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The CDC estimates that one in 59 kids in the United States suffers from autism, or autism spectrum disorder. A common question always up for debate about this condition is what link, if any, is there between diet and autism?

While each child’s case is unique and should be viewed as such, the growing amount of research on food and its effects on autism could be helpful in their treatment.

But, how do you know what might work and what doesn’t? Should you take away certain foods, or add others?

Plenty of parents have claimed elimination diets cutting out foods with gluten (including wheat and rye) or casein (dairy and milk products) have been successful in helping their child. Another popular diet right now is the “Specific Carbohydrate Diet,” where certain carbohydrates, sugars, and even vegetables are avoided.

Experts say that while there is no definitive research that shows these diets have an effect one way or another on autism, “parents know their children and tendencies best,” explained Dr. Dilip Karnik, pediatric neurologist at Child Neurology Consultants of Austin. “If you believe something is working for you, then you should continue to go with it.”

When trying a new diet for your autistic child, here are some suggestions to make it easier on you both:

1.       Work with your regular physician and other professionals.

Seek help from a registered dietician first before cutting out something that could have valuable nutrients for your child or adding something that may interfere with certain medications. Nutritional deficiencies can be even more harmful than the autistic traits themselves that you’re trying to curb.

2.       Set realistic goals.

Remember that there is currently no cure for autism, so do not expect any diet or food to magically and completely make it go away. Also, be aware of when something is having little to no effect on your child, and be willing to move on.

3.       Be patient.

Remember that the average kiddo may take a dozen or more times to warm up to a new food, so an autistic child with certain apprehensions may take twice as long. Practice patience with your child (and yourself) as you are embarking on a new therapeutic food journey.

For questions about autism in young children or teenagers, please contact Child Neurology Consultants for an appointment with one of our board-certified pediatric specialists.

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Summer is just around the corner, and amusement parks are calling.

While riding a roller coaster is a total thrill for teenagers and even young kids, it’s sheer terror for others. The rush of endorphins surrounding an experience like this triggers excitement for many, but it can also bring on anxiety (in the rider’s parents too) … perhaps about the fear of heights, falling out, or getting hurt.

Getting hurt is a valid concern when strapped into a roller coaster. One part of the body that gets jostled around more than you’d think is the brain.

Could these super-fast, and whiplash-inducing thrill rides cause concussions, or some other type of brain damage in kids?

Child Neurology Consultants' Dr. Kate Labiner recently commented on this for popular media outlet Romper.com about what happens to a child’s brain when riding a roller coaster. "There is nothing about a roller coaster in itself which is dangerous to the developing brain. However, there are many reports of children, and even adults, getting concussions from riding on roller coasters."

While the rates of concussion are very low (according to the CDC), it is something to be aware of if your children or teens ride one. Dr. Labiner says, “the large roller coasters, with lots of high altitudes, back and forth motions, or jerky movements, are the more ‘risky’ roller coasters due to the potential for whiplash injuries which can lead to a concussion."

If your child complains of a headache or mentions any other pain after an amusement park ride, take notes on their behavior, and then seek medical help if the pain doesn’t subside right away – especially if involving the head or neck.

For questions or concerns about concussions in your child or teenager, please contact us to make an appointment with one of our pediatric neurology specialists.

The complete article featuring Dr. Labiner can be found here.

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Effective immediately, Child Neurology Consultants of Austin is reinstated as an in-network provider with United Healthcare (UHC). This means that all patients with a UHC plan will not have their care interrupted. Our staff will contact patient families April 22 – 25 to reschedule appointments that may have been canceled.

We are immensely pleased that UHC has recognized the investments we’ve made to improve access and convenience to quality pediatric neurological care and the importance in having this care available to you and other families around Central Texas.

This agreement could not have been achieved without your calls to UHC. Thank you on behalf of all of the doctors and staff at Child Neurology Consultants of Austin. 
Sincerely, 
Dr. Jeffrey Kane

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Stunning scenery, majestic wildlife, and eternally-grateful patients—it never gets tiring. Dr. Karen Keough, board-certified child neurologist and neurophysiologist with Child Neurology Consultants of Austin, recently returned from her fifth trip to Kenya with HEAL Kenya and Ubuntu Life.

For the second time, her son, Seth Richards, a Social Worker, went along to help with the work on their busy days in clinic.   Two seasoned pediatricians also participated for return visits, Dr. Sharon Lockhart and Dr. Lynn Campbell.

Dr. Keough has been a part of HEAL Kenya since Dr. Jeffrey Kane and Beth Haidi, a nurse from DCMC, first proposed the idea in 2012.  Teams of physicians, nurses, and volunteers with all sorts of other skills have participated in trips multiple times each year ever since then, providing care to a growing group of patients in the same small towns, and conducting educational lectures for Kenyan patients, parents, and healthcare providers.

