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Sommer Scholars

Sapna Kudchadkar

PhD Student, Clinical Investigation

Sapna Kudchadkar knew she wanted to be a physician since she was 10 years old, when her younger brother had an asthma attack so severe that he was admitted to the hospital. She remembers that by the very next day, it was as if the traumatic event had never happened. “He had great nurses and doctors taking care of him, and then he was as good as new,” she says. Now, as a doctor in Johns Hopkins’ Division of Pediatric Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, her focus is on helping other children who are going through medical crises. M ost of her patients are in precarious conditions, recovering from devastating car accidents or extensive cancer surgeries. The traditional protocol for treating these young patients in intensive care has involved heavy sedation, Kudchadkar explains, so they have little awareness or memory of such distressing times. Their eyes are closed, she says, but whether they are actually asleep—a state critical to children’s healthy cognitive growth—was unknown until recently. Kudchadkar’s research has indicated that the sleep of these young patients is severely disturbed. Changes that facilitate sleep, such as lowering ICU lights at night and softening the sounds of machines, can help critically ill children’s brain development continue on a healthy path, she says. 6.5: Feet of tubing in a trumpet, which Kudchadkar has played for 24 years