Scripps Tips - January 2011

A monthly list of story ideas for journalists

Scripps Expert Offers Advice to Avoid Youth Sports Injuries & Burnout; Little League Sign-ups Now Under Way
Little League Baseball sign-ups are now beginning around the county. While taking part in youth sports can improve fitness and social skills, there are potential drawbacks. Even if well-intentioned, the pressure to succeed at a young age can set the stage for physical overuse injuries, emotional stress and burnout. These pitfalls can often be averted if parents and coaches understand how kids develop their athletic abilities. “Children build sports skills in a progressive sequence that we can’t dramatically speed up,” says Dr. Paul Stricker, a Scripps Clinic sports medicine pediatrician. Dr. Stricker says parents and coaches need to better understand kids’ three core developmental processes – physical, intellectual and emotional. To start, Dr. Stricker offers a sampling of physical sports skill milestones that are important to keep in mind:

  • Ages 2 to 5: Most kids can’t yet effectively throw and catch (due to incomplete development of the brain’s vision centers);
  • Ages 6 to 9: The body’s nerve connections start doing a better job of communicating the brain’s messages to the muscles;
  • Pre-adolescence (age 10 to puberty): Control of body motions becomes more automatic; kids can refine skills like pivoting, turning and spinning;
  • Puberty (usually ages 11-13 for girls; 13-15 for boys): Due to rapid physical growth, there may be a temporary decline in balance skills and body control;
  • Mid to late teens: More aerobic gains are achievable with training; heavy weights should be avoided until the skeleton fully matures.

To arrange an interview with Dr. Stricker, please contact Steve Carpowich at 858-678-7183 or

San Diego Hidden Gem: Tour of Sculpture Gardens on Hospital Campus
You don’t have to be ill to come to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla – this month you can also come for the art. The volunteer services department will be hosting a docent-guided tour on Jan. 19 of the 31 sculptures that make up the hospital’s Wolfstein Sculpture Park. Included is a tour of the dozen “trees” that have been replanted from the Port of San Diego’s Urban Trees exhibitions – the annual display of works along downtown’s Embarcadero. These Urban Trees now call the hospital campus home thanks to the generosity of Ralyn and Nathan Wolfstein, who founded the park in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary. The free guided tour of Wolfstein Sculpture Park will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 19, at 11:30 a.m. at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. Contact Lisa Ohmstede at or 858-626-7142 for more information.

Latest Approaches to Easing Side Effects of Cancer Treatments will be Focus of Free Jan. 25 Educational Program
San Diegans will learn the latest strategies for treating cancer treatment side effects at a free program Tuesday, Jan. 25, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla. “Managing Symptoms of Cancer Treatment: Body, Mind and Spirit” will provide information on alternative and traditional approaches to easing symptoms caused by chemotherapy and radiation therapy. More than 11.7 million people in the United States are living with some form of cancer, and more than half of them undergo chemotherapy or radiation as part of their treatments. Many options are available to help ease side effects from these therapies, including prescription medications, nutritional supplements, acupuncture, yoga, massage and various mind-body therapies. For interviews with Scripps physicians on this topic, please contact Steve Carpowich at 858-678-7183 or

Cold and Flu Prevention Tips and Advice
One hand can harbor 150 bacterial species, according to a 2008 study by Noah Fierer and colleagues. With the start of a new year comes colder weather, more time spent indoors and an increased chance to catch a cold or the flu. Scripps epidemiologists are available to discuss the importance of getting the flu shot, when to stay home and how to avoid spreading the cold or flu. These experts also can share tips about how to decrease your risk of getting sick, the most important of which is regular and thorough hand washing. Using a black light and glo germ, they can demonstrate what areas are most commonly missed during the hand washing process. For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Kristin Reinhardt at 619-686-3787 or

Red Wine & Dark Chocolate Can Reduce Cardiac Risks
Studies exploring the benefits of dark chocolate and red wine continue to show that consumption of the two in moderation can reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. These are just a couple of the lifestyle choices that Scripps cardiologist Matthew Lucks, M.D., will address in his upcoming talk on how to maintain a healthy heart. This free event will take place on Thursday, Feb. 24, at 6 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Schaetzel Center at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. To cover this event, or to book Dr. Lucks as an in-studio guest, please contact Lisa Ohmstede at 858-626-7142 or

25 Tips for Sober Living
As anyone who has been through it themselves or with a loved one knows, getting – and staying – sober is no small feat. It takes strength, determination and dedication to live a life of sobriety. The staff at the Scripps McDonald Center has compiled a list of tips and valuable tools to stay on track for those committed to sober living. For more information, please contact Lisa Ohmstede at 858-626-7142 or

British Study Linking Vaccines to Autism Has Been Retracted; Scripps Pediatrician Available for Comment
Researcher Dr. Andrew Wakefield published a study in 1998 in the Lancet that claimed to identify a link between the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) and autism. After its publication, more cases of measles were reported in the United States in 2008 than in any other year since 1997, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 90 percent of those infected had not been vaccinated or their vaccination status was unknown, the CDC reported. The study has been widely discredited for the lack of controls, the linking of three common conditions and the reliance on parental recall. Scripps Pediatrician Nicole Gorton is available for comment. To arrange an interview, please contact Rachel Lichterman at or 858-678-7348.