too late to participate. In addition, some local bookstores are offering coupons for reading books over the summer with no book purchases necessary. So, your child could potentially read library books and use the coupon for that little Pusheen cat doll they’ve been coveting!

3. Taking a road trip: audiobooks!

While tablets or movies in the car may be enjoyable for kids, one way that parents and children can enjoy stories together ­– and have a shared experience to reflect upon when you arrive at your destination – is to listen to audiobooks.

4. Comic books are books. Summer blockbusters = great reading!

This summer offers myriad films inspired by comics: “Wonder Woman,” “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and “Spiderman Homecoming.” If your family chooses to enjoy one of these summer blockbusters, you might read the comic books that inspired them. For younger kids who want to watch the movie with older siblings but may find some of the images frightening, it can be helpful to get ahold of the graphic novel adaptation and read this with them before they watch the movie. After the movie, you can look at different writers and artists who take on the same characters. One fun aspect of reading comics with your kids is that it demonstrates that movies are not canonical; they do not represent the only way of viewing a character or myth. For example, the Caucasian Peter Parker is not the only version of Spiderman and some children may find themselves relating more easily to Miles Morales, a Spiderman with African-American and Hispanic roots.

5. Not only are comic books really books, but they are also passionate, empathyenhancing works that are not just about superheroes!

As with healthy foods, I fervently believe that comic books are an “anytime snack,” but they are particularly good for summer reading. To learn more about the benefits of comics (along with some recommended reading according to age/interest), click here!


Click here to watch Dr. Craigan talk comics and summer reading on KGW! 


We’d love to hear your thoughts! Was this helpful? How do you raise summer readers in these digital days? What are you and your children reading? Leave a comment below to let us know!

Craigan Usher, M.D.
Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Program Director, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Training

Four water safety tips everyone should know

Drowning occurs with shocking frequency. According to the CDC, drowning is the leading cause of preventable death in children ages 1-4 in the U.S., and it’s second only to motor vehicle crashes in preventable deaths for kids over 4 years. Sadly, the problem is getting worse over time, as drowning deaths in pools in children ages 5-9 have increased 18 percent in the last 10 years. In Portland, we are blessed with proximity to water, in both natural and man-made settings: waterfalls, the Oregon Coast, lakes and pools. Water is ubiquitous in the Pacific Northwest, and with the joy and beauty comes the potential for tragedy. So what can we do to prevent drowning and keep our children safe?

  • Heads up – constant supervision is key
    First and foremost, supervision is the most important aspect of water safety. Data shows that the age of a child is associated with where they are most likely to suffer a drowning or near-drowning. Young children and babies are more likely to drown in bathtubs. Preschool and school-aged children drown most often in pools. Older children are most at risk in natural bodies of water such as lakes and rivers. The common thread that connects these events is a lack of adequate adult supervision, or sometime just a brief lapse in supervision. Drowning happens quickly, and can happen as a result of even a few seconds of inattention, so the supervision must be constant.
  • Lock it up (or empty it out)
    Preventing pool and spa drownings requires more than just supervision. Proper four-sided fencing with gates that latch, alarms on doors that access pools, and rigid covers should be used around all home pools and spas. Anything that collects water, whether it is a temporary plastic pool, a bucket, tub or other basin, should be emptied of water and stored upside down when it is done being used. Children can drown even in very shallow water – as little as an inch deep.
  • Buckle up
    To keep children safe around natural bodies of water and while canoeing, kayaking or boating, life jackets must be worn. Water wings or floaties are not a suitable life-saving flotation devices, and children need a life jackets that fit properly to reduce the risk of drowning in both open water and pool settings. Many public lakes, such as Henry Hagg Lake, now have free life jackets available to borrow. These can be the difference between life and death.
  • Sign up
    Finally, children need to learn to swim. While swim lessons and water safety training have not been shown to prevent drowning for babies and very young children, swim lessons absolutely can help protect school-aged children and equip them with skills that will last a lifetime. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swim lessons for children older than 4 years. The American Red Cross offers online water safety resources that parents and teachers can utilize to teach children about ways to stay safe in and around water. Unfortunately, not everyone has the opportunity to learn to swim. Classroom-based or pool-based survival swimming skills are not mandatory in public school curriculums, and this is something that can hopefully be implemented in the future. However, even with swim lessons, it should be reiterated that no child is drown-proof, and even a strong swimmer needs supervision and basic safety measures as discussed above to reduce the risk of drowning.

