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Aspiring football player Caleb Seymour dreams about playing for the New England Patriots. He idolizes Tom Brady and will be wearing his #12 jersey on Super Bowl Sunday. Three years ago, when Caleb was 8-years old, he forged a different bond with his hero. Caleb, like Brady, tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) playing football.
Caleb’s parents, Lisa and Michael Seymour of Holden, Maine, brought their son to Boston Children’s Hospital, where Mininder Kocher, MD, MPH, associate director of the sports medicine division, reconstructed Caleb’s torn ligament in November 2011.
But Caleb faced a long road—recovering from an ACL injury is a six-to-nine month process. It meant no football. It was tough to sit on the sidelines, says Caleb.
But Caleb got some special advice about rehabilitating his knee and preventing future ACL tears during a surprise visit from Tom Brady himself.
“He was so nice to me and motivated me to keep working hard on my knee and keep playing football,” says Caleb. “I know he will motivate his team to do good and WIN!!!”
Now, Caleb hopes to return the favor with some advice for other young athletes.
Just shy of her second birthday, Violet is ready to move on to the next chapter of her life. Her face has inspired hundreds of thousands of Facebook likes and shares. The New York Times feature about her has captivated the world. The video series about her medical journey has gone viral.
But these images and words tell a tiny part of Violet’s story. Behind the dramatic medical case is a toddler with an impish grin, delightful belly laugh and (mostly) quiet determination.
Before Violet was born, doctors told her parents, Alicia and Matt, that their twin daughters had a rare craniofacial defect called an encephalocele. Determined to do everything they could for their unborn children, the Oregon couple found an encephalocele support group. The group led them to Mary Gundrum, whose son Dominic was born with a defect like Violet’s.
A few months after he was born in 2012, Dominic’s family brought him to Boston Children’s Hospital, where a team of surgeons, led by John Meara, MD, DMD, plastic surgeon-in-chief, repaired his encephalocele and Tessier cleft—a gap in the bones of his face.
Learning about Dominic’s successful surgery gave Alicia and Matt hope, and they clung to it. They contacted Meara, and he reassured them that he could help their daughter. He became a fixture in the family’s life, touching base regularly to review Violet’s ultrasound and MRI images and determine the best path forward for Violet.
“It felt like he saw Violet the way we saw Violet. Her well-being was as important to him as it was to us,” says Alicia.
If you’re the parent of a child plagued with frequent ear infections, an iPhone otoscope that lets you peek into her ears to capture a video of her eardrum and share the images with her doctor may sound like just the gadget you need.
The CellScope, the iPhone otoscope mentioned above, and the Pacif-i, a Bluetooth pacifier that takes a baby’s temperature, were on display at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this month. The Las Vegas-based annual trade fair, a weeklong playdate for gadgetphiles, included a host of devices designed to make it easier for parents to track their kids’ health.
Do you need an iPhone otoscope? Will a sneak peek at your daughter’s eardrum translate into better or faster care for your toddler? Is your child’s pediatrician ready to view home video of your daughter’s eardrum? Probably not, at least for now.
There is some value in the devices, especially if your child has a chronic issue, according to Michael Docktor, MD, Boston Children’s Hospital’s clinical director of innovation and director of clinical mobile solutions. Docktor was on hand at CES to check out the hundreds of health and biotech gadgets on display at this year’s show. “For me, it was a chance to see where medicine and health care are headed,” Docktor wrote on BetaBoston.
But the gadget fest offers more of a sneak peek at the future of care, rather than a new way to diagnose and treat sick kids.
Before she had children, Marcie was terrified by vaccines, including the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. At the time, she worked in early intervention, coordinating services for parents of special-needs preschoolers. “Many of them believed their kids got sick or showed signs of a developmental delay after being vaccinated,” she recalls. “It made perfect sense, and I had no reason to doubt their beliefs.”
Her fears solidified after reading anti-vaccine books, and she vowed to avoid vaccinating her own children. After her first son was born, however, Marcie and her husband agreed to compromise on his vaccines. They looked for a pediatrician who understood her fears and would help them devise a modified approach to vaccination, including a staggered MMR vaccine.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Family Physicians all recommend children receive the MMR vaccine at age 12-15 months, and again at 4-6 years.
The MMR vaccine is typically given as a single shot. But Marcie, her husband and her pediatrician agreed to separate the MMR vaccine into three components and immunize the couple’s two sons against measles first, then mumps, then rubella. (This separated version of the MMR vaccine is no longer commercially available in the United States.)
Fast forward to adolescence. Marcie’s older son was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, which meant he could no longer get a live vaccine. (A live vaccine contains a weakened virus that causes a harmless infection in the vaccinated person with very few, if any, symptoms. The person’s immune system fights the infection caused by these weakened viruses, and immunity develops which lasts throughout that person’s life.)
“If we hadn’t vaccinated our sons, we would be completely dependent on herd immunity. I’m so glad we vaccinated our boys,” she says.