Monday, April 30, 2012

Stephanie Pruitt---Guest Post!!

This is Donna---Stephanie Pruitt is the author of the book The Truth About Tummy Time.  Her book has been reviewed on this blog, and I highly recommend it.  I'm honored to have her blog here!
It is always a pleasure to work with other professionals on a shared interest.  Thank you, Donna, for the opportunity to post this guest blog on your site. 
In working with parents for the last several years, I am always shocked to hear one say “The doctor told me this would just go away.”  In terms of torticollis (shortened neck muscles) and plagiocephaly (flattening of the skull), this cannot be further from the truth.  Both conditions can and will get worse if nothing is done to correct the situation. 
Although torticollis and plagiocephaly have a number of things that cause them, the most common cause we see today is positional related.  What this means is the baby spends a disproportionate amount of time in one position throughout the day.  This can be long hours spent in car seats, swings or bouncers or always being placed in the same position when laid down to sleep.  These conditions have become much more common since the advent of the Back to Sleep campaign as most parents always place babies on their backs and rarely place babies on their stomachs even to play. 
If left untreated, torticollis can lead to a number of difficulties for the baby as he or she grows Some of these include scoliosis, shoulder alignment problems, muscle imbalance of the neck and back resulting in developmental delay or compensatory movements to accomplish movement goals- developmental milestones.  The eyes can also be affected if the baby is unable to turn his or her head to one direction or if the head is tilted to one side.  The brain will reset the horizontal for this tilted view of the world which can then lead to balance challenges.  Lastly, a baby can experience facial and ear deformity as a result of the abnormal muscle pull on the face and side of the head. 
Studies have shown that untreated plagiocephaly can lead to long-term problems such as subtle brain dysfunction which present as language disorders, learning disabilities, and attention deficits when a child reaches school age.  This may be due to “compression in certain areas of the brain” during growth in the first year.* It is estimated that 40% of children with untreated, persistent plagiocephaly require additional services such as special education, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech language pathology.  Plagiocephaly can also cause facial deformity due to the disproportionate forces on the head. 
While torticollis and plagiocephaly are treatable, the best treatment is prevention.  Placing your baby in a variety of positions- tummy, on each side as well as on the back- will ensure balanced muscle development and head rounding.  If you are concerned about a head tilt or the shape of your baby’s head, ask for a referral to a pediatric physical therapist to assist you in treatment.  
For further information about Torticollis and Plagiocephaly or to read more about The Truth About Tummy Time A Parent’s Guide to SIDS, the Back to Sleep program, Car Seats and More visit or follow the blog at  

Stephanie J. Pruitt, PT
Director of Pediatric Physical Therapy at Eagle Rehab, Madison, AL
Author of The Truth About Tummy Time

*Miller, R., S. K. Clarren. Long-Term Developmental Outcomes in Patients with Deformational Plagiocephaly 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Let the Scoreboard Do the Talking!

If you've ever heard me speak (if you haven't, email me and let's see what we can do to arrange a presentation for your group) or you know me very well, you know that I love FOOTBALL.  I proudly wear my FOOTBALL MOM brooch (thank you, Teresa Michelsen) with my blinged-out football shirt and earrings.  Watching my sons play football is one of my favorite things ON EARTH to do----I've even been known to watch practice just to feed my craving.  Besides the fact that Texas High School Football has no peer in the world, and Plano Senior High School has the winningest record in the state over the last 50 years----there is one thing about high school football that I love best.  It has taught my sons and me so much about life. It's true.  There are countless lessons about life that I've learned on the sidelines or at a booster club meeting---important, good lessons.  And it is one of those lessons I'd like to share today.  And YES, this is really applicable to brain development. 

Let the Scoreboard Do the Talking---Some football players are well known for "trash talking".  This is where they try to get inside the head of their opponents by saying "less than complimentery" things to and about them.  Certain teams are known to "talk a lot of trash", which means they say things about your family heritage, about about much they're going to beat you by, about how stupid you are, about how slow and clumsy you are, etc.  My sons have been taught by good coaches to "let the scoreboard do the talking."  While I must confess they are not completely innocent of ever talking a little trash, they usually stay out of that mess.  They don't respond much when someone else starts it with them.  If they just MUST respond, they'll usually say, "Scoreboard" (especially if we are winning).  
Let the Scoreboard Do the Talking is the modern-day football equivalent of judging the tree by the fruit.  In other words, "Talk all you want to, we're going to beat you where it matters---on the scoreboard."

I find a LOT of wisdom in this approach.  This keeps the player focused on his job on that football field---whatever that job may be---which contributes to winning the game.  It keeps the subject, the REAL subject---we're all here to score the most points and win the game, not discuss your opinion of my <insert whatever topic the opposition has chosen here.>  It's important to note that you can insert a host of different topics in the above sentence because if you are on the opposing team, they will find SOMETHING to harass you about.