We must acknowledge the real risk of drowning among children, ensure heightened attention to the need for supervision for babies and children in and the water, and work to incorporate basic water safety practices in the home and our communities. With these efforts, many devastating childhood deaths can and should be prevented.


Laura Waagmeester, M.D.
Resident in Pediatrics
OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital




About Dr. Laura Waagmeester: As a native of the Pacific Northwest and a former competitive swimmer, I have spent my life in and around the water – swimming, instructing and lifeguarding. After swimming at the University of Washington and obtaining dual bachelor’s degrees in architecture and psychology, I attended Oregon Health & Science University for medical school. Following this I stayed for residency in Pediatrics at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, where I am now entering my third and final year. I am applying to Pediatrics Emergency Medicine fellowship, where I hope to continue working toward the health and safety of our children. In my spare time I am still active in swimming, as well as triathlons and long-distance running. I have competed in an Ironman Triathlon in Bolton, England, and have so far completed the Portland Bridge Swim – an 11-mile open-water race – twice!

Your scoliosis questions, answered

OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital provides team-based care and the latest techniques for children and teens. Our multidisciplinary spine team includes Dr. Scott Yang, Dr. Christina Sayama and Dr. Matthew Halsey. We sat down with Dr. Yang to ask him some frequently asked questions about scoliosis.

What is scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine that occurs from a variety of potential causes. This can lead to a deformity of the trunk, and – only in very severe cases or very young patients – lead to problems in pulmonary function. The time that the curvature of the spine gets worse corresponds to when the child is growing rapidly.

ScoliosisThe most common type of scoliosis occurs during the early teenage years when the child is growing rapidly; this is called adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Other children can have scoliosis due to abnormal development of the spine in-utero (congenital scoliosis), or due to a neurologic condition such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida (neuromuscular scoliosis).

How is scoliosis diagnosed?
Scoliosis is often initially diagnosed with a clinical examination of the back. The doctor will often have the patient bend forward and look for a curvature or abnormal hump along the back. X-rays of the spine are obtained to confirm the diagnosis.

Why are girls more likely to get scoliosis?
It’s unclear exactly why girls are more likely to get adolescent scoliosis. Some believe it has to do with the timing of the adolescent growth spurt, though there is no proven answer. Other causes of scoliosis (including congenital and neuromuscular scoliosis) affect girls and boys equally.

What kind of treatments or procedures are available for patients with scoliosis?
If a child is very young, casting of the spine has been very effective in controlling and, in some cases, resolving the scoliosis. Bracing can be a very effective tool to help prevent progression of the scoliosis to a large curve. In young children, to allow for the spine to continue to grow, there are “growth friendly” spine surgery options including magnetic rods that lengthen as the child grows. In older children and adolescents, surgery to correct the curvature and fuse the spine can be indicated in larger curves.

What advice or information would you give someone who will have surgery for scoliosis?
In older children and adolescents, surgery to correct the curvature and fuse the spine may be recommended if the curve is large. We understand how difficult this decision is for families and we respect that process. The surgery is done very carefully with real-time live monitoring of the spinal cord to prevent injury. Patients and families can typically expect a surgery to last four to seven hours depending on how severe the curvature is. Patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis typically stay in the hospital three to four days after the procedure.


Scott YangScott Yang, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation
OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital



To schedule an appointment with a member of our multidisciplinary spine team, please call 503 346-0640 and ask to be seen at our Portland location or our Salem location. 



