News/Blog

Treating Chronic Pain with Physical Therapy

We’ve probably all experienced the nuisance of minor pain. You get a sinus headache, you reach for a decongestant. A backache? Ibuprofen may do the trick.

But for people with chronic pain (it lasts longer than 6 months), the answer may not be as simple. That’s where physical therapy can help.

Physical therapy can help treat not only the pain, but the underlying cause of it as well. Physical therapy can help decrease pain, increase mobility, and improve overall mood.

There are a number of ways that a physical therapist can help a person manage pain depending upon individual abilities, including:

  • Low-impact aerobics
  • Massage
  • Stretching
  • Use of modalities like ultrasound and electrical stimulation
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Movement therapy

Therapeutic treatments are designed to help a person increase muscle strength, endurance, joint stability, and flexibility. In addition, it can help reduce inflammation, stiffness, and soreness. It encourages the body to heal itself by boosting the production of the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals.

Now, that seems like a smart move!

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Weekend Warriors – Battle Potential Injuries

Are you a weekend warrior?

Check “yes” if you’re someone who’s physically inactive most of the week, and then approaches exercise on the weekend with the rigor of an elite athlete.

If this is your plan of action when it comes to exercise, you may want to rethink it. Weekend warriors have a higher risk of being injured – both because of overdoing it in a short amount of time and because of poor conditioning.

Reduce your chance of hurting yourself with the following:

  • Realize that exercise doesn’t have to be “all or nothing.” Look for ways to sneak extra movement into your day.
  • Increase activity gradually. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of exercise a day, 5 days a week. Break this into smaller goals for yourself so you can attain it. If three 10-minute sessions are easier for you to accomplish, then do it.
  • The “best” time of day to exercise is whatever time works for you.
  • Start at a lower intensity, and warm up before beginning an activity.
  • With any sport or exercise, always learn and use proper techniques and follow safety guidelines.
  • Put your workouts into your calendar as appointments. Be sure to keep them.
  • Wear comfortable shoes every day that you can move about easily in no matter where you are or what you’re doing…and then move!
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Hospitals and Disasters

Are hospitals prepared for disasters?

The short answer is…yes.

All hospitals are required by laws, regulations, or accreditation requirements to plan for disasters.

Hospitals prepare for both internal and external disasters. Internal disasters are events that occur inside the hospital building like a fire, flood, or power outage and have potential to affect services.

An external disaster is one like Hurricane Harvey or Irma that occurs outside the hospital. This includes severe weather conditions, chemical incidents, or large-scale community accidents. In these situations, the disaster can affect the operations of the hospital or cause an influx of patients to a hospital, depending on the situation and type of hospital.

Every disaster is different. Hospitals prepare for a variety of situations through ongoing planning and practice. This helps everyone understand what to do and how to do it to ensure patients’ safety and well-being.

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Recognizing a Concussion

With fall around the corner, participation in football and other cooler-weather sports and activities will grow – along with the potential for concussions.

A concussion is a brain injury that’s caused by a blow or jolt to the head or body. Concussion symptoms can occur immediately or days/weeks later. Signs of a concussion can include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Concentration or memory issues
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Feeling sluggish/”foggy”
  • Light sensitivity

Early treatment of the symptoms of a concussion may help speed recovery and prevent further injury down the road. If an incident occurs and you suspect a concussion, ask the person immediately and then again a few minutes later:

  • What day is it?
  • What month is it?
  • Repeat these words: Girl, dog, green (ask to repeat again a few minutes later)
  • Repeat the days of the week backward

If the individual appears confused and is unable to answer these questions, it could be a concussion.
End all activity and consult a physician immediately.

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Improving Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms through Rehabilitation

If you live with multiple sclerosis, rehabilitation can play an essential role in helping you function at your best.