“These communities do not have MRIs, EEGs, laboratories with testing capabilities or even running water. The need for specialty care is enormous,” explained Dr. Keough.

Their mission was not only to treat patients but also to train local healthcare professionals on how to continue with medical care once the group leaves.

The doctors worked in the towns of Maai Mahiu and Thigio, examining, diagnosing, and carefully treating each patient who had come from near and very far — some even waiting hours to be seen. The majority of treatment centered on those suffering from epilepsy and seizures, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, developmental delay, and migraines.

Over the five days, the team treated 238 patients.

“We are always so honored to meet and get to know the amazing people of Kenya through our medical mission work,” said Dr. Keough.

Dr. Keough isn’t the only physician or staff member from Child Neurology Consultants of Austin to visit Kenya. In the past, Dr. Jeffrey Kane, Dr. Lindsay Elton, Dr. Michael Reardon, and NP Toshia McKeon have also joined the HEAL Kenya team.

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More than 4,100 of our patients with Commercial and Medicaid United Healthcare Plans will no longer be in-network as of May 1, 2019. Here is a copy of the letter sent to our families.

We worked very hard over the last nine months to avoid a termination of services and UHC has made no attempt to work with us to resolve our contract differences. We understand that this is not just an inconvenience to you, it is an interruption in your child’s healthcare and we will continue to work toward finding a solution with UHC.

In the past year, we took big steps to improve patient access and convenience to quality neurological care. A few examples of our recent steps include:

  • Hiring three new pediatric neurologists and a part-time pediatric rheumatologist
  • Opening a new clinic more conveniently located for patients who live south of Austin
  • Opening a pediatric infusion center (the only one in the region) and launching “in-home” EEG testing allowing children to access these services conveniently and outside a hospital setting

Most health plans have supported our efforts. UHC has not. And by not partnering with us, more than 4100 children are in jeopardy of losing their pediatric neurologist.

If you’re upset like we are, you can help! Contact UHC using the phone number on the back of your card or call UHC Employer Health Care at (866) 414-1959 or UHC Texas at (800) 393-0993 to express your concern. If you purchase your insurance through an employer, speak with the Human Resources Department at your company and have them advocate on your behalf, too. 

We sincerely appreciate you trusting us with your most important asset — your child’s health — and will do everything we can to avoid having their care interrupted.

Sincerely,
Your CNCA Physicians and Staff 


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We love hearing from our patients. They are our inspiration. They are the reason we do what we do. We are amazed at their accomplishments and the dedicated families that cheer them on.

Kody is one of those examples — someone who simply leaves us awe-struck by his determination. Here is a note from his mom. (The picture put a huge smile on Dr. Karen Keough’s face.)

Kody, you make us #DreamBig.

Kody was born with severe myoclonic epilepsy and had over 100 seizures per day. He has suffered severe developmental delays, right-sided hemi-paresis, and has been diagnosed with autism. We thought he would never be able to enjoy the quality of life the rest of us enjoy. Yet, with the help of God, family and our amazing team of neurologists, namely, Dr. Karen Keough, Kody has had the opportunity to do things we never dreamed possible. He has endured multiple brain surgeries, several VNS implant surgeries, and a multitude of medication trials and has persevered.

Kody's seizures are now reduced mostly to two to three small tremors daily. He is able to participate in Special Olympics bowling, Special Olympics basketball, and most recently, a 5K at Disney World in Florida. Kody refused to ride in his transporter chair during the race. He said, "I won't ride until I get my medal."

Kody is now 19 years old and has the cognitive ability of a 4-year-old child. None the less, he is stronger than us all and inspires us daily. He really is proof that he doesn't have a disability, he just does things differently.

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Pop Warner youth football will look a little different when kids return to the field this September. The organization has called to end the traditional three-point stance in an effort to curb head injuries and concussions among young players.

The position of placing hands on the ground and lowering the head in anticipation of snapping the ball will no longer be allowed. The belief is that this position puts the head in a vulnerable spot where it can easily be knocked around by another player or knocked into the ground. 

This ruling will affect kids in the youngest age groups --Tiny Mite (5 to 7 years old), Mitey Mite (7 to 9 years old), and Junior Pee Wee (8 to 10 years old).

Concussions and the potential long-term effects caused by traumatic brain injuries are a serious concern for football organizations. Research shows these injuries may lead to serious medical conditions including chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE—a form of dementia due to damaged brain tissue.

Efforts to protect young players’ brains are being ramped up all over the country.

