Pandemic Planning: Creating a Schedule

December 15, 2020

By Stacy Leatherwood Cannon, M.D.
Henry Ford Health System

With coronavirus continuing to grab headlines and physical distancing orders still in place, every day tends to feel the same.

More parents than ever are working from home, have reduced hours or may even be out of work due to the pandemic. Those who are working at full capacity may feel the strain of trying to balance work and childcare. Many schools and extracurricular programs have been moved online or canceled.

With both parents and kids feeling the stress of new daily routines, it's more important than ever to create a schedule that all family members can follow.

Staying On Schedule

When schedules are off (particularly sleep schedules), children and teens may be at greater risk for depression and anxiety. Younger children may act out because they have increased energy with no outlet. The good news: Creating a schedule — and sticking with it — can help everyone feel more grounded.

Children thrive with an understanding of the daily routine. Knowing what to expect and what they need to do reduces anxiety and helps kids feel more in control.

A few ways to achieve an effective schedule:

• Make it a family affair: Instead of drawing up a schedule and expecting everyone to stick to it, involve your children in the process. Call a family meeting where you come up with sleep and waking times, mealtimes and breaks. Kids are more likely to embrace a new schedule if they played a hand in creating it.

• Enforce bedtime: Children doing remote learning may not have to rise as early to make it to school on time. Even so, it's important to set a regular bedtime so they can remain on task during daylight hours. Your best bet: Establish a bedtime routine that includes calming activities (like a bath and reading) and ensure your children go to bed at an appropriate hour. School-aged kids should get about 9 to 10 hours of sleep each night.

• Stick to mealtimes: Keeping mealtime consistent allows for a structured break where kids and parents can reconnect and troubleshoot when necessary. This is especially important with older adolescents who may work independently during the school day. Unfortunately, what works for one family member may not work for another. Ideally, families should work together to establish mealtimes, then adjust based on each individual's needs and assignments.

• Encourage breaks: Kids and adults alike become zombie-like after sitting in front of a screen for extended periods. For children who are distance learning, frequent breaks are especially important. The younger the child is, the more breaks they need to stay engaged. That said, even older kids should take breaks every 30 minutes or so to walk around, get a snack and do some simple stretches. Better yet, take your breaks together and do some jumping jacks or share a snack as a family.

Successful Scheduling

Coming up with an effective schedule that the whole family can follow is not something you do at the last minute. Plan for the week ahead over the weekend. Sit down as a family and discuss what worked — and what didn't — the previous week. Then tweak as necessary.

Most important, be patient. These are unprecedented times for all of us. And while we have months of experience dealing with this pandemic, transitioning back to school has brought new challenges.

Try to shift your focus toward the perks of this experience. This is a rare moment in history when families can come together and spend a lot of quality time together. It could be a time of growth and transformation for your whole family.

Concerned about how your children are managing the pandemic? Help is available. To find a doctor or pediatrician at Henry Ford, visit or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).

Stacy Leatherwood Cannon, M.D., is a board-certified pediatrician and the physician champion for childhood wellness for Henry Ford LiveWell. She sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Centers in midtown Detroit and Sterling Heights. Learn more about Dr. Leatherwood Cannon

PHOTO: Novi's Abigail Pheiffer, a senior on the MHSAA Student Advisory Council, gets in some wall sits during a break in her day. 

Symptoms of a Meniscus Tear — and When to Seek Treatment

April 2, 2024

Meniscus tears are not one size fits all: Sometimes they cause no pain, other times they’re excruciating.

Henry Ford HealthOnce in a while they heal or adapt on their own, but more often than not they require physical therapy or surgery.    

“Your meniscus is a fiber elastic cartilage that acts as a shock absorber for the knee,” says Ahmad Bazzi, M.D., a sports medicine physician at Henry Ford Health. “It also helps stabilize the knee joint. But when it tears — which can occur in young athletes after a pivot injury or in older people who have arthritis — it can be painful.”

Here, Dr. Bazzi shares symptoms of a meniscus tear and when to see a doctor. 

What Does A Meniscus Tear Feel Like?

Depending upon the level of injury and type of tear, meniscus tears can either be asymptomatic or cause symptoms like:

  • Locking. When the meniscus tears, a piece of it might move into the knee joint, causing mechanical issues like stiffness and locking of the knee joint.
  • Catching or clicking. This often feels like a sudden ‘click’ in the knee joint, where it suddenly gives out while you’re walking or doing certain movements. 
  • Localized pain on the inner or outer part of the knee. In young athletes, a meniscus tear often causes an impaired range of motion and localized pain on the inner or outer part of the knee. 
  • Pain and swelling. In older people, a meniscus tear often causes swelling and an overall aching pain in the knee.  

Treatment Options For Meniscus Tears

A meniscus tear can only heal on its own if the tear is on the outer part of the knee where it has better access to blood supply. If you’re experiencing pain a few days after injury and you have limited range of motion, instability and/or swelling in the knee, Dr. Bazzi recommends seeing a doctor to get an examination and, if needed, an MRI for diagnosis. 

“It’s hard to tell what type of meniscus tear you have if you haven’t seen a doctor,” says Dr. Bazzi. “If you have a mechanically unstable tear and it goes untreated, it could lead to worsening range of motion and stiffness, or worsening arthritis. It’s important to get seen by a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and the proper treatment. It may take one to three months for a full recovery.”     

Here, Dr. Bazzi shares treatment options:


If someone is having mechanical symptoms like locking or catching, surgery may be considered right away, especially if it’s an athlete younger than 40 years old. “Meniscus tear surgery has a shorter recovery compared to other knee surgeries,” says Dr. Bazzi. “Surgery could either consist of a meniscectomy, which is partial or complete removal of the meniscus, or sometimes just a meniscus repair.”  

Hyaluronic acid or cortisone injections

Non-operative treatments are often recommended for older people who have degenerative tears due to arthritis. “This is because meniscus surgery doesn’t often relieve their pain since they have underlying arthritis, meaning they have cartilage loss in the meniscus,” says Dr. Bazzi. 

Instead, a cortisone injection, which is an anti-inflammatory medication that can be injected into the knee, can reduce inflammation, swelling and pain caused by arthritis.

A hyaluronic acid injection may also be considered, which adds cushioning in the knee. “Hyaluronic acid is one of the substances that make up our cartilage, so this injection helps us mimic the lost cartilage,” says Dr. Bazzi. “It also has anti-inflammatory properties.” 

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is another great option, especially for older people who need non-operative treatment options. It can help the knee adapt to the tear, reduce pain and encourage full range of motion. “Physical therapy for meniscus tears focuses on balance exercises and exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee,” says Dr. Bazzi. “This helps to uphold the knee joint to achieve full range of motion and strength while being pain-free.” 

To find a sports medicine provider at Henry Ford Health, visit or call 313-651-1969.

Reviewed by Ahmad Bazzi, M.D., a sports medicine physician who sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Center – Fairlane.