“13 Reasons Why” poses risks to Oregon youth

Although a fictional story, the television series “13 Reasons Why” focuses on very real issues that affect youth and young adults. The show’s graphic depiction of the traumatic life events that led to the suicide of a young woman may have already adversely affected Oregon’s youth.

Since its Netflix release in March 2017, multiple young people in Portland area hospitals have reported they watched the series prior to their own suicide attempt. While the series seeks to capture the agonizing challenges of sexual trauma, bullying and suicide, its content poses a significant risk to vulnerable youth, particularly in the absence of supportive peers and adults.

There are many aspects of the series that represent incorrect notions about the psychology and behavior of most young people who die by suicide. The central character is portrayed as seeking revenge, and the adults in her life appear oblivious to her struggles and incapable of offering support. The overarching message glamorizes suicide as a heroic action while failing to offer any sense of hope or alternatives to self-destruction. In reality, most youth who die by suicide struggle with treatable mental health or substance-use disorders. Suicide is never heroic; rather, it is tragic and preventable.

While Netflix’s decision to increase viewer warnings about graphic content may have some value from a legal perspective, it does not do enough to offer specific avenues to seek help. The failure to include suicide prevention resources during each episode is particularly disturbing given the targeted population for the series appears to be teenagers and young adults. This demographic has an elevated risk for completing suicide. Perhaps the greatest concern is well-established evidence that sensational media coverage of suicide clearly leads to increased risk of contagion and clusters of suicide by other youth.

Bullying and shaming through social media, sexual trauma and suicide are very real challenges facing young people and deserve conversation and action. As mental health experts, however, we recommend against the use of “13 Reasons Why” as a tool to encourage conversation about suicide prevention, at any age. Young people who wish to view the program should do so with a supportive adult who can encourage conversation and recommend confidential local and national resources, if necessary.

“13 Reasons Why I Found Help” is the series that we really need to prevent one of the leading causes of death in the population this series seeks to engage.

This post originally ran as a guest opinion piece in The Oregonian and was written by Ajit Jetmalani, M.D., Joseph Professor of psychiatry and head of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. Other contributors include Kyle P. Johnson, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at Doernbecher; Keith Cheng, M.D., interim medical director of Unity Center for Behavioral Health Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Unit.

Suicide prevention resources:
Lines for Life, a 24/7 suicide prevention service, offers advice to parents, teachers, youth and the media dealing with suicide, both in general and as related to this television series specifically. Those personally experiencing suicidal thinking or behavior, or who may be concerned about a friend or loved one, should call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 immediately.

Youth Line (Youth to Youth support): +1 (877) 968-8491 (4-10pm daily).  Text Teen2Teen 839863

The Trevor Project (LGBTQ Youth) 1-866-488-7386

Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255

Meeting Julia: Representing autism in the media

Beloved children’s television program “Sesame Street” recently welcomed a new Muppet on the air. The character’s name is Julia, and she has autism. We sat down with Lark Huang-Storms, Ph.D., to get her take on Julia’s addition to the cast and what this means for families in the autism community.

As a mother and as a provider who cares for patients who have autism spectrum disorder, how important is it to you that “Sesame Street” has added Julia to their cast?

I think it’s wonderful. It means everything to parents to see their own children’s experiences represented positively and kindly. I’m delighted that “Sesame Street” has been progressive enough to do this. For decades, they’ve been incorporating characters in situations that may be difficult for kids (and grown-ups!) to understand. They’re great at doing it in a way preschoolers can relate to,which means they are sending a clear message of acceptance and neighborliness that everyone can understand.

I think Julia can help demystify autism for a lot of families, kids, teachers and even professionals. Seeing how Julia responds in her own ways may help viewers empathize and understand how to reach out to all kinds of kids, whether they experience ASD, or other developmental disabilities, or really any behaviors that seem different or confusing at first. Children are really responsive to adjusting their thinking and play when they are given some guidance.

How would you recommend parents and caregivers use this as a starting point for conversations about differences and inclusion?

