Inside Gillette Blog

Ask The Expert: Sleep Health

Posted On: 05/24/2012

The Sleep Health Clinic at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare is dedicated to meeting the needs of children, teens, and young adults who have disabilities. Our clinic offers comprehensive, family-focused care in a facility that is specially designed for children with complex conditions. Sleep disorders disproportionately affect children who have cerebral palsy, craniofacial conditions, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, epilepsy, and other neurologic conditions. Often, these children may already have health issues that can be further complicated by sleep problems. Our pediatric sleep physicians work closely with families to resolve sleep disorders and achieve a better night’s rest.

Sleep Study Room at Gillette

On our Facebook page, we asked you to submit your sleep health questions for Dr. John Garcia to answer. You can read the questions and answers below. As always, we recommend you consult with your health care provider.

Q.What kind of affects can sleep apnea and obstructive breathing have on a child if it has gone untreated for many years? This child is not trached yet but is finally being treated at the age of 11. Can it affect other organs in her body?

A. I address this problem by systems. Untreated OS can cause difficulties with attention and can also lead to daytime sleepiness. If there is a history of seizures, it can make the seizures harder to control. From a pulmonary point of view, I can see increased incidence of pneumonia. Acutely untreated OSA can lead to sedation associated respiratory compromise. OSA can cause reflux. Untreated OSA can lead to right heart strain though this is quite rare. Untreated OSA can lead to metabolic diseases including insulin resistance, obesity, and lipid abnormalities.

Q. Some parents have wondered what to do about night terrors. Can Dr. Garcia provide some tips? 

A. Night terrors are a subcategory of parsomanias which including sleepwalking, confusional arousals, and bed wetting. People who sleep too deeply are at increased risk for parasomnias. Good sleep hygiene is key to preventing night terrors. This means regular wake and bed times, predictable nap opportunities and a controlled sleep environment. If these episodes are occurring more than three times a week or are associated with injury then a sleep consultation is an option. Safety precautions including bells or buzzers on a child’s door and outside doors are another option.

Q. I have a sleep question. My son was born with congenital cytomegalovirus and he use to sleep good. Well the doc just diagnosed him with autism. He can go all day w/o a nap and go to bed at 8:00 pm and be back up by 11:00pm ready to go and is non stop until 3:00 am when he falls asleep again until 12:00 pm. I need help and sleep. I have tried to switch his sleeping around but he still is on the go. Please help.

A. About 86% of children with Autism have a sleep disorder, often insomnia. A sleep doctor would be a great place to start, who may recommend a trial of melatonin.

Q. Possible sleep apnea in a 13 year old boy with Downs. We haven’t been able to do a successful sleep test to determine if it is indeed sleep apnea. Any suggestions? 

A sleep consultation should help to sort out whether a sleep study is needed. If there are symptoms consistent with OSA but a polysomnogram is not feasible, then overnight oximetry may help determine whether there is an associated severe oxygen desaturation. There are non-CPAP treatments available as well such as high flow if a 13 year old will not tolerate a CPAP


Dr. John Garcia

A board-certified sleep specialist, John Garcia, M.D., works with Gillette patients who have disabilities and associated sleep disorders. Such disorders include obstructive sleep apnea, sleepwalking, circadian rhythm disorders, and restless legs syndrome. He uses a combination of behavior management, medications, surgery and other therapies in his practice.

Dr. Garcia is a graduate of the University of Iowa School of Medicine. He completed a residency in pediatrics and one year of fellowship training in behavioral/developmental pediatrics at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Ind. He then completed a sleep fellowship equivalent at the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Minneapolis. Dr. Garcia holds clinics at Gillette’s main campus in St. Paul and at the Burnsville Clinic.

His professional associations include the American Board of Sleep Medicine and the American Board of Pediatrics.


Win-It Wednesday

Posted On: 05/22/2012

Win-It Wednesday: Do you recognize this place at Gillette? Leave a comment with your best guess and we’ll choose someone at random to receive an “I Love Gillette” t-shirt! Remember, you must comment below for a chance to win!

