National Pet Month: Is a pet good for your health?

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Around here, we’re big fans of Burton the shop pup! Burton helps us to ensure our medical ID bracelets, necklaces and all our products get sent off to our customers in great shape—he’s been known as the “quality control pup” at times! Not only can a shop pup be important to keeping you feeling less stressed at work, having a pet can also help you stay healthy (even if they aren’t allowed to come to work with you like Burton is!)
Exercise is important, and for many of us, we simply don’t get enough! Having a pet, especially a dog, can be an easy way to motivate yourself to keep active—after all, having those big eyes staring back at you is a pretty easy sell! If you have a medical condition, consider wearing a medical ID bracelet while out and about
For older adults, and those of us with ADHD, routine is important. Pets help keep our minds sharp as we have to care for them, as well as making us stick to a routine, which can make us more productive and be a positive contributor to our mental health and providing a sense of purpose to be responsible for another life.


Finally, pets can lower blood pressure through the act of petting them and giving—and receiving—affection. The difference may be small, but it can make all the difference when trying to stay healthy! Pets also may lower your risk of developing asthma, eczema, or allergies, when introduced to children at a young age—this in particular applies to dogs. [1]  More research is needed, but if you want an excuse to get a dog, this is a pretty good one, right?
Some pets also have special medical needs. Remember that many of our dog tag necklace charms can double as great medical ID pet tags for your pet, so not only can they find their way home if lost, their special medical needs will be attended to as well!

What is Parkinson’s Disease? Parkinson Awareness Week

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Most people have heard of Parkinson’s Disease (or Parkinson Disease), but often, we may know one or two facts about a particular disease or condition, and not a lot else—I know that’s where I stand right now about my Parkinson Disease knowledge!
April 10 to 16 in the UK is Parkinson Awareness Week. April 11 is World Parkinson’s Day, and the 200th anniversary of when Parkinson’s Disease was identified as a medical condition by doctors. [1] In the UK, 127,000 people, or 1 in 500, have Parkinson’s Disease, so while you may not know anybody who has it personally, chances are there will be someone in a friend or family member’s life who will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s. [2]
What is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s Disease is different for each person. It is a neurological disorder, which most often causes movement problems, specifically and most notably causing tremor (shakiness of muscles, most noticeable in arms/hands and legs), rigid (stiff) muscles, and slow movement. [2] Often people with Parkinson’s experience fatigue, body pain, and depression, among other issues. [2]
How is Parkinson’s Treated?
Parkinson’s patients often take medicines, physio and occupational therapies, and sometimes have surgery to help with symptoms. Often, people with Parkinson’s will require carer support as their disease progresses. [2]
Should People with Parkinson’s Disease wear medical ID jewelry?
Absolutely! Depending on how severe tremors are, they may be mistaken by those with little knowledge for seizures. Speech can be impacted, which means it may be difficult for someone with Parkinson’s to communicate their needs in an emergency. [3] As well, people with Parkinson’s may have memory problems, are at increased risk of dementia, hallucinations, anxiety and depression. [3] These are all reasons that make medical ID jewelry important. A necklace may be a better choice for a Parkinson patient, as skin irritation may develop from a bracelet rubbing against the wrist during tremors—if a bracelet is preferred, a sport band may be a good choice.
Learn more.
Parkinson’s UK provides a wealth of easily understood information about Parkinson disease. Consider learning more this week to recognize Parkinson Awareness Week. 

Autism Awareness / Autism Acceptance Day

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April 2nd is Autism Awareness Day, also known as Autism Acceptance Day to autism self-advocates. Autism has in the past been seen as a mysterious developmental condition, but as time goes on, we are learning more and more about what a diagnosis on what is now known as the “autism specWorld Autism Awareness Day trum” really means.
Autism can range wildly form person to person. Some people with autism do not speak, and use other ways to communicate with others, such as pictures, communication devices, sign language, or gestures. Some people with autism may take longer to gain language, but may speak later in life, or they may not. A person’s verbosity is not at all an indicator of their intelligence. Most people with autism are very intelligent, however, not all people with autism are “savants”—those who know an immense amount about a particular subject or have an innate ability to memorize certain things (like having a “calendar in your head”). People with autism may have very specific interests, which may change over the course of their lives, or may remain the same. Most people with autism benefit from and enjoy routine, and these interests are simply a part of their routine. People of all ages with autism may have trouble with sleep, certain environments that are loud, bright or overstimulating, and have very specific food preferences. Anxiety and attention deficit disorder, as well as depression, are common co-existing conditions with autism.
People with autism may take part in a variety of therapies to help them to interact with the world in ways that work for them individually. No two people with autism are alike—some are verbal, some are non-verbal, and like all of us, are all interested in different things and have unique strengths. Many but not all people with autism are sensitive to physical contact, it simply depends on the person. Some people with autism will be able to live completely independently, while others will need assistance with certain aspects of life. “High functioning autism” is a term used to describe those with autism who can, with some accommodation and support, or education, adapt to be independent and self-supporting. Many people with autism are self-advocates, and assist the world in understanding autism how they see it as someone living with the diagnosis (which they often see as a personality trait and not a disorder!). Many adults with autism choose to embrace the title of Autistic rather than “person with autism”—this is a personal choice that should be respected. Person-first language (person with autism) is more “socially correct”, however, I personally have chosen to use person first language until an individual has told me that they prefer being referred to as autistic instead. Go with what the person prefers, and don’t be afraid to ask!
For people with autism, wearing a medical ID bracelet can be important, in case of a stressful emergency situation that makes it difficult to communicate. Adults or children with non-verbal autism should wear a medical ID bracelet stating autism – non-verbal and an emergency contact number, as well as any other medical needs.
I have had the opportunity to coach, work with, and be friends with several people of different ages with autism. There is absolutely no “box” to put people with autism in—just like anyone, people with autism are unique, and it is important to get to know them, while understanding that their autism may be the reason they approach some things differently than others!

