Normal Never Sounded So Good!
Last Thursday I had the pleasure of assisting Susanne Raye, our Director of Junior School, by escorting three of our Grade 4 students down to UBC's Faculty of Sciences. Aberdeen Hall and a number of other local schools worked with parents and the UBC faculty to facilitate participation in an adolescent brain blood flow experiment. I was really looking forward to learning more about this field of research.
What an interesting and enjoyable experience! For starters, I was amused by the walk to UBC itself. I had forgotten that an 8-year olds' youthful exuberance prohibits them from walking in a straight line. There also appears to be a natural attraction to the top of roadside curbs, boulders, puddles and mud. However, after we mucked around a little, we made it down there safe and sound.
As we entered UBC's Pediatric Exercise Research Lab, in the Centre for Heart, Lung and Vascular Health, we were greeted by a number of friendly grad students and professors. The experiment was designed to measure the regulation of adolescent cranial blood flow while at rest, as well as, during moderate exercise. The researchers were using a transcranial doplar ultrasound image system. (This procedure is not intrusive and considered very safe with virtually no side effects or risk.)
As I was learning more about the testing and discussing details with one of the PhD researchers, he made a comment that really resonated with me as I made my way back to Aberdeen Hall with our students.
"We are lacking data on normal, healthy children"
Then it occurred to me - isn't this amazing! We are so very fortunate to be able to provide test subjects that are normal and healthy children?
This is truly a blessing and something that we should never ever take for granted. I felt a sense of gratefulness in the fact that we were helping in a small way.
Just about all of the data on record for this type of blood flow is from children that have experienced severe head trauma, or are suffering from disease. The researchers are severely lacking data on normal, healthy children. They require this research to gain "a better reference for understanding the impact and management of brain blood flow in children with head trauma." The study is also exploring "whether there are sex differences in the brain's ability to regulate blood flow in children and adults."
Did you know that human brain blood flow peaks "at 6 years of age, and then declines slowly to reach adult values by the end of adolescence?" Incredible!
Just about every one of our students at Aberdeen Hall is a 'normal, healthy child,' and that is a wonderful thing. Occasionally, I have a (sad) meeting in my office with parents when I am told that this is not the case, and that one of our students has been touched by tragedy or disease. Thank goodness for everyone, that these meetings are very rare.
Of the few tough meetings of this nature that I have been involved with, I have been both inspired and moved by the courage, grace and strength of those involved.
With warmest regards,
Head of School
(The quoted excerpts in this article are from the information provided by Dr. Ali McManus PhD, and UBC's School of Health and Exercise.)