From diagnosis on, rehabilitation specialists such as physical, occupational, and speech therapists can help with symptoms of the condition. These usually include muscle control and weakness – affecting the way you walk, move or talk.
Therapies that can help improve these issues include:

  • Physical Therapy – Physical therapists can evaluate and address how your body moves and functions. Therapists can help you with walking, mobility, strength, balance, posture, pain, fatigue, and bladder issues, helping to prevent unnecessary complications.
  • Occupational Therapy – Occupational therapists can help you with everyday activities to increase your independence, productivity, and safety. They can help you modify tasks, use adaptive equipment, and recommend strategies in the home and work place.
  • Speech Therapy – Speech-language pathologists can evaluate and treat any issues you may be having with speaking or swallowing. Some may also help with cognitive issues, which can affect your ability to think, reason, concentrate or remember.
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10 Early Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Michael J. Fox was a 29-year-old actor who woke up one morning and noticed his little finger shaking. What he thought was a side effect of a hangover actually was an early symptom of Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder that has no known cause. Nearly a million people in the United States live with the disease.

Some symptoms of the disease are easy to see, while others are hard even for a trained healthcare professional to detect.
The National Parkinson Foundation offers these 10 early warning signs of Parkinson’s disease:

  1. Tremor or shaking of a body part
  2. Small handwriting – your handwriting changes to become smaller
  3. Loss of smell
  4. Trouble sleeping
  5. Trouble moving or walking
  6. Constipation
  7. Soft or low voice – your voice changes to be softer
  8. Masked or serious look on your face even when you’re not in a bad mood
  9. Dizziness or fainting
  10. Stooping or hunching over

No one symptom necessarily means that you have the disease; the symptom may be caused by another condition. However, if you feel you are experiencing symptoms, don’t hesitate to visit your physician.

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Rehabilitative Care – It’s Not All the Same

When looking for rehabilitative care, you may have heard of inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, assisted living centers, skilled nursing facilities, and nursing homes. While these may seem like equal choices for care, they’re not.

Each of the facilities mentioned above has rehabilitation professionals on staff, but only one – the rehabilitation hospital – specializes in rehabilitation, offering 24-hour rehabilitative nursing care, along with daily physician management and intensive rehabilitation therapies.

So, why is this important?

Simply put, when it comes to your health, you want the best option provided.

A national study commissioned by the ARA Research Institute shows that patients treated in inpatient rehabilitation hospitals have better long-term results than those treated in skilled nursing facilities.
The study shows that patients:

  • Live longer
  • Have less hospital and ER visits
  • Remain longer in their homes without additional outpatient services

In addition, patients in the study:

  • Returned home from their initial stay two weeks earlier
  • Remained home two weeks longer

So the bottom line is, as a patient, you get to choose where you want to go. Don’t ever hesitate to research, observe and ask questions about a facility to be sure you receive the level of rehabilitative care that you want and need.

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Lower Your Stroke Risks this Summer

Summer is a great time for a lot of things – barbecues, outdoor activities, vacations…but what you may not think about when it comes to summer is using all it has to offer to lower your stroke risks.

Strokes – or brain attacks – are the leading cause of adult disabilities in the United States, and can happen to anyone at any time. According to the National Stroke Association, nearly 800,000 people experience strokes every year.

One of the biggest myths regarding strokes is that they can’t be avoided. But in reality, nearly 80 percent of all strokes can be prevented by controlling lifestyle risk factors, or habits that we engage in that can be changed to improve our health.

Summer provides easy-to-find opportunities to lower stroke risks, such as:

  • Buy and eat fresh produce. Visit your local farmer’s market or grocery store to find in-season, fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat them in their natural states.
  • Eat less salt. Eat fresh vegetables versus canned items, and your salt intake will decrease.
  • Visit the beach. Eat more seafood (at the beach or not) instead of red meat.
  • Enjoy the outdoors. Get active outside during the warmer and longer days.
  • Put the cigarettes down. Summer usually is less stressful. Use it to your advantage to try to break the habit.
  • Shoot for your healthy weight. Healthy eating and activities may help you reach a healthy weight (if you’re not already at it).
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After a Stroke — Finding the Right Words

It’s common to struggle at times to find the right word during a conversation. But for an individual who has had a stroke, finding the right word may be much more difficult.

