Managing the Stress of Information Overload

The expression “life in the fast lane” has been used in the past to describe anything from people working too much, too hard, and too long to abusing substances. With the advent of the information age and its attendant smart phones, Skype, iPads and other devices and technologies, life has now moved from the fast lane onto the super highway. People remain in constant connection and find themselves multitasking everything from work (long after business hours) to the news, and from social media to the stock exchange. It is easy to feel overwhelmed in these circumstances; the challenge becomes how to manage this “information overload.” Read more

Arthritis and Exercise: What to Do and What Not to Do

There are many different types of arthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, common forms include rheumatoid, osteoarthritis, gout, fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis. While many medications can improve pain and quality of life for people with any type of arthritis, exercising is one of the most important ways to manage the condition. Exercise cannot cure arthritis, but it can preserve joints and improve quality of life.  Read more

A National Goal: Improving Cardiovascular Health and Quality of Life

Chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, are responsible for seven out of every 10 deaths among Americans each year, and many of the risk factors that contribute to the development of these diseases are preventable. Healthy People 2020, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), aims to improve the health of all Americans by providing science-based, 10-year national objectives. Read more

Why Should I Get a Flu Shot?

According to the New York State Department of Health (DOH), achieving and sustaining high influenza vaccination coverage among health care personnel will protect staff and their patients, and reduce disease burden and health-care costs. That’s why New York is one of the many states enacting a mandatory influenza immunization (or formal refusal) for health care workers. Yet despite the benefits and availability of the vaccine, many health care personnel have concerns and misconceptions about it, just as many other people do.

Whether you are a health care worker or not, debunking the myths about influenza vaccine will enable you to make an educated decision: Read more

How Can I Ease Anxiety Over Medical Tests and Procedures?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, preventive health guidelines advocate routine testing by age range to maintain good health. These tests include childhood immunizations, well child visits, annual physicals for adults, flu shots, cholesterol screening, screening mammograms, prostate exams, colonoscopy and more! Many people get frightened or nervous about going for medical tests or procedures, and waiting for results may create even more stress. Read more

Dehydration — Not Just a Warm Weather Problem

Dehydration is often a concern of marathon runners and other athletes, especially during warm weather. Unfortunately, it can be a problem for the very young and the very old, as well. What many people may not know is that dehydration can be a problem for anyone. Clinical dehydration can occur in people who are vomiting or have diarrhea and do not know how to replace the salt and water that is exiting the body. Read more

So, You’ve Been Bitten by a Tick

Ticks are parasitic arachnids that live in grassy or wooded areas. People can unknowingly pick up ticks as they walk past bushes, plants and grass. Ticks can also be carried on a pet and then transferred to a human. According to the National Institutes of Health: “Ticks can be fairly large—about the size of a pencil eraser—or so small that they are almost impossible to see. Ticks can cause a variety of health conditions ranging from harmless to serious.” Read more

Protect Your Head! Brain Injury Awareness

Phineas Gage was an American railroad construction foreman in the 1800s who is remembered for his survival of an accident in which a large iron rod was driven completely through his head, destroying much of his brain’s frontal lobe. After that, his personality and behavior were so profoundly affected that friends saw him as “no longer Gage.”

Types of Brain Injury

Gage had suffered a traumatic brain injury, or TBI—the same type of injury experienced lately by several well-known individuals, including Sen. Gabby Gifford and Junior Seau. While there are two types of brain injury—TBI and acquired brain injury—what we hear about in the media mostly involves TBI, an often-puzzling condition. The Brain Injury Association of America defines it as an alteration in brain function, or other evidence of brain pathology, caused by an external force. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the causes of brain injury are falls (35.2%), motor vehicle crashes (17.3%), struck by/against events (16.5%), assault (10%) and unknown (21%).

There are many different types of TBI: diffuse axonal injury, concussion, contusion, coup-contracoup and penetrating injury, to name a few. Depending on the type of injury and its location on the brain, the outcome—including the behavior of the injured individual—varies. Brain injury can affect people of any age or gender.

Rehabilitation Takes a Team

Individuals who suffer brain injuries will begin acute rehabilitation as early as possible. In acute rehabilitation, a team of health professionals with experience and training in brain injury work with the patient to regain as many activities of daily living as possible. The team includes a physiatrist (doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation), rehabilitation nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, social worker and nutritionist. Activities of daily living include dressing, eating, toileting, walking, speaking and more.

Prevention Tips

Preventing TBI has become a public health priority. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons offers the following guidelines:

* Buy and use helmets or protective head gear for such sports as baseball, cycling, skiing and more;

* Wear a seatbelt when you drive or ride in a car;

* Do not drink alcohol and drive;

* Do not dive in water less than 12 feet deep or in an above-ground pool;

* Remove hazards at home that can contribute to falls, like scatter rugs, electrical cords, etc.; and

* Maintain safety in the bathroom for the elderly.

Finally, if you or your loved one suffers a TBI, community support is available through your local hospital, Brain Injury Association of America and even in online communities.

References

Brain Injury Association of America (2012).

American Association of Neurological Surgeons (2012).

To find a great doctor who is right for you, please call the Physician Referral Service at 1 (866) 804-1007 Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.

 

Winter Safety — A Top Priority!

Every winter, unfortunately, the hospital sees patients that have had a weather-related accident. Here are some winter safety tips, taking it from the top down:

Hats

According to the Center for Health Policy at Indiana University, the myth that we lose most of our body heat through our heads is just not true. If that were the case, going without a hat would be the equivalent of going without pants. This is good news for those who dread “hat hair.” That being said, a hat will help you stay warmer. A long walk in the cold, snow or rain requires a hat for greater comfort.

Layers

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that we dress infants and children in thin layers, which will help keep them warm and dry. People of all ages should follow this advice as well. Elderly individuals who are less mobile at home may be colder; getting up and walking about, even in the house, can improve circulation and increase body heat.

Footwear

Proper footwear is a must during winter. In the event of snow or ice, women, especially, need to proceed with caution. Stilettos or very high-heeled shoes can be a hazard. In fact, falling off high heels is a common problem, resulting in sprains, strains and fractures. Using common sense about footwear—especially in the snow or ice—is essential. Wearing snow boots when going out and then putting heels on at your destination is a better option than wearing heels in snow or ice.

Boots with rubber soles or those that grip or create traction are good if you have to go outdoors. Black (transparent) ice, in particular, is something that everyone needs to be very careful about. Shoe chains that are worn over the shoe can be particularly helpful in the snow. (Caveat: Do not wear them in the house!) Designed in the early 1900’s, they work along the same premise as tire chains, wrapping around the shoe and providing traction in the snow and ice.

Accident Prevention

Finally, proceed with caution. Stay indoors in the snow, ice or heavy wind. We see a number of seniors who are blown down and fall due to high winds, and ultimately fracture a bone. Food can always be ordered in to your home. Better yet, follow the weather channel and be prepared in advance for inclement weather by having enough food, water and warm clothing on hand. Having a neighbor or buddy whom you check on or who checks on you is also a great idea!

When in doubt, stay in and stay warm!

 

References:

American Academy of Pediatrics (2012). Winter Safety Tips. http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/pages/Winter-Safety-Tips.aspx

Sample, I. (2008). The Guardian News. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/dec/17/medicalresearch-humanbehaviour

Shoe Chains (2012). http://suite101.com/article/shoe-chains-may-prevent-falls-in-snow-and-ice–tips-for-seniors-a309201