News/Blog

Which Workout Routine Works for You?

We all understand the importance of exercise for our health: physically, mentally, and emotionally. But, it can be easy to put off an exercise routine or to get into a rut. The changing of the seasons is a great time to incorporate new activities into your exercise regimen and try some exercises that you might not have considered.

With any start or change into an exercise regimen, it’s important to consult with your physician to make sure the changes you make will help and not hurt you. Below, we share some activities to help change up your workout routine, as well as some things to keep in mind to stay safe!

YARD WORK/GARDENING:

The growing grass and weeds of the season can be an excellent opportunity to get some extra exercise. The action of mowing not only provides an excellent cardio workout, but it also helps to build up muscles in the arms that might not normally get as much attention. Taking time to take the weeds out of your yard can be satisfying, relaxing, and be a great source of exercise to your core and arms.

Things to keep in mind: Make sure you’re mowing safely. Take breaks often, and make sure you stay hydrated. Mowing or weeding your yard can strain your back, making it a priority to listen to your body while doing this our back safe and allow you to still get a good workout. Make sure that you keep your body square as you reach for the weeds, and never reach behind to pull weeds. This will also help to protect your back and spine from injury.

WALKING/RUNNING:

If you have not tried walking or running, you’re in for a treat. It’s a great opportunity to burn some calories and enjoy being outside in the fresh air. Walking and running are also great ways to keep your back and spine healthy and strong, especially for those that have a job that requires you to sit throughout the day. To help give your calorie burn an extra boost, try running or walking in intervals: start at a comfortable speed for a minute or two, and then go faster for 30 seconds to a minute.

Things to keep in mind: Proper shoes will help protect your feet and spine, so choose to invest in a good pair. Practice proper running form to keep your body healthy as you exercise: keep your back and head straight, and keep your arms loose at a 90-degree angle. Don’t “pound” the pavement, but let your feet hit in the middle and then roll to the toes. You can also protect your knees by sticking to a pace that is within your range and gradually working up to faster speeds.

YOGA:

Yoga is one of our favorite exercise routines to help rehabilitate the body after a week of strengthening and cardio workouts. Yoga not only promotes stretching, strengthening, and flexibility, it also improves balance and coordination and helps to release any stress or tension. You will be surprised to see the results you gain from just one class/session a week.

Things to keep in mind: While yoga tends to be rehabilitative in nature, be careful not to overdo it. If you can’t complete a position correctly, consider using a yoga block to help you until you’re ready.

CYCLING:

Indoor and outdoor cycling has gained momentum as a fun way to get a heart-pumping workout. It also helps to take some pressure off the knees, which can be a downside to running. After one spin class, you’ll be surprised to see how many calories you have burned.

Things to keep in mind: As with walking and running, it’s important not to overdo it too soon. Part of what makes cycling such a great workout is that it boosts your heart rate very quickly. Work int a more rapid pace gradually, giving your body time to adjust. You also want to practice proper form: avoid “hunching” your shoulders as you hold the handlebars. It can put unwanted pressure on the neck and back.

KETTLEBELLS:

Kettlebells are another workout that has begun to gain popularity. One reason so many people like working with kettlebells is their diversity of use and exercises, and that they provide both a cardio and strength workout.

Things to keep in mind: As with any strength routine, it’s important to practice proper form. Make sure your feet are square, shoulder-width apart. Keep your head, neck, and back in line to avoid any problems. Stay within your weight limit and gradually work up to the heavier kettlebells.

The value of changing up your workouts is that it not only gets you out of rut but also helps your body exercise and stretch different muscles that you haven’t been working. As you try new and different classes and exercises, you’re likely to find something new that you love and enjoy.

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Making a Fitness Plan for You

Whether you’re beginning a therapy routine or revamping your New Year’s Resolution, the truth is the same across the board: exercise is beneficial. Exercise is good for your heart, your lungs, your muscles, and your mind. It contributes to better lifelong health and self-esteem. It’s simply a good idea all around, as long as you approach it the right way.

Exercise covers a broad landscape of options. From jogging or weight lifting to swimming or walking, there are many opportunities to find both what you love and what you should avoid.

FOCUS ON YOU.

The world of exercise and fitness can be full of expectations and deceptive successes. An exercise plan or nutritional change may have worked wonders for a celebrity or family member, but that doesn’t mean it’ll do the same for you. It’s important to isolate your needs and preferences and create an exercise plan that will complement your lifestyle.

TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR.

