Children's science museum exhibit gets high marks from parent

Posted: Monday, November 29, 2004

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) A trip to a children's science museum proved to be a day of discovery for a 5-year-old boy and his mother, who discovered a possible heart condition in the child while checking out an exhibit.

The Rhythm of Life exhibit at the WonderLab hands-on museum allows two people to sit on either side of a bass drum and grasp a horizontal metal bar. Brass sensors detect each person's pulse, which triggers a drumstick to beat in time with the person's heart.

Melissa Hinkle noticed that her drumstick was beating about 80 times per minute, while her son's peaked at 150 times per minute. The average heart rate for a child his age is 100.

Later that day she called the boy's pediatrician who made adjustments in Harrison's medication for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

But, a few days later the child began vomiting.

''Under normal circumstances I would have just assumed he was sick,'' Hinkle told The Herald-Times recently. ''But because of what we'd seen at WonderLab, I decided to take his pulse.''

When she did, it was 224 beats per minute. Hinkle whisked her son to the hospital emergency department.

An electrocardiogram confirmed he had an elevated heart rate, so cardiologists gave him a heart rate monitor that he wears round-the-clock.

Dr. Richard Malone, the boy's pediatrician, said abnormal heart rates can be triggered by a number of causes such as fever, exercise, dehydration or anxiety. He said the condition is often successfully treated.

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