Purple Day for Epilepsy: 26 March

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purple ribbon sketch with Purple Day 25/03 written on top

Purple Day for Epilepsy artwork by timeywimeystuff13 on DeviantArt

While seizures can be scary, knowing what you are dealing with can help. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes seizures, and it affects about 1 in 100 people in the UK. [1] A seizure is the result a sudden burst of electrical pulses in the brain which cause muscles to contract and release involuntarily—epilepsy can onset at any age. [2]  While epilepsy can occur after another medical problem—such as a traumatic brain injury, an infection (like meningitis) that affects the brain, or stroke—as well as if a baby is oxygen deprived during birth—about half the time, doctors do not know what causes a person’s epilepsy [1]

It can be scary to witness someone having a seizure. To learn more about what to do if someone you know, or encounter, is having a seizure, check out this link to Epilepsy First Aid from Epilepsy UK. It is most important to ensure the person is safe, and depending on what type of seizure, that they do not injure themselves. Being a source of comfort and providing care while a person comes out of a seizure is also an important role, to alleviate any confusion that they may be experiencing or questions they may have about what happened. There are many different types of seizures, so if you know someone with epilepsy, they may be able to tell you what to look out for, as seizures are not always of the tonic-clonic (formerly known as “grand mal”) type. You can learn more about different types of seizures from the Epilepsy First Aid link above, or from Epilepsy UK’s website.
People with epilepsy usually take medicines to decrease their seizures—sometimes when people do not respond to the medication, they may require surgery on their brain or vagus nerve which has a role in seizures. [1] Mainly for children, a special diet may assist in decreasing the frequency of seizures. [1] this is something that has been helpful for Caitie, a young woman with epilepsy that we interviewed on the US My Identity Doctor blog last year. Be sure to check it out to learn more about how it might affect someone on a personal level.
No matter what type of seizures you have, wearing an epilepsy medical bracelet or necklace can be important. Purple is the colour of epilepsy awareness, and we have lot of purple medical awareness jewelry that can keep you safe and help raise awareness of epilepsy at the same time.  World Purple Day for Epilepsy is March 26, so wear purple to show your support for those living with epilepsy.

World Down Syndrome Day: What an Extra Chromosome Means

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As a coach with Special Olympics, I’m lucky to know a number of kids (and a few adults from other times in my life) who live with Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome [DS] is a genetic condition that results in an extra copy of chromosome 21—for this reason, Dodifferent coloured chromosomeswn Syndrome is sometimes referred to as Trisomy 21—three chromosomes instead of just 2.
In the UK, 1 in 1000 people will be born with Down syndrome. [1] Down syndrome is not a disease, and while it can affect both the body and the brain (primarily the thought processes associated with learning). In the past, people with Down Syndrome did not have as long life expectancies as they do now, but Down Syndrome UK reports that most people with Down Syndrome live to their 50s or 60s, and some even into their 70s. [1]
Each person with Down Syndrome is different, and there is no “personality type” that people with DS automatically have—while people often think people with DS are always happy or smiling, of course this is not always the case! Think of the people around you who do not have DS—the majority of them are probably happy a lot of the time too, aren’t they? People with DS can have decreased intelligence in some cases, but all people with Down Syndrome have strengths that simply need to be brought out—sometimes, people with DS are of average (or above average!) intelligence, which is why it is always important to not make assumptions. People with DS have a characteristic face shape that is round, with somewhat flat facial features and almond-shaped eyes, and are often of short stature and carry more body weight.
People with DS often have abnormally flexible joints and low muscle tone; some people with DS have what is known as “atlanto-axial [joint]l instability” which simply means a joint in his or her neck is unstable because of a loose ligament. In some cases, this may limit some activities a person with DS is able to do, such as gymnastics, diving, stretching, or climbing. For the most part, people with DS or their caregivers will be aware of atlanto-axial instability and what activities may pose more risk for them. Other problems that can result form Down Syndrome include heart defects, hearing loss, and speech problems (once again, likely attributed to muscle tone issues). People with DS may require different surgeries or therapies (such as speech, occupational or physical therapy). Because of other medical issues, a medical ID bracelet or necklace to identify these concerns, such as heart or hearing problems, should be considered..
To learn more about Down Syndrome, check out our interviews on the My Identity Doctor US blog from last year, with Holli and her mom, Brenda, about life with Down Syndrome.
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