Watching an episode together and discussing kids’ observations is a good place to start. Maybe Julia reminds them of someone in their class. The show can even be a good jumping-off point for parents and caregivers who want to talk to their kids’ teachers, babysitters or their extended families about things they may be experiencing in their own family. It’s important to note, of course, that all children are very different. There’s no way Julia could represent all kids experiencing ASD, but it sounds like she shares some similar traits that many autistic children do (like loving to jump or not responding to a greeting right away).

With Julia, “Sesame Street” seems to be presenting a very open approach to understanding a new friend. As always, they manage to do this in a way that’s child friendly and provides families with a natural starting point in talking to their kids about accepting differences and inviting all kinds of kids to play.

YouTube Preview Image


Lark Huang-Storms, Ph.D.
Director, Autism Program
OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital




This blog post is based on an interview conducted and aired by KXL. You can learn more about Julia and watch full episodes of “Sesame Street” here.

We want to speed up research and advance our understanding of autism to help improve lives. If you or your child has a professional diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and you live in the United States, we invite you to join SPARK for Autism, a landmark autism research project. 

Doctors Day Q&A with Dr. Casey Seideman

In celebration of National Doctors Day (March 30, 2017), we sat down with Casey Seideman, M.D. A pediatric urologist, Dr. Seideman takes care of kids and young adults with diseases and disorders of urination, reproductive organs and/or testes. Below, Dr. Seideman tells us more about her career path and why she loves caring for kids and families at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

What does an average day look like for you?

Every day is different, which is part of the reason I love this job. During the week, I spend time seeing patients in clinic – I get to meet families for the first time, and I also get to see how my patients are doing. Some of our patients need longer-term care, and it’s nice to develop relationships with families over time.

Casey Seideman, M.D., a pediatric urologist at OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital, says “Every day is different, which is part of the reason I love this job.” Like many of the doctors at Oregon's academic medical center, Seideman spends her days seeing patients and providing surgical treatment, all while teaching residents in the urology program. (OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff)

When I’m not in clinic, I’m operating. Many of our patients need surgical therapy, and I love that I’m able to provide them both clinical and surgical care.

My third responsibility during the day is teaching. OHSU has an excellent Urology Residency program. and I spend a large part of my day helping train Urology residents both in and out of clinical situations.

What’s something people might be surprised to learn about your career path?

In college, I wanted to be an archaeologist – I’ve actually spent two seasons digging off the coast of Cyprus! I discovered my passion for medicine later in college, and once I was in medical school, I knew pretty quickly that I wanted to be a surgeon.

I met with a urologist to discuss my interest in the field and my future career goals. To my surprise, he told me that as a woman I should reconsider and choose a field that was more “female friendly.” This was the first of a few encounters during my training where I realized that being a woman and being a surgeon did not seem compatible to some people. Luckily, their doubts and misgivings only motivated me more.

Pediatric urology is a rewarding field – I enjoy caring for children every day, and helping improve their quality of life. I love being in the operating room and working with cutting-edge technology. And I enjoy the physician-patient relationships that develop with long-term care.

What are the most rewarding and most difficult parts of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is helping families have a better quality of life. That might mean getting their child out of the hospital faster, reducing pain or fixing a surgical problem. The more quality time the family can spend together outside of the hospital, the better!

Sometimes the most challenging part of my job can be dealing with sick kids who require a lot of coordination of care. However, the biggest challenges can sometimes be the most rewarding.

What changes do you see in your field that you’re excited about?  

Urology and pediatric urology are at the forefront of technological advancements. Oftentimes, we are leaders in the technology that drives surgery. Here at OHSU, we offer a wide range of minimally invasive urologic surgeries. Minimally invasive surgery is an alternative to large incisions, and often reduces hospital stays and pain after surgery.

We also are pushing to consolidate care into multidisciplinary clinics. So instead of scheduling separate doctors appointments and imaging, we are pushing to create clinics where patients can be seen by multiple specialties at the same time.

What advice would you give to an aspiring physician or surgeon? 