Aphasia can be a side effect of a stroke, which can affect a person’s ability to communicate by impairing the ability to speak, read, listen or write. When a person with aphasia has word-finding difficulty, it’s called anomia.

Anomia makes it difficult to find the words or ideas that a person wants to share. Sometimes the word may come, and sometimes it won’t.

When this happens in a conversation, the person who is speaking to the stroke survivor may want to jump in quickly to supply the word. But in reality, that can be more of a hindrance than a help. It would be more beneficial to help the person find the word they are looking for rather than supplying it.

So, how can you best communicate with someone under these circumstances? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Allow plenty of time for a response. Talk with the individual, not for him or her.
  • Ask “yes” or “no” questions that can be answered simply and without a lot of explanation.
  • Use photographs or pictures to help provide cues.
  • Write your cues – such as a letter or a drawing – on a piece of paper to share.
  • Confirm and repeat back what the person has said. Use paraphrases or key words to be sure that you’re understanding properly.
  • Use gestures as you ask questions.
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Act FAST and Save a Life

FAST is an easy way to identify the most common symptoms of stroke:

F – Face drooping. Ask the person to smile. Note if one side of the face is drooping.
A – Arm weakness. Ask the person to raise both arms to the side. See if one drifts downward.
S – Speech difficulty. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Listen if the speech is slurred or strange.
T – Time to call 911. If you observe any of these signs, call for help immediately.

Take note of the time of the first symptom so you can tell medical personnel because this can affect treatment decisions. Rapid access to medical treatment can make a difference between full recovery and permanent disability.

Other symptoms of a stroke also may include sudden onset of:

  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding what someone is saying
  • Numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg – especially on one side of the body
  • Trouble seeing out of one or both eyes
  • Severe headache with no known cause
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

Even if you’re unsure if someone is having a stroke, don’t delay in calling 911 to get the person medical help immediately.

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Don’t Have a Stroke

Dick Clark. Sharon Stone. Rick James.

When you think of these celebrities, you probably think of their talents. What you probably don’t realize is that each suffered a stroke.

Strokes – or brain attacks – can happen to anyone at any time. Strokes are the leading cause of adult disability in the United States, and the fifth leading cause of death.

According to the National Stroke Association, about 800,000 people suffer from strokes every year. What’s notable, however, is that nearly 80 percent of strokes can be avoided.

Certain traits, conditions and habits can raise an individual’s risk of having a stroke. Many of these lifestyle risk factors can be controlled and may actually help prevent a stroke from occurring.

That’s good news, right? So, how do we lessen our chances of having a stroke?

We can start by controlling these lifestyle risk factors:
• High blood pressure
• Smoking
• Diabetes
• Poor diet
• High blood cholesterol
• Physical inactivity
• Obesity
• Heart diseases
• Alcohol consumption

If you think you can improve any of these lifestyle risk factors, do it.
The changes you make now may affect what happens – or better yet, what doesn’t happen – later.

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5 Benefits of Walking

There’s nothing quite like a good walk. It doesn’t require a gym membership or a bunch of equipment, and often gets you into the great outdoors.

It’s also very good for you, both physically and mentally. Indeed, all of the benefits of walking would make for a long list, but here are five main benefits that can inspire you to lace up your walking shoes and get moving.

1. Walking Improves Your Mood

You know how it is at the end of a long, trying day. You get home and are looking for something to help take the edge off a little bit. And a great way to do just that – is by taking a walk.

Studies show that walking affects our nervous system, so that we’ll feel a decrease in anger and hostility. Furthermore, walking outside exposes you to sunlight, which helps you cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

2. Walking Combats the Effects of Too Much Sitting

It has become clear in recent years that prolonged sitting has many negative health effects, including the damage it causes to leg arteries. But one study showed that taking even three, five-minute walks a day can reverse this damage.

If your job entails prolonged sitting, it’s helpful to take a short break every hour and go for a quick stroll.

