Thursday, August 09, 2007
Make your kids be safe

By Anthony Policastro, M.D

I have been doing a lot of football physicals in the office. One of the questions that I ask of that age group of boys is whether they wear a helmet when they ride their bicycles. The almost universal answer is "no". I then ask if they plan on wearing a football helmet when they play football. They all answer yes to that question. I follow that with a question as to whether they think they are more likely to hurt their head playing football or riding a bicycle. They all answer correctly. Riding a bicycle is far more dangerous. Therefore, there is no reason to take a chance on having a head injury while riding a bicycle. At that point I turn to the parents to ask why their son does not wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. The response is usually that they cannot get him to do so. As a behavioral pediatrician, there seems to be an obvious solution to this particular issue. Head protection is important when riding a bicycle. It is also a state law to do so. At the very least this can be easily influenced during football season. If a child gets caught not using a helmet on the bicycle, he should forfeit that week's football practice and game. If he does not know how to take care of himself on a bicycle, then he probably is not going to be careful on the football field. It will only take one or two forfeited games or practices to get the point across. In boys who are of driving age, a forfeiture of car keys for a brief period is also useful. If they cannot ride the bicycle safely, they are likely to not drive the car safely. Parents are in a position to send safety messages. They have the opportunity to provide negative reinforcement when safety procedures are not followed. When I see someone in the office, the answer should be that he does not like to wear his helmet but his parents make him do so.

Three birds test positive for West Nile
Three dead wild birds collected by the Delaware Mosquito Control Section in northern New Castle and western Kent counties have tested positive for West Nile virus following analyses by the Delaware Public Health Laboratory, as reported by the Lab on July 18. West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne disease capable of sickening or even killing people and horses. The three virus-positive birds were found in or near the following areas: a crow from the Tally Hill area of Wilmington on June 27, a cardinal from the Marydel area on July 1, and a robin from the Claymont area on July 3. To date this year, no other instances of West Nile virus have been reported in Delaware. Neither are there any signs yet in Delaware during 2007 of eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus, another mosquito-borne disease that also affects humans and horses. However, according to Mosquito Control Administrator William Meredith, Ph.D., peak activity in the mid-Atlantic region for both West Nile virus and EEE typically happens from about the second week in August through the second week in October. Meredith noted that the first evidence of West Nile virus in Delaware last year did not surface until Aug. 7 and that the detection of West Nile this year as early as June 27 might not portend well for what could be in store for 2007. West Nile virus has been present every year in varying degrees in Delaware since 2001. While this finding in the three dead wild birds is not cause for alarm, it serves as a good reminder for people to take common-sense precautions against mosquito bites, noted Meredith. This includes wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors in mosquito-prone areas, applying insect repellent containing 10-30 percent DEET in accordance with all label instructions, and avoiding mosquito-infested areas or times of peak mosquito activity around dusk, dawn or throughout the evening. For more information about mosquito biology/ecology and mosquito control, contact the Mosquito Control Section (Dover office) at 302-739-9917. For more information about West Nile virus in humans and related medical issues, contact the Division of Public Health at 1-888-295-5156. For more information about West Nile virus in horses and equine vaccines, contact the Department of Agriculture's Poultry and Animal Health Section at 302-698-4500 or (800) 282-8685 (Delaware only).

Nanticoke plans golf tournament
The 21st annual Nanticoke Health Services Golf Tournament is Friday, Sept. 7 at the Seaford Golf and Country Club.

The tournament, which is a scramble format, begins at Noon with a shotgun start. The day consists of practice, lunch, 18-holes of golf, dinner and door prizes. With the help of individuals and corporate sponsors, the tournament's goal is to raise over $35,000 for Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. Proceeds will be used for the hospital's charity endowment prescription fund, a special indigent fund for patients in need of assistance with prescription costs.

Stroke and Osteoporosis Screening
Residents living in and around Seaford can be screened to reduce their risk of having a stroke or a serious bone fracture. Life Line Screening will be at Woodland United Methodist Church on Aug. 30. The site is located at 5099 Woodland Church Road, Seaford. Appointments will begin at 9 a.m. A stroke, also known as a "brain attack," is ranked as the third leading killer in the world, and the leading cause of nursing home admissions. Stroke often occurs without warning. The good news is that painless screening can help identify problems that can lead to stroke before it is too late. Screenings are fast, painless and low cost. They test for blocked carotid arteries, abdominal aortic aneurysms, and hardening of the arteries in the legs. Bone density screening is also offered to assess the risk of osteoporosis. These screenings are important because of the silent and often debilitating nature of the conditions. The majority of strokes are caused by plaque build up in the carotid arteries. The abdominal aorta is the largest artery in the body, and a weakness in the walls of the artery can cause a ballooning called an aneurysm, which can rupture. A ruptured aneurysm is generally fatal. Peripheral arterial disease or PAD is also known as "hardening of the arteries." Sufferers have a 4-6 fold increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Risk is evaluated through a measurement called the "Ankle-Brachial Index," which is obtained by reading the systolic pressure in the ankle and arm. All four screenings take less than an hour to complete. The cost for a Wellness Package of all four screenings including free osteoporosis screening is $129. Life Line Screening was established in 1993, and has since become the nation's leading provider of vascular screenings. More than 85 ultrasound teams are on staff to travel to local communities, bringing the screenings to residents. These non-invasive, inexpensive and painless, ultrasound tests help people identify their risk for stroke, vascular diseases or osteoporosis early enough for their physician to begin preventive procedures. For more information regarding the screenings or to schedule an appointment, call 237-1287 or visit Pre-registration is required.

CNA of the Year
To recognize the importance of Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) as invaluable members of the health care team, nominations are being accepted at Delaware Technical & Community College, Owens Campus, for the annual CNA of the Year award. The award will be presented at the 11th annual CNA Recognition Day held on Friday, Oct. 19, at the Owens Campus in Georgetown. The honoree will be chosen from nominations submitted by family members, friends, employers, and patients based on the CNA's dedication to providing care, comfort, and commitment to his/her patients. Nomination forms must be completed and returned to the college no later than Sept. 15. CNA Recognition Day is an annual event held at the Owens Campus and is co-sponsored by the college along with local hospitals, long-term care facilities, and home health agencies. It provides an occasion for CNAs to improve their professional skills, develop their professional identity, and increase their sense of pride and self-esteem. The event includes workshops, exhibits, door prizes, and networking opportunities as it brings together CNAs from Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland. For more information about the award, the event, or to receive a nomination form, call 302-856-5400, ext. 3190.