Talking to your doctor before you start a new exercise plan is always a good idea. This can help prevent negative outcomes and help you achieve more satisfying results. Not only can a doctor tell you what to avoid to prevent injury, but they can also offer exercise suggestions based on your height and weight. This expertise will assist you in being as successful as possible in your endeavors.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO?

Exercise doesn’t have to be drudgery. The exercise options available nowadays are practically endless. If you enjoy working out in solitude, walking or jogging can provide some much-needed alone time. If dancing is a favorite activity, try a dance-based workout like Zumba or Jazzercise. Many gyms offer a variety of weight-lifting options, and water-based activities like swimming or water aerobics provide a low-impact workout for people with weak knees or other limiting conditions.

If you can’t afford the gym, or simply aren’t interested in going to one, purchasing a workout DVD or streaming exercise videos online can provide you instruction within the comfort of your home.

SET REALISTIC GOALS.

Be kind to yourself. Remember the fact that any exercise is usually better than no exercise, and that you’re probably not going to be able to run 10 miles right off the bat. Setting impossible goals or unrealistic expectations often leads to failure. Finding a fitness partner or family member who can help motivate you can be extremely helpful, especially in times of discouragement.

Talking to your doctor is a good way to get a realistic view of what you can accomplish based on your current physical ability.

NOURISH YOUR BODY.

If a healthy lifestyle is your goal, then an exercise plan must be paired with a healthy diet. Filling your body full of sugar and saturated fats will counteract the progress you’re making and can produce discouraging results. This, however, does not mean that you need to deprive yourself. Simply eating more fruits and vegetables while cutting down on rich and sugary foods will not only help you to feel better but will also provide your body with the necessary nutrients that it needs to carry out your exercise plan.

Proper nutrition during exercise is another great reason to talk with your doctor before you begin, as he or she will be able to counsel you on a diet that is right for you.

If you’ve come to the decision to adjust to a more healthy lifestyle, you’re already on the right path. Remember to drink plenty of water, be aware of your abilities and limits, and ask for help if you’re unsure of the right course of action.

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The Best Way to Make Goals

We would be hard pressed to find one person who can honestly say that he or she has kept every New Year’s resolution they have made. That’s because resolutions tend to be broad, general wishes rather than planned, attainable targets. 

The month before the summer season is a great time to recommit to your resolutions and make them into thoughtfully planned goals. Preparing for your goals is the best way to equip yourself to achieve them. We’ve listed a few tips that will help your goals be more attainable and realistic. 

FOUR AREAS FOR GOAL SETTING

  • Nutrition. Many people use the turning of the New Year to try a new diet; however, most of these diets don’t make it past January. That’s because they are often based on gimmicks and promises of quick results. If you truly want to make lasting changes in your health levels, first speak with your doctor(s) about what is safe for your current health status. Then, look for a wellness program that emphasizes a well-balanced nutrition plan appropriate for you. Starting a food journal, or using a food logging app can help you stay on track. Summer is a great time to find fresh fruits and vegetables and learn creative ways to prepare them.
  • Fitness. After nutrition goals, the second most common goal for the New Year are fitness goals. In January, it’s easy to believe that you can dive into a high intensity workout time that requires a hefty time commitment. Although it’s good to challenge yourself, statistically you’re more likely to keep up with your commitment if you choose to set your goal as something that’s only a step above what you’re already doing. For example, if you don’t usually do any physical activity it may be realistic to make your goal to take a 15-minute walk every day instead of signing up for your local HIIT Training Class 5 times a week. As the weather is warming up, try something that you would enjoy outdoors.
  • Emotional. Most of us can make a point to try to be less stressed, however, without a plan this goal can actually make us more stressed. Whether you decide to start a journal or take up walking, make sure that the solution is something that can realistically fit into your schedule regardless of your season of life. Emotional goals can give you the opportunity to “bundle” your other goals. If cooking or walking serve as a tool for your relaxation, you’re not only fulfilling your emotional goals but also your fitness and nutrition goals. 

Your goals might not fall into any of the categories listed above, but that doesn’t mean that the same methods don’t apply. The strategy is the same for whatever goal you set – make a detailed plan with specific steps, set a realistic timeframe (for realistic goals), and stick to a deadline. And perhaps the most important of all is to get others involved. Have close friends, family, and or colleagues help keep you accountable. 

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Sign Up for the 7th Annual Stride out Stroke Run/Walk!

Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital will be holding the 7th Annual Stride out Stroke Run/Walk on Thursday, July 7th, 2016!

Click Here to download the Registration Form.
$15 in advance by July 6, $20 the day of the event.

