PAR and the Sports Legacy Institute: Working Together to Understand and Prevent Concussions

The Sports Legacy Institute (SLI) is a non-profit organization focused on solving the concussion crisis by supporting education and research on the causes and effects of concussions and by helping to shape subsequent policy.   SLI’s mission is “to advance the study, treatment, and prevention of brain trauma in athletes and other at-risk groups.” SLI is one of PAR’s valued partners, sharing our commitment to creating connections and changing lives.

This month, SLI announced the launch of the California Concussion Coalition, and PAR was a proud sponsor of kick-off events in Los Angeles and Oakland. The goal of the coalition is “to provide student athletes in the community with the best-in-class resources available to protect them from concussions in sports.” Special guests at the August 20 kick-off event in LA included former NFL players Jim Brown, Michael Haynes, Jerry Simmons, and Shelby Jordan, as well as professional wrestler Rob Van Dam.

Concussion prevention is very important to us at PAR, and we are delighted to be working with an organization like the SLI, which supports education and research that will help protect young athletes from serious brain injury.  In terms of best-in-class resources, our concussion apps, including the award-winning CRR (for parents and coaches) and the CARE (for health care professionals), provide a simple and cost-effective way to help users quickly assess the likelihood of a concussion and take appropriate action. PAR donates 15% of the proceeds from the sale of each concussion app to support concussion research at the Children’s National Medical Center and the Matthew A. Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Have you had a chance to download one of our concussion apps? If not, click on the links above or find us at the Apple® App StoreSM or Google Play. And let us know what you think—PAR wants to hear from you, so leave a comment and join the conversation!

Share this post: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Premature Birth Linked to Mental Illness in Adulthood

A recent study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found a relationship between gestational age and various psychiatric disorders in adults. The results suggest that a concrete relationship exists between a shorter gestational period and the onset of mental illness later in life.

The study analyzed data from the medical records of 1.3 million adults born in Sweden between 1973 and 1985. Researchers analyzed multiple pregnancy outcomes including gestational age at birth, birth weight, and Apgar score; they then compared this data with information about psychiatric hospitalization in adulthood and diagnoses of bipolar disorder, depressive disorder, eating disorders, and drug/alcohol dependency.

A smaller gestational weight was associated with alcohol and drug dependency in adulthood, whereas a low Apgar score suggested an association with depressive disorder. Most strikingly, people born very premature (i.e., 32 weeks gestation) were:

  • 2.5 times more likely to have a non-affective psychosis;
  • 2.9 times more likely to have a depressive disorder; and
  • 7.4 times more likely to have bipolar disorder.

Lead author Dr. Chiara Nosarti, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, told the BBC, “I don’t think parents should be worried, but we know that preterm birth confers an increased vulnerability to a variety of psychiatric conditions and perhaps parents should be aware of this and monitor early signs of later more serious problems.”

Although Nosarti and her coauthors acknowledge that previous studies have found associations between preterm birth and the onset of psychiatric disorders in childhood as well as adult onset schizophrenia, they assert that this study is the first to find an association between preterm birth and adult onset of both depressive disorder and bipolar affective disorder.

“We found a very strong link between premature birth and a range of psychiatric disorders,” said Nosarti in a King’s College press release. “Since we considered only the most severe cases that resulted in hospitalization, it may be that in real terms this link is even stronger. However, it is important to remember that even with the increased risk, these disorders still only affect 1-6% of the population.”

What do you think? Should parents of premature infants be alerted to their children’s increased risk for mental illness later in life? PAR wants to hear from you, so leave a comment and join the conversation!

Editor’s note: This week, PAR is pleased to welcome guest blogger Grace Gardner. A recent graduate of the University of South Florida with a B.A. in Mass Communication, Grace is working as an editorial assistant this summer in the production department at PAR.

Share this post: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Words Will Never Hurt Me?

The old playground rhyme got it wrong. Although sticks and stones do break bones, words can have devastating consequences as well. And when those words come from a child’s parent or caregiver, the repercussions for the child’s psychological and emotional health can be long lasting.

