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‘I call it my medicine’: Rise Above clinic helps Indigenous children find success in sports and life

School is out for the summer, but Rogers High School’s Carl “Tuffy” Ellingsen Athletic Center was packed Monday afternoon with kids ready to learn how their health and well -being are critical to chase their dreams.

The nonprofit Rise Above hosted its second annual sports clinic to empower, enrich and inspire Indigenous children to “rise above” their circumstances.

“It’s really amazing. I’m overwhelmed,” said Jaci McCormack, founder of Rise Above. “People giving back, all the all-stars here wanting to help and enjoy themselves while coaching, and the kids? Their faces, their energy? I’m rejuvenated. It’s very humbling to have people come out for Rise Above, because it’s not about us, it’s about the kids.”

The sports clinic welcomed children from all over the Pacific Northwest . The diversity in age and perspective of the clinic leaders was an intentional decision for this year’s clinic.

NBA stars Lenny Wilkens, Spencer Haywood, Dale Ellis, Craig Ehlo and Detlef Schrempf worked the basketball clinics. Olympians Carla McGhee and Venus Lacy, part of the 1996 Women’s Olympic Basketball Team, also participated. University of Montana player Freddy Brown III, of the Makah Tribe, led basketball exercises.

Emoni Bush, of the We Wai Kum First Nation, and Jeff Ross, a descendant of the English River First Nation, led volleyball workouts.

Adaptive sports were added to this year’s schedule. Noah Hotchkiss, a South Ute and South Cheyenne tribal member, led basketball clinics too. He sustained an injury at age 11 and he since has used a wheelchair for mobility. Before then, he played soccer.

Hotchkiss called sports “his medicine.” He pursued wheelchair basketball to keep active, one of the main components of his choice to attend Rise Above.

“I call it my medicine. Sports gave me an outlet to be myself and find love in those kinds of areas of my life,” Hotchkiss said. “My mentor (Olympic runner) Billy Mills used to tell me that our lack in Indian Country today is a lack of dreams. Events like this are empowering them, we’re showing them what they can do.”

As a member of the men’s national wheelchair basketball team, Hotchkiss feels that his presence was an added layer of representation for children . He and Dale Ellis played a short game of wheelchair basketball near the clinic’s end.

“I think it’s an important thing to have accessibility for all sports, and that includes more women’s sports, more disabled sports, Special Olympics, to really impact as many people as possible,” Hotchkiss said. “It wasn’t until I found adaptive sports where I said ‘OK, I can do this and I can do that.’ I’ve benefited from it so much that I want to pass that message to anyone else that I can.”

Soccer and football workouts, newer additions to the clinic, took place outside to Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine” while McCormack passed out sunscreen.

Lynley Hilligoss, who met McCormack at Illinois State University, led soccer workouts that focused on passing and stealing techniques.

Levi Horn, a descendant of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, hosted football workouts. As a young Indigenous man, Horn said sports helped him “say yes to the good stuff and build a path to goals.”

Children who attended the football clinic participated in ladder exercises for clean footwork, tackle drills as well as technique drills that focused on keeping receivers out of opponents’ eyesight.

A former NFL offensive tackle, Horn is also head coach of the freshmen football team at Rogers, his alma mater. He called his involvement in the Rise Above clinic “a dream come true.” The moment, Horn said, is a full-circle moment as someone who grew up in the Hillyard Neighborhood, unable to…READ MORE


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Autistic child with Down syndrome benefits more from iPad than dedicated disability tech

The father of an autistic child with Down syndrome has said that an iPad with a speech app has made more difference to his son’s life than the far more expensive dedicated device offered under state programs.

The piece highlights the gap between what will most benefit kids with special needs, and what healthcare and education programs are willing to pay for …


David Perry tells the story of his son in a piece in The Verge.

My son is 15. He is also an autistic boy with Down syndrome. From the moment he was born, well-informed experts, well-intentioned fellow parents, and a whole universe of marketing suggested that technology would provide answers to many of the problems we’d end up facing […]

Technology can provide disabled people with wondrous new tools, but only — as with so many kinds of innovation — when they are married to systems that take into account our complex and varied humanity […]

My son’s most significant needs relate to speech. By the time he was three, it was clear he was not going to predominantly use verbal speech, though he was learning to communicate in a wide variety of ways. His speech therapist at the time quickly sent us to a world-class facility to assess the best way for him to use tech to talk.

What they hoped for was a $250 speech app, and an iPad on which to run it. What they got was three thousand dollars’ worth of the lowest-tech you could possibly imagine.