To quote Winston Churchill: “Never, ever ever ever ever give up.” Medical and surgical training can be very long, and oftentimes grueling. The long hours and training can seem never ending, but it’s worth it – I promise!”

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time I enjoy exploring the Portland area and the outdoors. I believe work/life balance does exist, but it requires commitment. Working out, trying new local restaurants and spending quality time with my loved ones helps me maintain that balance.

Do you have any advice or words of encouragement for OHSU Doernbecher patients and families?

Patients and families are in great hands at Doernbecher. We go the extra mile to ensure that all patients get high quality, coordinated care. We strive to minimize multiple appointments and consolidate testing. And, most importantly, we want the best experience possible to improve your quality of life.


Casey Seideman, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Urology
OHSU School of Medicine




If you’d like to join us in thanking the physicians who care for our patients and families, we invite you to share your story or make a donation in your Doernbecher doc’s name.

Meet ‘Candlelighters for Children with Cancer’

This year, Candlelighters for Children with Cancer marks its 40th anniversary. Below, Candlelighters Executive Director Jackie Groah shares how the organization got started and who it serves.

Candlelighters’ beginning

 In 1977, five families who spent months living in OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital while caring for their children with cancer realized that there were few services that supported the whole family – their shared experiences helped shape our organization, which supports patients’ entire families.

Candlelighters founder Joan Hill says their goal was to help families who felt they had nowhere to turn when their child was diagnosed.

Joan Hill, Candlelighters founder

Joan Hill, Candlelighters founder

“When my daughter was in the hospital, it was other families in similar situations who gave me good advice and strength to handle the ups and downs,” she said. “When my daughter got better, it was my turn to help other families who were in crisis.”

Over the years, the organization has grown from a one-person, home-based office into a statewide organization with offices in Portland and volunteer-led chapters in Central Oregon, the mid-Willamette Valley and Southern Oregon.

“It was always my hope that a cure would put this organization out of business, but until that happens, I am so proud that a little nonprofit that was founded to help a few families in the 1970s continues to provide a community of hope for families battling pediatric cancer today,” Joan said.

Candlelighters has partnered with OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital for 40 years. Through our long collaboration, we have served thousands of family members affected by childhood cancer.

By the numbers

Candlelighters is a local nonprofit organization that provides hope, healing and light to families affected by the emotional and financial hardships caused by childhood cancer in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Families receive comfort in local hospitals through catered family meals, a 24/7 food pantry and a weekly snack cart. Some families depend on Candlelighters for monthly family experiences, emergency financial funding or bereavement support.

In 2016:

Celebrating 40 years

In the last four decades, Candlelighters for Children with Cancer has served 80,000 family members. This year, Candlelighters is hosting the Cancer Warrior Breakfast, a no-cost event where community leaders can learn more about Candlelighters’ mission to serve the whole family when a child is diagnosed with cancer. Join us on Thursday, April 6, from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. at the Oregon Zoo.

Click here to register, become a table host or become a sponsor.

Using your head

This article was written by Scott Henjum and originally appeared in the Portland Monthly 2017 Kids’ Health Annual magazine.

Your child doesn’t need to be a high school football star to be at risk of a concussion. Also called mild traumatic brain injuries, concussions can be caused by any serious impact to the head, most commonly during a high-contact sport, a fall or a bike or car accident.

Jim Chesnutt, M.D., a sports medicine physician at OHSU and a concussion management expert, advises that athletes be immediately removed from sports and taken to a medical provider if they show signs of concussion, which include the following:

  • Physical: headache; nausea or vomiting; balance problems; dizziness; fuzzy or blurry vision; sensitivity to light
  • Cognitive: difficulty thinking clearly; difficulty concentrating; difficulty remembering new information
  • Emotional: irritability; sadness; anxiety
  • Sleep: sleeping more or less than usual; having trouble falling asleep

“Concussions can last from minutes to hours, weeks, months or longer,” says Dr. Chesnutt. “Fortunately, in about 80 percent of cases, people recover from concussions within three or four weeks.”