Costco raises over $15,000 in 9 Days for Children’s Miracle Network!

Posted On: 05/20/2012

Did know that Gillette is the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in Minnesota? Costcoin St. Louis Park, a CMN Sponsor, built a castle for kids and raised over $15,000 in 9 days alone! In addition to the castle, employees are having a garage sale, an outdoor BBQ, ice cream sales and more. Way to go Costco!

Costco Castle for Children's Miracle Network!

Win-It Wednesday!

Posted On: 05/15/2012

Win-It Wednesday: Do you recognize this place at Gillette? Leave a comment with your best guess and we’ll choose someone at random to receive an “I Love Gillette” t-shirt! Remember, you must comment below for a chance to win!

An Airplane Trip With Your Special Needs Child?

Posted On: 05/14/2012

An Airplane Trip With Your Special Needs Child?

By Shalleen Nelson

I did it, and so can you!  I am a proud mom to 5-year-old Sebastian, a longtime Gillette patient, who was born with Down syndrome and neurological issues. I’m also mother to Francesco, Sebastian’s typically-developing twin brother.

Sebastian loves to discover new places! Fortunately for our family, travel has become a smooth process with practice and preparation. Have a question for me? Please leave it in the “Comments” section below!  I’ll continue to share advice on vacationing, from camping trips to hotel stays, in the months to come.  I’ll begin by sharing my “Top Tips” on fun, and safe, airplane travel.

Before Boarding

  • Check-in online and print your boarding passes from home.
  • Request to change your seating arrangements if necessary. You can do this before security at the check-in counter, or by speaking with an agent at the gate.
  • Alert the gate agent of your special needs, and ask to be boarded first.
  • Take direct flights (no layovers!) if possible, and aim for 3 hours maximum air time.

At Security

  • There is always a handicap security line – just ask!
  • Did you know children can leave their shoes on when going through security?
  • Children in wheelchairs can often remain in their chair, so be sure to ask.
  • You may bring more than the allotted carry-on fluid if it’s clearly labeled as a liquid medication for your child. Consider a physician’s note, in case of questions.

In the Air

  • Keep drinks and snacks handy to help with cabin pressure changes during take-off and landing. Swallowing and chewing will help ease eardrum pain.
  • Bring several options for entertainment – books, music, or a portable DVD with headphones – to keep your child busy.

Above all, remember to RELAX, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that you’re in no rush. You’ll be at your destination before you know it!

“The New Normal” Our Lives Have Become

Posted On: 05/13/2012

Today is Mother’s Day. A day when millions of moms wake up and feel grateful for their children, whether they are normally-developing or living with a disability.  Yesterday, we shared one mother’s essay, Welcome to Holland, describing the experience of parenting a special needs child.  Today, we’re sharing the perspective of a mom whose journey to Holland happened in one terrifying and life-altering instant.

“When my son was born I counted fingers and toes, and was happy to get the all clear from his doctor,” recalls Robbi, mom to 10-year-old Ian.  Then, one summer day in 2009, Robbi’s world turned upside down. While walking home from swimming lessons with his older brother, Ian was struck by a car. “My sweet, gentle boy was lying in a hospital bed with a traumatic brain injury, says Robbi. “We were told that he would remain in a vegetative state for the rest of his life. I felt like Alice, falling down the rabbit hole.”

When Ian came to Gillette for rehabilitation, Robbi describes her state of hopelessness beginning to shift. “In my complete darkness, Ian’s nurse, Tiffany, walks in with a huge smile, sits next to me as if we were old friends and begins telling me about Ian’s new schedule which included meals, baths, school and therapy. I truly felt as if someone had turned on a light and opened the door.”

Soon, Ian’s recovery defied expectations. “He quickly learned to swallow, and soon he could talk. He was coming back to me,” says Robbi. Today, she says it would be difficult for a stranger to tell he nearly died from a severe brain injury.

“Ian still struggles with some lingering deficits and needs continued therapy,” recognizes Robbi. “Gillette gave me my son back, and gave me the tools to deal with the new normal that our lives have become.”