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

5:00 Sign-In/Registration
6:00 Race Begins

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Taking Steps to a Calming Routine

Patients from all walks of life come through the doors of EVRH, and we get the extreme privilege of experiencing their varying personalities, hopes, fears, and knowledge. While the differences are always distinct, we have noticed that there is at least one factor that is common among the lot: stress.

Whether the stress is minor or extreme, it’s a feeling we see written on the faces of team members and patients alike. Last week we talked about Healthy Ways to Handle Your Stress, and one of our tips was creating a calming routine. The following tips can be incorporated into anyone’s routine, and may help relieve a stressful schedule.

Nourish Your Body

“Stress-eating” is a term that gets heard more and more these days, and is a sneaky pitfall when it comes to taking care of yourself. A recent study by food scientists at Cornell University has shown that, when experiencing a period of negative emotion, pleasurable foods become even more appealing than usual, and unappealing foods become exponentially more distasteful.

This information makes it even more important to adopt a healthy diet. By planning ahead and making nourishing foods easily accessible, you’ll be better prepared for those times when you’ve had a rough morning, and a box of doughnuts shows up in the hospitality room. The simple act of eating a satisfying, nutrient-packed breakfast can set the atmosphere of your whole day, removing the need to reach for an unhealthy snack.

Making an impulse-eating decision can often cause guilt or physical discomfort later on—which will only further contribute to your stress levels.

Go for a Walk

One of the best ways to ease your mind is to get moving. Exercise triggers the production of endorphins, which are the neurotransmitters in your brain associated with “feeling good.” By focusing your mind on the movement of your body, you’ll be able to give yourself a break from your worries, creating a small, meditative escape from stress. Walking, specifically, is an ideal form of stress relief, as it is more accessible to people of differing athletic abilities. In addition to endorphin production, regular exercise promotes better health and self-esteem, which can drastically decrease stress levels.

Any exercise is an effective way to cope with stress, but it seems to be especially so when it is taken outdoors. Being able to remove yourself from your typical environment and take a few moments to connect with the outside world can be a good way to hit the reset button.

Talk to Someone

Stress can be very overwhelming when faced alone. Finding a close friend, support group, or therapist to share your feelings and fears with can help put your stress in perspective. Whether it’s the very basic act of hearing your feelings out loud or the relief of discovering that you’re not alone, finding a person or group to talk to is a powerful way to bring about some emotional relief.

Find a Healthy Distraction

While analyzing your stress is important and helpful, it’s equally important to give your mind a break. When feelings of anxiety and burden become too overwhelming, a brief, pleasurable escape can allow your body and mind to relax.

In addition to exercise, there are many ways to do this. Finding a new book to read or carving out some time to listen to your favorite music can help release some more of those endorphins and better prepare you to tackle your stress later on.

Be careful, however, to avoid distractions that are harmful, such as drugs, alcohol, or stress-eating. These are deceptive escapes that ultimately result in more stress for you.

Just Breathe

A tried-and-true method of stress relief and relaxation is the practice of deep breathing. While causing extreme emotional strain, stress can also affect a person physically. Practicing deep breathing exercises can help reverse some of the effects that stress has on the body by relaxing your heartbeat, increasing oxygen to your brain, and even lowering your blood pressure. We encourage you to visit this link for a fantastic resource on deep breathing information and exercises.

Cross Things off Your List

While all of the above activities can help reduce your stress, sometimes the only way to find relief is to remove your stressors. Make a list of factors that you can change, control, or accomplish, such as necessary duties and overwhelming tasks that need to be finished. You’ll find your relief grow dramatically as you remove these stressful items from your list, allowing more room for the things that bring you happiness.

Those on the team here at EVRH are no strangers to stress. We want to provide a source of comfort and knowledge so that our patients and their families receive the best possible care. Adding just one of these tips to your everyday routine may seem like too small a task to make a difference, but being more aware of being stressed helps you make a step in the right direction.

Sources:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150709093313.htm

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469

http://www.healthywomen.org/content/article/reduce-stress-journaling

 

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Healthy Ways to Handle Your Stress

It’s important to give yourself the permission to relax every once in awhile, whether that quiet moment is spent with a steaming cup of tea or an indulgent massage. Stress and exhaustion can cause long-term health issues if allowed to remain severe for too long. We’d like to share a few tips for relaxation to help you take care of yourself.

PUT ON THE KETTLE.

We’ll start with a cup of hot tea. Some studies suggest that an amino acid found in tea, L-theanine, causes the brain to relax. While this statement is still mildly debated, the fact remains that tea is the second-most-consumed liquid in the world, next to water. Many people attribute the simple ritual of sipping a cup of tea to a calming, familiar feeling that is brought on simply by the action of drinking it.