Rest is critical to treat a concussion: It helps the brain heal. Toddlers should avoid stimulation like loud music and television; school-age children should also avoid video games and texting. Students may need to take a few days off from school and limit homework, especially assignments requiring prolonged computer use.

“Researchers have determined that [step-by-step] transitions are critical to treat a concussion,” says Dr. Chesnutt. “It is important to modify school attendance and academic programs for a few days to allow a gradual return to cognitive and psychological stresses.”

OHSU and OHSU Doernbecher concussion specialists usually recommend approximately a two-day period of rest before transitioning back to schoolwork, and at least a weeklong break from athletics. Student athletes can return to contact sports only after obtaining medical clearance and following a “Return to Play” protocol.

Too much rest, however, can be detrimental and slow the recovery process.

“In one study, researchers compared students who returned to school after two days of rest after suffering a concussion with kids who returned five days after,” said Dr. Chesnutt. “They found that the ones who returned after two days did better than those who rested for five.”

So encourage your kiddo to hit the pillow for a couple of days – and then it’s time to hit the books!

If you are concerned your child has suffered a concussion, talk with your pediatrician or call the OHSU Sports Medicine Clinic at 503-494-4000. 

The healing power of art: CHAP at OHSU Doernbecher

Children’s Healing Art Project (CHAP) has been spreading joy at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital for 10 years. We asked CHAP Lead Hospital Art Teacher Sharon Jaye Perrins to tell us more about CHAP’s mission and impact at OHSU Doernbecher.

20161104_162835 copy“I just love this. This is how I heal.”

That’s how one mother of an oncology patient recently explained the solace she found through the healing power of art.

CHAP was started by Frank Etxaniz in 2006. Frank believed that it was possible to harness people’s nervous energy and transform it into creative energy. Making art can be such a release.

So many beautiful connections happen at the art table. We see young patients becoming fast friends. We witness mothers supporting each other, spot on. Fathers sit down and surprise their children with what they can do when they pick up a paintbrush. This feeling of community is at the heart of CHAP.

Where can OHSU Doernbecher patients connect with CHAP?

Each week at OHSU, CHAP’s teaching artists lead 36.5 hours of art-making all around campus. On OHSU Doernbecher’s 8th floor, CHAP connects with individuals awaiting surgeries. The waiting area is transformed into a beading workshop with patients and families pulling up chairs or kneeling on the floor alongside coffee tables topped with green felt tablecloths. Busy hands help change a room’s energy, and entire families are welcome – the more, the merrier!

CHAP also offers art in two inpatient locations at OHSU Doernbecher: the 9th floor (General Pediatrics) and 10 South (Pediatric Hematology/Oncology). Our style is to leave things very open-ended so children have freedom to decide what they want to create. It’s truly a pleasure to watch art-making unfold, whether it’s with clay, paint, beads, sequins or feathers.

Our longstanding philosophy at CHAP is that the children will be recognized for their creativity and ingenuity, not by their disease or diagnosis.

CHAP is proud to contribute to the patient’s experience in the hospital. Our dedicated team of volunteers and art teachers has crafted this in-hospital art program to bring patients into a communal space where they can work side by side with other patients and their families. When a patient is in isolation, CHAP can lovingly assemble art supplies to be delivered to the patient’s room to help keep them active, engaged and on the road to wellness.

A great way to connect with CHAP is by contacting one of OHSU Doernbecher’s amazing Child Life Specialists. Or just keep an eye out for our colorful art carts rolling down the hallways of OHSU Doernbecher. We’d love to bring a little ray of light your way!

How can families stay engaged with CHAP outside of the hospital?

When families are discharged from the hospital, we encourage them to keep in touch by visiting our CHAP studio in Southeast Portland. All children and teens affected by pediatric illness or special needs are invited to participate in inclusive Art Club events at the studio, free of charge. Learn more here.

Interested in learning more about CHAP? Visit their website to find out more!

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