Summertime has almost arrived. Time to fill up the water-guns, and light the camp-fires. But, before you take off on your summer adventures, make sure you carve out some time to take care of yourself physically and mentally and Take Control of Their Health!
Get your teenagers and pre-teens involved in learning the importance of being physically and mentally healthy and the importance that the two play in succession. Without one you simply can’t have the other. Making healthy decisions about mental stimuli, what you eat and drink, how active you are, and how much sleep you get is a great place to start.
Mental Stimuli. Education can be an afterthought amidst summer fun, but neglect can lead to brain drain – the learning loss that results during summer recess. Research shows that students scored lower on tests at the end of the summer compared to when they took the same test before summer commenced. The good news is that creating healthy habits can prevent this.
One study found that kids and young adults who spend a lot of time on TV and video games were twice as likely to suffer from attention disorders. “Anything that affects attention affects learning,” says Victoria Dunckley, an integrative child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist and author of Reset Your Child’s Brain.
Technological Devices. Studies link heavy computer and cell phone use to more sleep disturbances. University of Gothenburg psychologist Sara Thomée, one study’s lead researcher, says the blue light from digital devices suppresses the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, keeping us from having restful sleep. This constant behavior can cause posture issues with long term affects.
Vision. Staring into a screen (computer or cell phone) for extended periods of time can cause “computer vision syndrome.” You’re probably familiar with the symptoms: strained, dry eyes, blurred vision, and headaches. Poor posture can also cause neck and shoulder pain “Tech Neck.”
Self-confidence. More time watching videos or other content on digital devices means less time exploring and creating their own experiences, stories, or art. “I think the key to develop self-competence and self-confidence is creating,” qualities important for healthy relationships and overall well-being, according to research by Dr. Duston.
Addiction and reward seeking. Dopamine, the “feel-good hormone,” is part of the brain’s pleasure and reward circuits. Playing video games turns on similar brain regions as those linked to cravings for drugs. The same goes for social media — every time we see a new post or get a reaction to ours, it’s like a hit of brain candy.
Overall health. Most of the time we’re on our screens, we’re sitting down. Sitting for hours at a time boosts the risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer. One study found that spending more than four hours a day in front of a computer or TV more than doubles your likelihood of dying or being hospitalized for heart disease — and exercise won’t reduce the risk. Weight and overall health. Just like in adults, watching two or more hours of TV is linked to weight gain in this age group. Studies have also noted higher cholesterol and blood pressure in kids who watch more TV.
I would like to focus on something that affects us all. Posture / Kyphosis. Kyphosis is a condition affecting the back. It makes the back rounded so it looks hunched over. The main signs of kyphosis are: A rounded, hunched back. Sometimes the rounding is hard to see. Other times it’s more noticeable. Some teens can’t straighten their curve by standing up and some cannot. The signs of kyphosis often become obvious during the growth spurt that happens around puberty. This condition can cause a number of short-term and long-term health issues and overall pain.
- Congenital kyphosis: This means someone is born with it. Even though it has been there since birth, sometimes it isn’t noticed until a teen has done a lot of growing.
- Postural kyphosis:Teens who slouch over a lot can develop a rounded back (almost everyone of our kids on either phones or ipads) because the muscles and bones get used to being hunched over. Teens with this type of kyphosis can straighten their curve by standing up straight, however we all know how difficult that one task is for our teenagers.
- Scheuermann’s kyphosis:Viewed from the side, normal vertebrae look like stacked rectangles. In Scheuermann’s kyphosis, the vertebrae are triangles, or wedge shaped. This makes the spine hunch forward. Kids with this kind of kyphosis aren’t able to straighten their curve by standing up straight and need the help of a chiropractor.
Observation. This means routine checkups to make sure the rounding isn’t starting to cause problems. Treatment might not be needed, but in some cases it is crucial.
Back brace. Sometimes specialists recommend a back brace. This brace is like a jacket that can be worn under clothes. It won’t straighten the curve, but for some kids and teens it could keep the curve from getting worse. Some wear the brace only at night while others might wear it for 18–20 hours a day. The brace is usually worn until someone stops growing.
Chiropractic & Physical Therapy. Spinal adjustments help to reduce or eliminate the increase in kyphosis. Exercises can be prescribed that strengthen the muscles in the back and abdomen to better support the spine and what would be considered a normal mid back curvature.
Surgery. Surgery isn’t usually needed. But doctors might recommend a procedure called a spinal fusion for a severe case that causes pain.
The common theme across age groups: More screen time means less time for activities that are good for your health and well-being. The most important question to ask yourself is, “What is screen time displacing?” Hill says. “Is it displacing sleep, communicating with each other as a family, exploring the world and exercising?”
I urge you to look at the link below from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney diseases. Make it a family event and teach your children healthy habits and the importance to approach their health at 360-degree wellness perspective.
The American Posture Institute has put together an in-depth study of the damaging effects of electronic device usage and the development of Tech Neck, Postural Kyphosis, and Digital Dementia in children and young adults. If interested, please check out the following link to the summit:
If you or someone you know has back pain or notices a rounded upper back, call our office for an appointment at 940-497-3147, so that we can provide you a consultation on best ways to move forward naturally alleviating the need for surgery, in most cases.