3. Walking Boosts Your Immune System

We’ve already mentioned how great walking is as a stress-reliever, but it also improves your circulation, and helps give you a sense of overall calm. In turn, these factors boost your immune system – which helps your body fight diseases; from the common cold, up to more serious health problems.

Walking has even been shown to lessen menopause symptoms for older women.

4. Walking Lowers Your Risk of Chronic Disease

We’ve already touched on the positive impact walking has on your immune system and fending off diseases, but it’s worth a closer look:

  • Walking lowers your blood sugar levels and your overall risk for diabetes (according to the American Diabetes Association).
  • Another study showed that regular walking lowered blood pressure, and may significantly reduce the risk of stroke.
  • Studies also show that those who walked regularly, and met minimum physical activity guidelines had a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease.

5. Walking Helps Improve Your Creativity

The research is in: Walking and other physical activities will improve your creativity and help you find solutions – like those often faced at work –  to tricky problems. A study showed that walking produced twice as many creative responses in participants that walked, than those who were sitting for long periods.

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What is Occupational Therapy?

When it comes to health and rehabilitation professions, occupational therapists are truly a valuable resource.

Occupational therapy helps people optimize their ability to accomplish daily activities, through improving life skills following an injury or physical impairment. But there’s much more to occupational therapy than meets the eye – and in honor of National Occupational Therapy Month – let’s take a closer look.

What Do Occupational Therapists Do?

An occupational therapist works with people of all ages who are in need of specialized assistance because of physical, social, developmental, or emotional impairments. The occupational therapist helps patients lead more independent and productive lives by using daily activities such as self-care, work, play, and leisure as part of the therapeutic process.

A primary goal of an occupational therapist is to help patients improve their ability to carry out daily tasks. The occupational therapist will assess the patient’s home and work environment, and provide recommendations for how to adapt and lead a better quality of life. In short, occupational therapists help people with injuries, illnesses, and disabilities to live better lives.

What are Some Common Occupational Therapy Services?

  1. Occupational therapists often work with children with disabilities to help them participate fully in school and social activities.
  2. An occupational therapist may help someone who is recovering from an injury to regain needed day-to-day skills.
  3. The occupational therapist may provide support for older adults who are going through cognitive and physical changes.
  4. Occupational therapists will also do individualized evaluations, provide a customized rehabilitation plan, and ensure that outcomes are met throughout the rehabilitation process.
  5. While occupational therapists will sometimes directly treat injuries, they focus more often on helping the patient improve his or her life skills, while also incorporating adaptive tools that are sometimes created by the therapist.

Where Do Occupational Therapists Work?

An occupational therapist may work in a variety of settings, including: rehabilitation hospitals, nursing facilities, acute-care hospitals, outpatient clinics, home health, school systems, industry settings, and more. The types of places where an occupational therapist may work are growing annually.

In honor of National Occupational Therapy Month, we would like to thank all occupational therapists for what they do to help rehabilitate patients. We understand and appreciate the unique services that you provide!

 

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Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital Provides Nationally Recognized Care To Community for 9th Year in Row

For the 9th year in a row, Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital has been acknowledged for providing nationally recognized rehabilitative care to its patients. The hospital was ranked in the Top 10% of inpatient rehabilitation facilities nationwide for providing care that is patient-centered, effective, efficient and timely.

“We are very pleased to be recognized for our high quality care for the 9th year in a row,” says Mike Phillips, CEO of Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital. “What is most exciting is that patients right here in Wyoming have access to the highest level of rehabilitative care available nationally- right here in our own backyard.”

The hospital was ranked from among 781 inpatient rehabilitation facilities nationwide by the Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation (UDSMR). The UDSMR is a non-profit corporation that was developed with support from the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. UDSMR maintains the world’s largest database for medical rehabilitation outcomes.

“Through UDSMR, we collaborate with our peers throughout the United States to share information and establish best practices for patients,” says Dr. Ryan T. Swan, Medical Director of the hospital. “This recognition for the 9th consecutive year is a testament to the exceptional care our staff brings every day to meet the rehabilitation needs of Wyoming’s citizens.”

Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital provides specialized rehabilitative services to patients who are recovering from disabilities caused by injuries, illnesses, or chronic medical conditions. This includes strokes, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and amputations, along with illnesses such as cerebral palsy, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

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National Doctors’ Day

The world of medicine was changed forever on March 30, 1842, with the first documented use of anesthesia during surgery.

While the accomplishments of doctors has continued to evolve  – and amaze – since then, March 30 remains a special day in the world of medicine. After all, it’s now considered National Doctors’ Day – a day to recognize physicians and their countless contributions to society and their communities.

The first observance of National Doctors’ Day was in 1933, in Winder, Georgia. The wife of a local doctor wanted to have a day to honor physicians, and with the help of others, sent greeting cards and placed flowers on the graves of deceased doctors. Today, the red carnation is considered the symbolic flower for Doctors’ Day.

In 1991, President George H. Bush signed a bill that made National Doctors’ Day a day of celebration in the United States.

We’ll celebrate by giving thanks to the incredible doctors in our Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities and Long-Term Acute Care Hospitals. In both settings, our physicians are an integral part of the team that works with patients and their families to deliver the highest quality care possible.

Former Polish Prime Minister Eva Kopacz – who’s also a physician – wonderfully described the role of doctors as “a special mission, a devotion,” while saying that it called for “involvement, respect, and willingness to help all other people.”

Let’s all help celebrate National Doctors’ Day by giving physicians in our community a sincere word of thanks for their long hours, hard work, and constant care.

You can also observe this special day by using #NationalDoctorsDay to post on social media.

 

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Sign Up for the 8th Annual Stride Out Stroke Run/Walk!

Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital will be holding the 8th Annual Stride Out Stroke Run/Walk on Saturday, June 3rd, 2017!

Proceeds will benefit Stroke Awareness within our community.

Click Here to download the Registration Form.
$15 in advance by June 2, $20 the day of the 5K.

Where:
Tate Pumphouse Trail Center on the Platte River
1775 West 1st Street, Casper

When:
7:00 am Sign-In/Registration
8:00 am Race Begins

Abbreviated route is available!

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The Role of Social Workers at Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities

To serve as a social worker means to serve in a variety of roles – usually on a daily basis. That’s certainly true of social workers who serve in inpatient rehabilitation facilities.

With March being National Social Work Month, it’s a great time to take a closer look at the many ways the nation’s more than 600,000 social workers serve the healthcare industry. And in an inpatient rehabilitation setting, where patients are recovering from disabling diseases, injuries, and chronic illnesses, social workers are an integral part of the medical team.

Social Workers in Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities

Social workers are key contributors in the rehabilitation and recovery of patients in inpatient rehabilitation facilities. Their roles may include:

  • The initial screening and evaluation of patients and families.
  • Helping patients and family members deal with the many aspects of the patient’s condition – social, financial, and emotional.
  • Helping patients and families understand their illnesses and treatment options.
  • Acting as an advocate for patients and families – including as an advocate for the patient’s health care rights.
  • Aid and expedite decision-making on behalf of patients and their families.
  • Educating patients on the roles of other members on their recovery team – including physicians, nurses, physical therapists, etc.
  • Crisis intervention
  • Providing a comprehensive psychosocial assessment of patients.
  • Educating patients and families about post-hospital care.
  • Helping patients adjust to their inpatient rehab setting.
  • Coordinating patient discharge and continuity of care following discharge.

Serving as a Patient/Family Advocate

As mentioned, one of the key roles that social workers serve in an inpatient rehabilitation setting is as a patient advocate. The importance of helping the patient understand and adjust to hospital procedures, understand medical plans, and assisting the patient’s family with financial planning is crucial.

The social worker’s role as an advocate also includes maintaining open lines of communication between the patient, family, and other members of the health care team. He or she also will learn each family’s dynamics while understanding its strengths – and encouraging the use of these strengths.

Indeed, the pressure on families as a loved one moves through the health care system can be intense and there’s a lot to learn in a short time. Social workers ease this pressure on all levels, whether it regards the plan of treatment or financial needs.