I did promise this would relate to brain development and now I will keep that promise---I get comments and sometimes frantic phone calls from parents who have friends and/or family that harass them about the program they are doing for their child's brain.  The concerned parties want to see research or "proof" that the program works.  They can think of many reasons why the program is such a bad idea---it's not proven, it takes up your whole day, your social life is suffering, you are too involved with your child, your child isn't getting enough socialization, your child may resent the program you've chosen, etc. etc. etc.  While I admit the comments are well-intentioned, to me they are about the same as trash talking.  They are not helping you achieve your goal for your child.  They are distracting you from something you have found to be important for your child to truly succeed.  They are taking up time that could <should> be better spent doing something pro-active for your child's progress and/or your family.  

So I suggest the best response might be "Scoreboard".  Just like the football game, we're all here in the game, and we all have to make decisions about the best plays to run to win the game with whatever situation we currently have.  Let's just let everybody play the game the way they think is best, and we'll let the scoreboard do the talking.  When your child is reading well, succeeding in school, physically coordinated and doing well socially, then that is the scoreboard.  You just keep on doing the program (running the plays) and scoring at every opportunity.  If you stay the course, you will win.  And, interestingly enough, that is usually when the trash talking ends.  Accomplish your goals for/with your children, and the negative talk goes away.

Huddle up, and get your plays set---the job of the evaluation and progress reports---then just do it.  Do it with every bit of energy and heart you have.  Football players who are "less than enthusiastic" don't win---and you'll win a lot better and faster if you do it with some gusto!

Keep track of your child's successes along the way---scoring is no fun without a scoreboard.  And be sure to dust off the proverbial pom poms and celebrate each and every point toward your goal.  Just like the football players are revved up by the roar of the crowd and music of the band, your children are motivated by your sincere praise and by racking up those victories.  And we ALL love to celebrate a WIN!

If you know of a child who is struggling, please consider inviting their parents to read the information on .  Even the best of coaches learn from other coaches, and perhaps we could teach you a play or two that would make the ultimate difference in the scoreboard!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Book Review: Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs

I am beginning the book review with the disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Simon & Schuster.  I am reviewing the book with no further remuneration.  In fact, I am going to give away my free copy to a random winner chosen from those who subscribe to this blog.  So, really, I'm not getting anything for free at all since I am giving away the book---except the distinct pleasure of reading this delightful book.  

This was the first book by A.J. Jacobs that I've read (I will definitely read others now), and as I was reading, I was surprised by the number of people in random places who would stop me and comment, "Is that the same guy who wrote (insert one of his previous titles) . . .?"  It seems Mr. Jacobs is a well-known author that I have somehow missed---until now.

The premise of Drop Dead Healthy is that the author is going to spend his time and resources to figure out which of all the "it's good for you" claims are really true.  He sometimes devotes an entire month to learn about optimal health for a specific body part---like his heart, his brain, his stomach (twice), his butt, etc.  He does a lot of research and reads scientific studies about his "body part of the month", and what the latest new medical advances say he should do.

A.J. Jacobs is very practical in his approach----for example, he says he only does interval training sessions (HIIT) once a week because the science behind them is still a little shaky and they make him nauseous!  I also appreciate his wife's comments throughout the process---sometimes she even joins him in whatever he is focusing on at the time.

Some of the approaches he tries are:
The Paleo diet
Running barefoot
Increasing his hours of sleep
Setting up his workstation on the treadmill
Neti pot
Obssessive hand washing
Disinfecting household items (phones, remotes, etc)
Counting chewing per bite

Some of them are hilarious, some are common sense.  His descriptions are always funny, yet thought provoking.

This book was an enjoyable read and it did get me thinking about my health.  I read portions out loud to my husband and he is going to read it next.  Any health book that my husband will read gets five stars from me!  

Soooooooo, everyone who is a subscriber to this blog will be entered into a random drawing for the twice-read copy of Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs.  You'll laugh and ponder at the same time---which is a good thing!

And keep track of what's going on with me at ---we're always adding something new!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Air Purifiers---Expert Guest Post--Bruce Colbert

Bruce Colbert is an amazing dad who wanted to do everything possible to help his son---and clean air is certainly part of that equation.  Bruce spent countless hours doing the research (honestly, we all know we should do it, but no one wants to---including me!), and he shares the results of that research on his website.  I'm honored and delighted to have Bruce give us a little taste of what is available to us on his site!  He is generously sharing his vast knowledge and will even take questions! Without further adieu---I give you Bruce Colbert!

Here's the story about how "just a dad" went research-crazy on air purifiers to [finally] come up with some common sense air cleaning recommendations, which I readily share with you today

We lived in an 1890 built home with a wet basement; two indoor pets mixed in.  Elijah, my adopted son, who had suffered brain injury in-utero, constantly walked around with a thick mucous running from his nose. 