Child Neurology Consultants of Austin’s board-certified neurologist Dr. Kate Labiner recently commented on the new stance guidelines for a story on Spectrum News. "Those small hits that happen over and over that do not necessarily cause one big, obvious injury, are the ones that long term we are more worried about," says Dr. Labiner.

She further adds that, "I don't believe kids need to stop playing football. What I want is for kids to play in the safest and healthiest way possible. That's for football and all other contact sports."

In addition to eliminating the three-point stance, Pop Warner is also doing away with the kickoff in the Pee Wee division to cut down on tackling at high speeds.

You can view the full story featuring Dr. Labiner on Spectrum News right here.

Child Neurology Consultants of Austin treats children and teenagers of all ages with neurologic conditions throughout Central Texas. If you have concerns about your child’s risk of concussion in sports, please contact us for an appointment with one of our board-certified child neurologists.

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We are still in the thick of flu season, and although the outbreak this year is not as severe as last, it’s still something you’ll want to watch out for if you have a special needs child.  Kids with special needs can develop very serious complications when their immunity is compromised-- even by a simple cold or case of the flu.

The most obvious way to know your child is coming down with something is when they tell you that they don’t feel well. But if your child is non-verbal, how do you know? Are they extra sleepy or fussy? Not eating?

You know your child best, so follow your gut if you feel that something is off with them and look out for these five clues that likely indicate illness:

1.            Vomiting or diarrhea

2.            Fever

3.            Difficulty breathing

4.            Extreme drowsiness or irritability

5.            Change in appetite

If any of these symptoms last more than 24 hours, see your physician right away. If your doctor suspects the flu, an antiviral medication can be prescribed to help lessen the effects—but only if taken immediately.

While your child is resting and recovering, remember to still keep whatever modes of communication they usually use at their disposable—such as letter boards or other electronic devices.

Neurologic conditions that may cause a child to be non-verbal include epilepsy, cerebral palsy, learning and developmental disorders, or traumatic brain injuries.

Child Neurology Consultants of Austin treats children and teenagers of all ages with neurologic conditions throughout Central Texas. If you have concerns about your child and their risk of flu complications, please contact us for an appointment with one of our board-certified child neurologists.

(Adapted from Healthline.com)

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A new study suggests that excessive video gaming could contribute to ADHD symptoms.

With the popularity of video games, especially Fortnite, at an all-time high among kids, parents may want to start paying attention to the amount of gaming going on at home.

Research recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that kids linked to excessive screen time—in particular playing video games—showed ADHD-like symptoms during a two-year follow-up period.

Here’s how the study was conducted:

•             More than 2,500 teens were evaluated who did not at the start of the study show any symptoms of ADHD.

•             They were then followed over two years in regard to digital media use (specifics on media use time were not revealed), and their behavior was rated in terms of inattentiveness or hyperactivity, common ADHD symptoms.

•             Those claiming the most time spent on digital media exhibited the greatest ADHD-like symptoms.

Kids with ADHD are drawn to the repetition and routine of logging on and visiting the same characters and similar missions they are tasked with completing during each game.

Experts say this doesn’t mean you should completely ban video games, but setting limits for gaming and all screen time is a good idea.

“Establishing media-free zones in the house that apply to all in the family, as well as designated times when children can access media can help monitor gaming activity,” says Child Neurology Consultants’ Dr. Dilip Karnik. “Another good practice is to permit gaming or electronic device use as a reward only after household chores, homework or an important task are completed.”

A few positive aspects of online gaming include improved hand-eye coordination, use of problem-solving skills, and social interaction as kids are often required to work with others towards a common goal. 

(Adapted from Healthline.com)

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Child Neurology Consultants of Austin is thrilled to have two of our board-certified child neurologists named to Austin Monthly magazine’s Top Doctors list for 2019.

They are…Dr. Jeffrey Kane and Dr. Karen Keough!

Congratulations to the duo for this prestigious recognition from our local, hometown medical community.

Dr. Kane is the managing director of Child Neurology Consultants of Austin and founded the practice in 2016. In addition to treating patients, Dr. Kane is an active volunteer participating regularly in medical mission trips to Kenya to provide medical assistance for those in need. 

Dr. Karen Keough is one of our certified epileptologists, specializing in refractory epilepsy. She initiated the Child Neurology Residency program at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin and maintains a faculty appointment as Assistant Professor. She also founded and functions as co-director of the Comprehensive Tuberous Sclerosis Clinic in Austin. Additionally, Dr. Keough serves as the Chief Medical Officer for Compassionate Cultivation, an Austin-based company licensed to grow, process and dispense cannabidiol medicine. Dr. Keough also loves to volunteer and is heading to Kenya on a medical mission trip in February.

The Top Doctors list is compiled annually by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., covering a wide variety of specialties from rheumatology to oncology.

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