Studies have shown that the more informed the patient, the better healthcare decisions he or she will make during their treatment and post-recovery. In turn, this results in better long-term health outcomes while also saving money.

While some healthcare facilities will have trained volunteers serving as patient advocates, social workers are more qualified to serve in an advocate role based on their education, training, and experience. At Ernest Health Systems, we believe that social workers are an essential part of a patient’s recovery team.

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A Heart Attack’s Effect on the Brain

It’s estimated that someone suffers a heart attack approximately every 40 seconds in the United States – or about 720,000 people each year. While many heart attack victims recover and resume their normal lives, others have to deal with lingering physical effects, such as changes in the brain.

Specifically, heart attacks and other forms of heart failure can cause a loss of gray matter in the brain, and a decline in mental processes.

What Happens During a Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when blood that brings oxygen to the heart is cut off, or severely reduced. Coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart can narrow because of fat buildup and other substances. When an artery breaks, a clot forms around the substance and blood flow is restricted to the heart muscle.

Oxygen and the Brain

The brain needs adequate oxygen to function normally. Research has shown that brain cells begin to die when oxygen levels drop significantly low for several minutes or longer. After an extended period, a permanent brain injury may occur. This type of injury is known as an anoxic brain injury, or also cerebral hypoxia.

There are four types of anoxia – with each potentially leading to brain damage – including stagnant anoxia, in which an internal condition (such as a heart attack) blocks oxygen-rich blood from reaching the brain.

Cognitive Issues Associated with Heart Attacks

A recent study by Sweden’s Lund University said that half of all heart attack survivors experience memory loss, attention problems, and other cognitive issues. Lasting effects on the brain’s mental functions could even lead to possible dementia.

Brain scans done in similar studies showed that heart disease and heart failure might lead to losses of gray matter in the brain that are important for a variety of cognitive functions, which in turn lead to issues such as:

  • Memory Loss
    Most people who suffer an anoxic brain injury experience some short-term memory loss. The hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning new information, is extremely sensitive to a lack of oxygen.
  • Anomia
    Anomia refers to difficulty in using words, or processing the meaning of words. The patient may not remember the right word, or use a word out of context.
  • Poor Performance in Executive Functions
    Executive functions include reasoning, processing information, judgment, etc. For instance, the patient may become impulsive and indecisive.
  • Visual Issues
    Patients also may have trouble processing visual information.

Treatment

Immediate treatment is essential when dealing with cerebral hypoxia. The sooner the normal oxygen supply is restored to the brain, the lower the risk of brain damage. The type of treatment depends on the cause of the anoxic injury and may include:

  • Breathing assistance via mechanical ventilation and oxygen.
  • Controlling the heart rate and rhythm.
  • The use of medicines such as phenytoin, phenobarbital, valproic acid, or general anesthetics.

The patient’s recovery depends on how long the brain lacked oxygen. The patient might have a full return to function if the oxygen supply to the brain was blocked only for a short time. The longer a person lacks this oxygen supply, the higher the risk for serious consequences, including death, and severe brain injury.

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5 Tips on Caring For An Individual With a Brain Injury

When a loved one or family member suffers a brain injury, you may take the role of caregiver – a role that can be exceptionally challenging. At the very least, it’s a stressful time that can call on all of your mental and physical resources and abilities.

The fact is, few injuries are as devastating as a severe brain injury. The person who suffers one may behave, think, and see the world differently than he or she did prior. Providing support and being their caregiver, is often a delicate, demanding task. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind.

1.Structure is Vital

Maintaining a structured environment is essential for providing care to someone who’s suffered a brain injury. The structure will minimize potential issues by providing the individual a consistent, dependable way of life. It provides you (the caregiver) with a disciplined approach that accounts for most variables and inevitable challenges that may arise. It also means maintaining a schedule that provides as much activity as the patient can handle, without becoming overly fatigued.