A recent clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (Pediatrics, July 20, 2012) describes the behaviors of emotionally abusive parents/caregivers and outlines the risks to children who are subjected to this abuse. Lead author Roberta Hibbard, MD, director of child protection programs at Indiana University and Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, asserts that the emotional maltreatment of children deserves the same level of attention that physical and sexual abuse is given.

Hibbard and her coauthors describe the different forms that psychological abuse of children can take, including:

  • spurning, that is, belittling or ridiculing the child in public;
  • terrorizing, or exposing the child to dangerous or chaotic situations;
  • isolating, or shutting the child out of interactions or relationships;
  • exploiting or corrupting the child; and
  • neglecting the child’s health or education.

According to the report, emotional abuse by a parent/caregiver may be verbal or nonverbal, active or passive, and with or without intent to harm. But regardless of the form or intent, these behaviors are harmful to a child’s cognitive, social, emotional, and even physical development. “Psychological maltreatment has been linked with disorders of attachment, developmental and educational problems, socialization problems, disruptive behavior, and later psychopathology,” says Hibbard.

In her July 30 article, “Childhood Mental Abuse Under the Radar?,” MedPage Today staff writer Nancy Walsh summarizes the AAP report and describes some of the challenges for mental health care providers in identifying and treating emotional abuse. “Although it can be difficult to determine the actual prevalence of psychological and emotional maltreatment of children, an estimated 4% of men reported having experienced some form of this abuse as children, as did 8% to 9% of women,” says Walsh. “The problem most often is found in families with high levels of conflict, and where substance abuse, violence, and parental mental health difficulties such as depression exist.”

Support for parents and early intervention may be the key to reducing these numbers, according to the AAP report. “Prevention before occurrence will require both the use of universal interventions aimed at promoting the type of parenting that is now recognized to be necessary for optimal child development, alongside the use of targeted interventions directed at improving parental sensitivity to a child’s cues during infancy and later parent-child interactions,” says Hibbard. “Intervention should, first and foremost, focus on a thorough assessment and ensuring the child’s safety. Potentially effective treatments include cognitive behavioral parenting programs and other psychotherapeutic interventions.”

What do you think? What can be done to increase awareness about the emotional maltreatment of children and to support parents who may be at risk for these behaviors? PAR wants to hear from you, so leave a comment and join the conversation!

Share this post: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Suicide in the Military: Can Technology Help Reduce the Risk?

The Department of Veterans Affairs is working to address the growing problem of suicide among members of the military, using technology to strengthen communication between active-duty troops or veterans and the mental health professionals who can help them. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki says that the VA will be making greater use of videoconferences between doctors and their patients, according to a June story from the Associated Press.

Suicides this year among active-duty military personnel now outnumber battle deaths, according to Pentagon statistics (New York Times, June 8). Between January 1 and June 8, 2012, there were 154 suicides—an average of one per day and an 18 percent increase over the number of suicides during the same period in 2011.

The VA is planning to use videoconferencing to eliminate some of the barriers that prevent members of the military from seeking help for feelings of distress or suicidal thoughts. Videoconferencing can reduce the amount of time patients spend traveling, making it more convenient to meet with a health care provider. Shinseki said that members of today’s military are comfortable with online chats, and working with them in this way can help reduce some of the stigma that patients feel about their mental health concerns. ‘‘Shame keeps too many veterans from seeking help,’’ Shinseki said.

The VA is also stepping up its use of electronic health records, according to the AP story. In recent months, Congress has criticized Shinseki about the length of time that some veterans have had to wait before receiving a full mental health evaluation from the VA. By integrating electronic health records among departments, the VA hopes to expedite treatment for veterans who need immediate attention.

VA officials estimate that up to two-thirds of all veterans who commit suicide have never asked for the VA’s help, a reality that Shinseki called frustrating and disheartening. “We know when we diagnose and treat, veterans get better,” he told the audience at a recent veterans suicide prevention conference, “but we can’t influence and help those we don’t see” (Stars and Stripes digital edition).

What do you think? Is videoconferencing a viable option for improving the responsiveness of mental health services for active-duty personnel or veterans? Do you use technology to communicate with clients—military or otherwise—in your practice? PAR wants to hear from you, so leave a comment and join the conversation!

Share this post: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponEmail this to someone