Health Story Ideas For Holidays, Winter Months

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
Health Story Ideas For Holidays, Winter Months

Looking for a heart-warming story about a young mother who is now able to pick up her son after spinal surgery or a young woman who overcame cancer with the help of music therapy? How about ideas for healthy yet economical gifts? You’ve come to the right place.

Reporters, producers and editors, here is our holiday gift to you: Story ideas that relate to the holidays, and some evergreen ideas that can help you fill the newspaper or broadcast during the slow-news month ahead.

Surgery creates usable tongue for cancer patient

Before her surgery for tongue cancer, a U-M patient recorded messages to her toddler son so that she would be able to say “how was your day” to him, even if the surgery left her without the ability to speak. But with the help of a reconstructed tongue, she retained the ability to speak, and her son can hear her voice coming from her—not just from a recording.

Healthier meals for Thanksgiving and December holidays

A U-M registered dietitian has created a meal plan that adds up to 789 calories instead of 1,540 for a typical holiday meal. The plan allows you to eat many of the foods you normally would, with just a few slight modifications.

Spinal surgery allows young mom to pick up son

A 50-degree curvature in her spine prevented a young mother from picking up her son. After an experimental, minimally invasive spinal scoliosis surgery at U-M, she is standing straighter and able to run and play with her son—and to pick him up.

Healthy, economical gift ideas

For many Americans, gift-giving this holiday season may provide some special challenges, due to our tough economy. University of Michigan Family Medicine physician Caroline Richardson, M.D., offers some suggestions for healthy gifts that won’t over-burden your wallet. Homemade soup mixes, a membership to a community farm and scented tea bags are just a few of her ideas.

Music helps to heal cancer patients

Music is known to “soothe the savage beast.” Can it also soothe those mired in the grief, confusion and pain of cancer diagnosis and treatment? The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center is using music therapy to help heal patients’ spirits, as well as their bodies. One young woman found the therapy particularly soothing and inspirational—to the point that she wrote a song and recorded it professionally.


Avoiding financial stresses during the holidays

With the economic crisis looming on our doorsteps, the holidays can be an especially difficult time. The pressures of providing for family and friends during this time can bring about a lot of unwanted stresses. Sandra Finkel, MPH, manager of Stress Management Services and the Executive Health Program at the U-M Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Domino Farms, suggests several different ways to avoid stress during these demanding times.

Finkel’s suggestions include investing in feeling good, taking time to reflect on what is important and accepting whatever actually happens in your life. Finkel says we should focus on what is important because in today’s society, because it is easy to get carried away with others’ wishes and expectations. She suggests that people “replace ‘I have to’ with ‘I choose to’ and consciously choose how you spend your energy and resources based on what you’ve determined is important.”

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 of 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.

Mott teddy bears are the perfect holiday gift

This holiday season, the Chelsea Teddy Bear Co. has created a special teddy bear to benefit the patients and families at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Women’s Hospital. The 12-inch-tall bear sells for $16 and wears a shirt that says “M Go Blue for Mott.” In addition to retail locations throughout the area, the Mott Community Relations office at the hospital (1500 E. Medical Center Dr., room F2519) will be selling bears and accepting donated Mott Holiday Bears to give to patients in the hospital during the holiday season.

U-M’s ‘holiday elves’ celebrate 10 years of giving

In the weeks leading up to the holidays, University of Michigan Health System employees, volunteers and friends will work together to provide stockings for patients receiving chemotherapy at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. Approximately 80 elves will participate in the annual stocking stuffing event, marking the project’s 10th anniversary. As chemotherapy patients are seated for treatment, they receive one of the hand-made stockings filled with a variety of items, from art supplies to herbal teas. This year, 700 stockings will be delivered: 600 to adults and 100 to children.

In 1999, “Chief Elf” Susan Blaisdell started the stocking stuffing tradition after one of her co-workers was diagnosed with cancer and needed a distraction from treatment. At the completion of this year, the stocking project will have reached 4,800 patients.

Simulating surgery

Simulators have been relied on for training astronauts, pilots and the military for years, and increasingly they are being used as learning tools for doctors. At the University of Michigan Medical School Clinical Simulation Center, nurses, surgeons and other medical professionals are trained using various medical and surgical simulators, including mannequin-based patient simulators that can be programmed to seize, go into cardiac arrest or deliver a baby.

Simple precautions lead to an injury-free winter season

As the winter season closes in, so does the risk for winter-related injury. These risks can be greatly decreased by taking some precautionary measures when the cold weather hits. Jeffery S. Desmond, M.D., director of operations in the UMHS Emergency Department, suggests some easy ways to remain out of the emergency room and injury-free during the winter season.