We tried a wide variety of devices, but because he had the manual dexterity to operate the simplest one, that’s the one the state would pay for. Within a few weeks after having it prescribed, we had a plastic box where you could literally cut and paste pieces of paper with words and pictures on it, and then use your voice to record sounds that then my son could press to play out loud. It was over a foot long. It cost over $3,000 […]

We wanted Proloquo2go, one of a number of programs that can reproduce words or phrases by selecting from an infinitely customizable menu. It cost $250, which we didn’t have, and needed to be on an iPad, which we also couldn’t afford. The price would have been much lower than our state-funded arts and crafts box, but at the time the system wouldn’t pay for medical programs on non-medical devices.

Fortunately, a donor stepped in to provide the iPad and app. Not only has that provided the teenager with the much-needed speech app, which he’s able to use at school, but it has also given him access to much-needed visual and auditory stimulation – key to an autistic child…..READ MORE


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Got Long Covid? Medical Expertise Is Vital, and Seniors Should Prepare to Go Slow

Older adults who have survived covid-19 are more likely than younger patients to have persistent symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness, muscle aches, heart palpitations, headaches, joint pain, and difficulty with memory and concentration — problems linked to long covid.

But it can be hard to distinguish lingering aftereffects of covid from conditions common in older adults such as lung disease, heart disease, and mild cognitive impairment. There are no diagnostic tests or recommended treatments for long covid, and the biological mechanisms that underlie its effects remain poorly understood.

“Identifying long covid in older adults with other medical conditions is tricky,” said Dr. Nathan Erdmann, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama-Birmingham’s school of medicine. Failing to do so means older covid survivors might not receive appropriate care.

What should older adults do if they don’t feel well weeks after becoming ill with the virus? I asked a dozen experts for advice. Here’s what they suggested.

Seek medical attention. “If an older person or their caregiver is noticing that it’s been a month or two since covid and something isn’t right — they’ve lost a lot of weight or they’re extremely weak or forgetful — it’s worth going in for an evaluation,” said Dr. Liron Sinvani, director of the geriatric hospitalist service at Northwell Health, a large health system in New York.

But be forewarned: Many primary care physicians are at a loss as to how to identify and manage long covid. If you’re not getting much help from your doctor, consider getting a referral to a specialist who sees long covid patients or a long covid clinic. Also, be prepared to be patient: Waits for appointments are lengthy.

At least 66 hospitals or health systems have created interdisciplinary clinics, according to Becker’s Hospital Review, an industry publication. For people who don’t live near one of those, virtual consultations are often available. For specialist referrals, ask whether the physician has experience with long covid patients.

Also, more than 80 medical centers in more than 30 states are enrolling patients in a four-year, $1.15 billion study of long covid that is being funded by the National Institutes of Health and is known as RECOVER (Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery). Older adults who choose to participate will receive ongoing medical attention.

Pursue comprehensive care. At the University of Southern California’s covid recovery clinic, physicians start by making sure that any underlying medical conditions that older patients have — for instance, heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease — are well controlled. Also, they check for new conditions that may have surfaced after a covid infection.

If preexisting and new conditions are properly managed and further tests come back negative, “there is probably an element of long covid,” said Dr. Caitlin McAuley, one of two physicians at the Keck School of Medicine clinic.

At that point, the focus becomes helping older adults regain the ability to manage daily tasks such as showering, dressing, moving around the house, and shopping. Typically, several months of physical therapy, occupational therapy, or cognitive rehabilitation are prescribed.

Dr. Erica Spatz, an associate professor of cardiology at the Yale School of Medicine, looks for evidence of organ damage, such as changes in the heart muscle, in older patients. If that’s detected, there are well-established treatments that can be tried. “The older a person is, the more likely we are to find organ injury,” Spatz said.

At the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago, a rehabilitation hospital, experts have discovered that a significant number of patients with breathing problems have atrophy in the diaphragm, a muscle that’s essential to breathing, said Dr. Colin Franz, a physician-scientist. Once inflammation is under control, breathing exercises help patients build back the muscle, he said.

For older adults concerned about their cognition after covid, McAuley recommends a neuropsychological exam. “Plenty of older patients who’ve had covid feel like they now have dementia. But when they do the testing, all their higher-level cognitive functioning is intact, and it’s things like attention or cognitive fluency that are impaired,” she said. “It’s important to understand where deficits are so we can target therapy appropriately.”

Become active gradually. Older patients tend to lose strength and fitness after severe illness — a phenomenon known as “deconditioning” — and their blood volume and heart muscles will start shrinking in a few weeks if they lie in bed or get little activity, Spatz said. That can cause dizziness or a racing heart upon standing up.

In line with recent recommendations from the American College of Cardiology, Spatz advises patients who have developed these symptoms after covid to drink more fluids, consume more salt, and wear compression socks and abdominal binders.

“I often hear that going for a walk feels awful,” Spatz said. When returning to exercise, “start with five to 10 minutes on a recumbent bicycle or a rower, and add a couple of minutes every week,” she suggested. After a month, move to a semi-recumbent position on a standard bike. Then, after another month, try walking, a short distance at first and then longer distances over time.