Meet Jessica Brunotte, Nurse at Gillette!

Posted On: 05/13/2012

Q. What are some of your hobbies outside work?

A. Gardening, Reading, Playing Volleyball

Q. Do you have any children or pets?

A. 3 kids Matt (14 y.o.) Jada (13 y.o) and Sean (9 y.o.).  2 dogs Nico and Jax

Q. What is your favorite book and food?

A. Fettuccine Alfredo

Meet Jessica Brunotte, Nurse at Gillette!

Q. If you could travel anywhere where would you go?

A. Ireland

Q. What was your favorite subject in school?

A. Science

Q. What is your favorite type of music or band?

A. U2

Q. What do you enjoy most about your job at Gillette?

A. Getting to know my patients and their families

Welcome to Holland

Posted On: 05/11/2012

Mothers of children with disabilities are sometimes asked, by parents of normally-developing children, what parenting is like. As we continue celebrating special needs moms this Mother’s Day weekend, we’re sharing one mother’s personal essay on her journey to Holland.  As you reflect and share, we encourage you to also join Gillette’s campaign to Cure Pity by pledging to make the world a more hopeful, welcoming place special needs kids.

Welcome to Holland

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

(c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved)


“They Tell Me ‘Can’t’ and I Hear ‘I Dare You’”

Posted On: 05/10/2012

 “They Tell Me ‘Can’t’ and I Hear ‘I Dare You’”

What does Mother’s Day mean?  For many, it’s a thoughtful card, a bouquet of flowers, or a celebratory brunch. But for mothers of children with disabilities, it’s an opportunity to reflect on a one-of-a-kind parenting journey. It’s a journey fraught with challenges, to be sure—but more importantly, one filled with extraordinary rewards and small miracles.  As we share Mother’s Day stories in the days ahead, we invite you to share your own—and to sign our Pledge to Cure Pity at By signing, you’ll join our movement to show the world all that children with disabilities can achieve.

“Each day brings struggles but also laughter, smiles, and always miracles……always,” says Autumn, mother to 7-year-old Kevin, who was born with a severe form of spina bifida.  “In the early years, my life was filled with doctors while other moms were at Mommy & Me groups.  They were waiting for their baby’s first word, while I was waiting for mine to look me in the eye or sit up. These things came in time, and each was a miracle,” says Autumn.

Soon, Autumn discovered that Kevin had inherited her love of music and rhythm. “His first words were not spoken, they were sung. His love of music has opened a portion of his brain that should technically not be functioning. Am I proud?  Yes.  Am I surprised?  No. For everything he can’t do, look at what he can.”
Autumn says she doesn’t yet know what Kevin’s purpose in this world will be—but she knows how much he’s irrevocably changed her own world. “My role is filled with a clarity and purpose that most moms could only hope for,” she says. “Special needs moms aren’t rock stars, we are rocks.  People use the term ‘limitations’ and we hear ‘limitless’.  They tell me ‘can’t’ and I hear ‘I dare you.’”

Girls and Sports Related Concussions

Posted On: 05/08/2012

In sports played by both sexes, girls are reporting nearly twice as many concussions. This story was aired on NBC Today this morning and Dr. Angela Sinner, pediatric rehabilitation physician at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare shares her comments.

Watch the video here: Girls and Sports Related Concussions

Angela Sinner, D.O.

Dr. Angela Sinner’s comment: This story shows real female student/athletes and their challenges with concussions. Two of the girls illustrate atypical, though real, outcomes following concussions. They experience long-term effects: nausea, headaches, light sensitivity, and challenges at school.

In the neurotrauma clinic at Gillette, we work hard to help patients heal properly from their concussions through rest after the injury and support as needed. Those are the first steps in attempting to prevent the long-term effects of a concussion and to avoid repeated concussions. We were told that one of these girls sat out for an extended period–the rest of her soccer season–after her first concussion.

Across the country, researchers have work to do to better understand female athletes and their risk of concussion, so we can ensure we manage their conditions optimally.

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