His lungs were overloaded trying to deal with mold and other allergens.  When we don't breathe well, less life-giving oxygen makes it into our system.  Critical for all of us…

…absolutely essential for brain injured children to thrive.

At the time, I knew nothing about air purification, so I dove in to find the best air purifier, and boy, the pool was deep.  Combine the existence of many types of technologies with the difficulty of measuring actual results via the naked eye (you don't usually see less particles)…

…scams breed like rabbits, and some of the best air purifiers get lost in the shuffle.

I was able to find the best air purifier for our situation, and it boils down to this: 

The best air purifer will:

--clean the air the best (quality of air)
--while cleaning a lot of that clean air (quanitity of air)
--while having the best secondary features (cost, build quality, particular needs of the family, etc.)

You might express it as a formula:

(quality of air) x (quantity of air cleaned) + (best secondary features) = best air purifier.

Where The Trouble Starts:

Most trouble starts with understanding what technology actually cleans the air, (quality) and making sure that technology is really present in the air purifier selected. 

(Marketers are good at taking advantage of this...Oreck air purifiers being one of the best at marketing while delivering almost worthless, sometimes even dangerous air cleaners)

The absolute bare minimum needed for good performance on the "quality" end: 

--A filter that works at least at true HEPA quality for filtering dust, pollen, and other particle based pollutants
--and ample charcoal-based filtering to filter out harmful volatile organic compounds, typically in gas form.

Putting it all together:

Is your head spinning from all this information?  I understand.  Mine still does, and I'm a bootstrap-expert in the field.

Don't stress it...

...If you can take the basic understanding I've presented here, and consult with a trustworthy source (may I humbly suggest my own you'll easily come away with a winner for your child, and even the rest of your family to breath better, live better.

If you're looking for specific brand recommendations, I invite readers over to to take a look, and for a limited time, will even take questions on specifics at

I'm a Guest Poster!

I recently came upon a fantastic book, "The Truth About Tummy Time", by Stephanie Pruitt.  I've written a review of that book on this blog.  Mrs. Pruitt also has a blog---which I HIGHLY recommend you follow.  She is GREAT at providing more research data and progress at making this message available to new parents.  I was privileged to write a guest post for her blog, and you can read it here.  While you're reading my post, don't forget to "follow" the "About Tummy Time" blog!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Book Review: The Truth About Tummy Time

I don't know which of the following I want to say first:
At last . . . .
Amen and Halelujah!
I told you so!
Please listen!
I think I will settle for all of the above!  

Author, Stephanie Pruitt, is a physical therapist and the mother of three sons.  She began to question some of the advice given to her during the infancy of her first child when he developed some conditions that required intervention.  She did her research, and combined with her experience, she began to blow away the fog of professional advice given to young mothers.

Stephanie gives us a good foundation of physical development milestones of infants from a PT perspective----PLUS the added bonus of appropriate respect for reflexes.  She explains in everyday terms the importance of these things and the potential consequences of the lack of tummy time.  Stephanie makes the subject understandable but doesn't condescend---artfully done!  She recommends some good preventative measures to avoid plagiocephaly and other consequences of insufficient time in the prone position.

SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is correctly defined, and the statistics are explained and put into their appropriate context---this one item alone makes the book worth its weight in gold! 

Below are some of my favorite excerpts from the book:

There is a direct relationship between the amount of physical activity engaged in and whether a child will meet motor milestones on schedule. (I feel another AMEN coming on!)

...many reflexes can only be accessed from the prone position.  In other words, they require that the baby be placed on his stomach to utilize them.

It is possible that there may not be a single cause of sudden infant death syndrome, but rather, many different causes.  As researchers are learning more by investigating infants who died unexpectedly, we are possibly getting closer to explaining most if not all sudden infant deaths.

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) policy statement reveals that because of this change in infant mortality diagnostics, the "true SIDS rate" since 1999 may remain the same. (This is VERY significant because many pediatricians teach their patients that SIDS was reduced by 53% because of the advent of the "back to sleep" campaign.  Mrs. Pruitt goes into much more depth to explain the real meaning behind the statistics.)

Since the inception of the Back to Sleep program, the incidence of torticollis has increased by 84%.

The incidence of plagiocephaly has increased by 48% since the introduction of the Back to Sleep program.

Parents have told me that the doctor assured them the head deformation will go away on its own over time. This cannot be further from the truth.  Plagiocephaly will not resolve by itself if nothing changes about the way the infant is cared for.  If he continues to lie in the favored position, the plagiocephaly---and torticollis---will get worse.

I recommend this book and will be giving it as a baby gift when I am invited to showers.  Stephanie Pruitt has done the world a great service by writing The Truth About Tummy Time.