This “go slow” advice also applies to older adults with cognitive concerns after covid. Franz said he often recommends restricting time spent on cognitively demanding tasks, along with exercises, for brain health and memory. At least early on, “people need less activity and more cognitive rest,” he noted.

Reset expectations. Older adults typically have a harder time bouncing back from serious illness, including covid. But even seniors who had mild or moderate reactions to the virus can find themselves struggling weeks or months later.

The most important message older patients need to hear is “give yourself time to recover,” said Dr. Greg Vanichkachorn, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Covid Activity Rehabilitation Program in Rochester, Minnesota. Generally, older adults appear to be taking longer to recover from long covid than younger or middle-aged adults, he noted.

Learning how to set priorities and not do too much too quickly is essential. “In this patient population, we’ve found that having patients grit their teeth and push themselves will actually make them worse” — a phenomenon known as “post-exertional malaise,” Vanichkachorn said.

Instead, people need to learn how to pace themselves.

“Any significant health event forces people to reexamine their expectations and their priorities, and long covid has really accelerated that,” said Jamie Wilcox, an associate professor of clinical occupational therapy at the Keck School of Medicine. “Everyone I see feels that it’s accelerated their aging process.”

Consider vulnerabilities. Older adults who have had covid and who are poor, frail, physically or cognitively disabled, and socially isolated are of considerable concern. This group has been more likely to experience severe effects from covid, and those who survived may not readily access health care services.

“We all share concern about marginalized seniors with limited health care access and poorer overall health status,” said Erdmann, of UAB. “Sprinkle a dangerous new pathology that’s not well understood on top of that, and you have a recipe for greater disparities in care.”

“A lot of older [long covid] patients we deal with aren’t accustomed to asking for help, and they think, perhaps, it’s a little shameful to be needy,” said James Jackson, director of long-term outcomes at the Critical Illness, Brain Dysfunction, and Survivorship Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

The implications are significant, not only for the patients but also for health care providers, friends, and family. “You really have to check in with people who are older and vulnerable and who have had covid and not just make assumptions that they’re fine just because they tell you they are,” Jackson said. “We need to be more proactive in engaging them and finding out, really, how they are.”…..READ MORE


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3 tips to help seniors beat the heat this summer

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Summertime is here! Green grass, family vacations, camping and the warmth of the sun are just some of the things that make this among the most fun and relaxing times of year. Because we do so many outdoor activities in the summer, it is vital to be prepared for the heat. Let’s look at three things we can do to stay cool and safe this season.

Stay hydrated 

As we age, it can become more difficult for our bodies to produce sweat or to adjust to sudden changes in temperature, like going outside on a hot day after being inside an air-conditioned room. This can increase the risks of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, especially in those who are not drinking enough water.

A common mistake people make is thinking that drinking juice or soda pop is contributing to them staying hydrated. Many of these drinks contain caffeine and sugar, which can actually contribute to dehydration. If you know you will be spending time outdoors, it is best to drink water before you leave and to bring water with you so that you can drink along the way.

Made in the shade 

Even though you may not be able to stay in the shade all the time, remember to seek it whenever you can. It is much cooler under a canopy or a tree than directly exposed to the hot sun. It will help you to conserve energy and avoid sunburn that can come from prolonged exposure. It is also a good idea to remember to cover windows in your home on a hot day. Aside from helping you stay cool, it will also save you money in energy costs.

“Proper hydration and moderation as you exert in the Southern Utah heat is key to health and wellness,” said Ada Farnsworth, RN, director of nursing at Primrose of Washington. “Schedule outdoor activities during the cooler parts of the day. Carry water with you, and be sure you rest when you feel fatigued.”

Educate yourself 

Be on the lookout for signs of overheating, and if you are experiencing them, see a doctor immediately. These symptoms include the following:

  • No sweat on a hot day.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Headaches.
  • Difficulty breathing.

“Sunburns, sunstroke and overheating can become life-threatening for our seniors,” Farnsworth said. “Be sure to wear appropriate accessories and sunscreen to protect yourself when you’re outside. Note also that some medications have sun sensitivity and may create unanticipated reactions.”

Rising temperatures in Southern Utah often equal isolation and loneliness for the area’s retirement population. Social circles shrink when the ability to be outdoors and participate in activities is hindered by the heat. Seniors must make a concerted effort to stay involved and engaged.

A community lifestyle like Primrose of Washington affords amenities and activities that support continued participation and involvement. The community has indoor gathering spaces, workout rooms and game rooms in which to meet. Life enrichment activities include organized trips to scenic locations like Pine Valley and Zion that offer welcome relief from the heat…….READ MORE




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