2. Communication

Knowing what not to say to a person with a brain injury is just as important as knowing what to say. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Don’t tell them they’re not trying hard enough – Apathy, not laziness, is common after a brain injury. Recognize apathy and take steps to treat it.
  • Understand the invisible signs – A person with a brain injury often suffers from hidden signs such as fatigue, depression, anxiety, etc., and saying that they “look fine” to you is belittling.
  • Don’t complain about having to repeat yourself – Almost everyone who suffers a brain injury will experience some memory problems. Becoming frustrated that you have to repeat yourself only emphasizes the issue.
  • Remain patient when they’re not – Irritability is a common sign of a brain injury and it can come and go without reason. If you are always pointing out their grumpiness, it doesn’t help the situation.
  • Don’t remind them how much you do for them – The person may already know how much you do for them – and feels some guilt about it – or may not understand at all (depending on the severity of their injury).

3. Educate Yourself

Become involved in their recovery during the rehabilitation process. Doing so enables you to have a clear understanding of struggles the person will face, and strategies that you can implement at home to lessen the impact of these problems.

4. Be Aware of Changes in Behavior

Check with your physician whenever you notice any behavioral changes in your loved one, or person you are caring for. Seizures can develop after a brain injury and occur several months, or even years after the injury occurred. Your physician may recommend anti-seizure medications.

5. Take Time for Yourself

It can be easy to ignore personal fatigue and frustration while you’re caring for someone with a brain injury. Taking time for yourself, calling on the help of others, joining a caregiver support group – all are ways that can assist you from becoming physically and emotionally exhausted. Above all, be kind to yourself and give yourself credit for all that you do.

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Winter Safety: Preventing Sports-Related Head Injuries

There’s no such thing as cabin fever for the millions of people who participate in sports during the winter. From hockey to downhill skiing to sledding and snowboarding, the possibilities for recreational pursuits are many.

While perhaps not as common as other winter sports injuries, the number of concussions and other head-related injuries is certainly nothing to be ignored. Moreover, head injuries are the leading cause of disability and death among skiers and snowboarders.

Because they’re often performed at high speed and on slippery and hard surfaces, winter sports can lead to a variety of injuries. And that’s why preventing them is paramount.

By The Numbers

A study led by the John Hopkins School of Medicine said that approximately 10 million Americans ski or snowboard annually. Severe head trauma accounts for nearly 20 percent of all injuries related to those sports – including injuries that resulted in a concussion or loss of consciousness. While the number of skiers and snowboarders wearing helmets has increased over the year, few states have made helmets mandatory to participate in these sports.

The Danger of Concussions

According to the Centers for Disease Control, a concussion is considered a type of traumatic brain injury that’s the result of a blow or jolt to the head, or by a hit to the body that causes the brain to move rapidly back and forth. The sudden impact can damage brain cells and create chemical changes in the brain. Some common symptoms of a concussion include blurred vision, confusion, dizziness, vomiting, decreased coordination or balance, weakness, and swelling at the site of the injury.

If anyone you know notices these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Preventing Head-related Injuries

Many winter sports-related injuries are preventable, and participants can play their favorite sport safely. Here are some tips for avoiding head-related injuries.

  • Always Wear a Helmet
    Wearing a properly-fitted helmet (one that fits securely on your head even when you’re wearing a hat or cap to stay warm) is perhaps the most important type of prevention. Be sure to replace your helmet after a serious fall or impact.
  • Know Your Limitations
    Take lessons and learn the fundamentals of your favorite sport before advancing to a more difficult level, especially on the slopes. Young children should never be allowed to play in snow and ice without adult supervision.
  • Know Your Surroundings
    Make sure you’re aware of any blind spots, sudden turns, or drop-offs before you hit the slopes. Ski or sled away from trees and avoid crowded areas when possible. Don’t wear headphones so that you can hear what’s going on around you.
  • Wear Appropriate Clothing
    Only wear clothing that’s appropriate for your favorite sport while never wearing clothes that interfere with your vision.
  • Know The Signs of Concussions
    There are a variety of symptoms associated with concussions, as mentioned previously, and these symptoms may occur right after the injury or for not even days and weeks.
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