March 22 is Brain Injury Awareness Day. We spoke with our expert, Dr. Margo Lauterbach, director of The Concussion Clinic, part of The Neuropsychiatry Program at Sheppard Pratt, to learn about some of the ways you can work to prevent brain injury. Here’s what Dr. Lauterbach had to say:

How to Prevent Brain Injury in Children: 

  • Ensure your child always wears a helmet. Fortunately, helmets are available for most contact and high-risk sports, including football, hockey, horseback riding, biking, and skiing. Even if the sport your child is playing doesn’t have a specific helmet, it’s always safest to use a basic helmet if there’s the potential for your child to fall or get knocked around. Before engaging in play, make sure you know what type of protection your helmet should provide, and give your helmet a check. The CDC has tips for fit and functionality for different types of helmets. Forbush_Hunt_Valley_playground_5_TT_copy.JPG
  • Play safe on the playground. Before allowing your child free rein on the monkey bars and on the slide, take stock of which structures and toys on the playground are appropriate for their age and size. Only allow your child to play on a playground that has a soft material on the ground for them...

Parents love to talk and brag about their children. And with the ease and popularity of social media, the bragging and sharing happens at an even greater level. My newsfeed is constantly flooded with sports posts, first day of school pictures, homecoming photos, and any other random “proud parent” moments. 

Bryce_and_Dog.JPGBut what do you post when your child is not the shining star or social butterfly? What do you do when your kid is struggling? Do you post about your child who is not able to get out of bed and go to school because they are too depressed to get up each morning?  Do you post the soccer picture of your daughter who was benched because she was too thin and sick to play due to an eating disorder? Do you even say anything at all to your friends and family? 

There is no right answer to these questions. Whether or not you talk about your children and their mental health is a personal choice. I have chosen to speak openly about my family’s experience with mental illness. I write a blog. I speak at events. I openly tell people that my son Bryce has severe mental illness and autism. It often comes up when people ask where he goes to school, or what activities he participates in, so I...

Imagine waking up one day and experiencing pain or an impairment that you can’t explain. Now imagine spending months seeing multiple doctors, spending hours of time researching symptoms—and still coming up with no answer. For the 30 million Americans with rare diseases, this is an all too common reality that takes a toll on both physical and mental health.

rdd-logo-2.gifWe sat down with Dr. Margo Lauterbach, director of The Concussion Clinic, part of The Neuropsychiatry Program at Sheppard Pratt, to discuss her work with patients and families impacted by rare diseases and the importance of Rare Disease Day, which takes place each year on the last day in February.

What is a rare disease?

In the U.S., a rare disease is classified as a disease impacting fewer than 200,000 people in the nation. Today, there are approximately 7,000 diseases and disorders that are considered to be ‘rare.’ Altogether, rare diseases impact 1 in 10 Americans—and more than half of those impacted are children.

People with rare diseases face many challenges. It can be difficult to find a diagnosis, and many struggle with misdiagnosis. Even when diagnosed, 95% of these individuals find their disease has no...

valentines_day_blog.jpgValentine's Day is a particularly tricky and potentially painful holiday for singles because it has become so focused on romantic love, celebrating the glory of being coupled with another. February comes bursting with red hearts, candies, cards, flowers, teddy bears, name it, it's out there for purchase in celebration of February 14. This can leave those without partners feeling left out in the February cold, emphasizing their single status.

Below, you’ll find a few tips to enjoy Valentine’s Day, no matter your relationship status:

  1. If you are single or alone and dreading Valentine's Day, remind yourself that a joyful and satisfying life requires much more than a romantic partner by your side. Accepting this does not mean you don't want to find true love or that you like being single, but while you are unattached, focusing on the good people and relationships in your life NOW is key. Try to focus on who you have as opposed to who is lacking in your life. Feeling connected through authentic relationships of all types is the key to combating loneliness. This is true on Valentine's Day and every other day of the year. 
  2. Remember, Valentine's Day can be a celebration...

Split, the recently released horror movie directed by M. Night Shyamalan, adds to a long list of media depictions—Three Faces of Eve, Psycho, Dressed to Kill, United States of Tara, Shutter Island, and many others—where plots hinge on dramatic portrayals of “multiple personalities” that bear little resemblance to reality. Though meant to entertain, these portrayals increase stigma for individuals living with a serious mental health condition, dissociative identity disorder (DID). And with Split being the top movie at the box offices for three weeks running, this inaccurate portrayal and accompanying stigma is becoming increasingly widespread.

Whether or not you plan to see the movie, you should know that lurid fictional stories about DID harm those who actually suffer from the disorder. Split adds to the burden of stigma for people with DID, many of whom face fear, disbelief, and derision when others, influenced by media inaccuracies, learn of their condition.  

Unfortunately, like much of the public, many mental health professionals also learn what they know about DID from popular media. As movies like Split depict a cartoonish portrayal of DID,  misunderstandings about the...

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