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November 28, 2006

Holiday tip sheet from University of Michigan Health System

List includes holiday-themed story ideas, profiles and features that could run any time, and photo opportunities

ANN ARBOR, MI – It's that time of year when the temperatures drop, the stores are crowded with shoppers, children are labeled as bad or good ... and news stories are increasingly scarce.

Press release imageSince December is a notoriously difficult time to fill up the newspapers and news broadcasts, we've collected numerous story ideas that can be done throughout the next month. Some are holiday-related, some are events and others are evergreen features that can come in handy on a slow news day.

Patient-sized HUMMERS cruise through Mott operating rooms and into surgery
Beginning the week of Dec. 4, patients at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital will be able to arrive in the operating rooms for surgery in style. HUMMER Corp. has donated two child-size ride-on HUMMER vehicles to allow patients to "drive" into surgery. By making the surgical experience more fun for kids, U-M pediatric surgeons and OR staff hope to help ease children's stress, fear and nervousness about surgery. A similar donation was made to a children's hospital in Louisiana, and health care staff there have noted the difference the HUMMERs have made in reducing the amount of stress a child experiences before surgery.

Dec. 6: Mott patients bring art, healing together for new hospital
While the new $523 million C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Women's Hospital is still years away from completion, Mott patients and families, and staff already have plans to be hard at work on Wednesday, Dec. 6, painting special tiles – created by  Detroit-based Pewabic Pottery – for the new hospitals' interior and exterior design.

All of the tiles being decorated on Dec. 6 have been purchased by U-M faculty and staff, patient families, and community members and groups, as part of the fundraising campaign for the new children's and women's hospitals. Nearly 1,400 tiles will be incorporated into the design for the new facility, and hundreds are still available for purchase. Follow this link to learn more about the Pewabic Tile fund-raising project.

Is it holiday stress, seasonal affective disorder or depression?
It's a cruel trick of Mother Nature: the very weeks when holiday preparations and parties are at their peak are the same weeks when we're most at risk of developing seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or even full-blown depression. So, those who think they're just tired from decking the halls, shopping late-night sales and ringing in the New Year might actually be suffering the effects caused by the shortest daylight hours of the year. Lack of sunlight can trigger a drop in our energy levels, constant tiredness, cravings for carbohydrates and grouchiness. Combine this with the demands of the holidays and it's no wonder that some people feel like a Grinch by the end of December! Fortunately, a light-emitting box that you can buy or build can help many people. For those who have a history of depression, this time of year is especially tricky: the seasonal effects can combine with a person's own vulnerability to trigger a new episode of depression. Anyone whose symptoms are present constantly for several weeks should talk to their doctor or other health care provider about whether they might be experiencing depression rather than SAD.

The new victors: Updated versions of U-M Health System’s ads begin airing
The now-familiar music of the U-M Health System’s television ads is back, along with new “victors” who share their stories with viewers. The latest round of the advertising campaign focuses on individual patients whose lives were touched by many people at the hospital. One ad, about a heart transplant patient from Brighton, has begun airing, and another, featuring a teacher from Chelsea, will begin airing in January. Both patients have compelling stories and would make interesting profile subjects.

C.S. Mott Children's Hospital holiday wish list for patients, families
Throughout the year, support from the community makes it possible for C.S. Mott Children's Hospital to provide its patients and families with a host of fun amenities - a mobile library cart, arts and crafts, music, games and other recreational activities for all ages - to make their hospital visit just a little more enjoyable. And the holiday season is no exception. While gift cards and monetary donations make the greatest impact on the health and happiness a of our young patients and their families this holiday season, Mott also has created special holiday "wish lists" at several area stores: Target, WalMart and Toys "R" Us. These lists have been carefully created to meet the personal and medical needs of Mott patients and their families. To learn more about the Mott wish lists, and how you can help the patients and families at Mott this holiday season, follow this link.

Former NFL star’s son tackles nerve disorder with help from U-M doctors
When former NFL great Lomas Brown’s son Trey was born with brachial plexus palsy, a condition that affects the nerves passing from the neck to the arm, the family sought help from a unique multidisciplinary clinic at the University of Michigan. Today, Trey can use his arm for everyday activities, and is even able to throw a football in the yard with his dad. Full story.

Profile idea: U-M expert travels the country to help steer the future of health care IT
Mary Kratz, who leads Academic Information Services for the University of Michigan Medical School Information Services, has taken on a role in a national effort to shape the future of health care in the nation. Kratz’s primary responsibility as an adviser to the director of the U.S. Army Medical Research Material Command, Telemedicine Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), is helping develop the national HealthGrid, a technology infrastructure of shared resources for health care and biomedical research. She also travels worldwide; her work for the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Response takes her to Ethiopia, where she is working on a collaborative project to connect remote health outposts in AIDS-dense areas to medical centers and professionals in urbanized areas.

All I want for Christmas is … a toy with a mute button
From traditional noisemakers like toy guns and musical instruments to talking dolls and animated stuffed animals, many toys today are loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage in children. 

To protect kids’ hearing, a U-M audiologist offers parents some tips for picking toys that are safe for their children’s ears this holiday season. Full story.

Dec. 3: Briarwood Mall to host shopping event to benefit new children's hospital
Just in time for the holidays, Ann Arbor’s Briarwood Mall is inviting the community to shop ‘til they drop from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 3, to support the new University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House of Ann Arbor. For its first “Shop, Share & Care” event, Briarwood Mall is offering shoppers exclusive sales, discounts and free giveaways from many of its 130 retailers. Full story.

A blue Christmas: Spotting the signs of elderly holiday depression
For older adults, winter time and the holidays can bring on a very real case of depression. So when you’re home for the holidays, U-M experts encourage families to keep their eyes and ears open for signs of depression in older relatives, and not be afraid to speak up and reach out. Full story.

Fitness feature story: Capacity for aerobic exercise linked to risk of heart disease
If your New Year’s resolution to exercise is now just a distant memory, there are some rats at the University of Michigan Medical School that may convince you to climb back on the treadmill. Researchers at the U-M Medical School found that rats selected and bred for low aerobic exercise capacity had more cardiovascular disease risk factors than rats bred for high exercise capacity. Rats with low aerobic capacity scored higher on risk factors linked to cardiovascular disease - including high blood pressure and vascular dysfunction. They also had higher levels of blood fat disorders, insulin-resistance and more abdominal fat than rats with a higher capacity for aerobic exercise.

Holiday heartburn: Tasty treats may trigger acid reflux
For the 15 million Americans who experience chronic heartburn, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), the holidays can be especially painful. To help people with heartburn survive the holidays, a U-M expert dishes up some advice to keep your stomach and esophagus merry and acid-free this holiday season. Full story.

U-M expert offers tips for people with diabetes to manage holidays with ease
For the more than 18 million Americans estimated to have diabetes, holiday food, parties, alcohol and stress can make it challenging to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. To help people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes survive the holiday season, a U-M expert offers seven strategies to manage holiday eating and stress with ease. Full story.

Written by Katie Gazella

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