Other herbal teas, such as chamomile and lavender, are said to have calming properties as well. When dealing with herbs, it’s important to check with your doctor if you have any conditions or take medicines that react badly with the herb blends… but if you’re in the clear, what’s to lose? Put on the kettle and see if those shoulders loosen up.

CREATE A COMFORTING ROUTINE.

If you find yourself regularly feeling stressed out, you might benefit from a calming routine. It can be something small-scale to help you calm down in a pinch, or a longer ritual to help you wind down before bed. Either way, it’s important to examine your needs and feelings to establish a routine that will be right for you. Do breathing exercises help? Do you enjoy reading? Is a long, hot bath a surefire way to ease your worries and turn down the thoughts in your head?

Routine provides something to look forward to and creates a consistent set of actions that you can depend on. You can always add a nice cup of tea to that ritual, of course!

EXERCISE

For some people, the act of movement allows the body to burn off energy and the mind to find focus. While more strenuous activities like running and weight-lifting provide a release for some, it’s often the case that a more gentle form of exercise allows a stressed-out individual to calm both their mind and body. Long walks, yoga class, and low-impact swimming are all ideal examples of using exercise to release stress.

JOURNALING

Stress often results from a buildup of responsibilities and negative emotions. Keeping a journal can provide a much-needed space into which you can release some of those fears and concerns. According to a 1986 study on expressive writing, students who wrote about traumatic and stressful events reported an almost immediate decrease in distress. Those who continued the practice over time reported an increase in the quality of their physical health as well.

Bottling up your feelings can lead to stress. Releasing those feelings can relieve that stress. A journal is a wonderful way to disclose your emotions and thoughts in a safe, controlled environment.

MAKE IT ABOUT YOU.

Whether you love tea or hate it… whether you’d rather run a mile than get a massage, the point of this post is to encourage relaxation that works for you. A mind that carries stress and tension for a prolonged period is also a body carrying that stress and tension. Finding techniques that help ease both physical and mental stress will allow you to focus on the things that you love.

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Top 10 Reasons Why Being in the Top 10% Matters

Our staff did it again! We’ve been ranked in the Top 10% nationwide for our patient care at Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital. That makes us pretty happy, and here’s why:

Top 10 Reasons we like being in the Top 10

  1. We like the Number 8. This is the 8th year we’ve been ranked as a nationwide leader in rehabilitative care.
  1. It makes us feel good. We’re passionate about patient care, and it’s nice when our efforts are recognized (especially by an unbiased, third-party).
  1. It makes our patients feel good. Who doesn’t want the best care when you’re in a hospital? Our patients know they’ll leave the hospital as active and independent as possible.
  1. Patients and families can save their frequent flier miles. We keep people here in Casper. Our patients and their families don’t have to travel the U.S. to receive the best care available. We bring it right here. To you. Locally.  
  1. We like being a leader. OK, so yeah, we enjoy standing out from the crowd and being different from others around us who provide rehabilitative care. Let’s face it, not all rehabilitative care is the same – inpatient care is better. And we’re not just saying it, research proves it.
  1. We might get more “likes” on Facebook. We know we’re not Justin Bieber or Bob Marley, but we love our fans. And we want them to love us. We like sharing good news and like when others share it too.
  1. It’s not every day you get to work on a Dream Team. The men’s Olympic basketball team has nothing on us. We work with talented, dedicated colleagues every day, and we look for health professionals of the same ilk to join us….which can only lead to better results for our patients.
  1. Ben & Jerry’s is naming an ice cream after us. Well, not really. But that would be cool.
  1. We’re throwing a party. We’re going to celebrate with music, friends and yummy food like cake and barbecue. And if we’re lucky, might get to see our CEO’s “happy” dance.

And the Number 1 reason we like being in the Top 10? 
1. It Matters! Can you say Olympic gold medal? Fun aside, we’re serious about our commitment to our patients to provide them with the highest level of care available. It matters. To us. To our patients. To our community.

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How to Combat Your Anxiety

In our last post, we detailed how important it is for people to get help with anxiety disorders, especially because they can negatively impact overall physical and mental health. However, it’s often difficult to know where to start. In our second post on anxiety, we will focus on how to combat anxiety and what to expect when seeking treatment.

How do I ask for help?

If you think you may be suffering from anxiety, you should share your concerns with your primary care physician. A physician can help determine if the symptoms are due to an anxiety disorder, a medical condition, or both. If your physician diagnoses an anxiety disorder, the next step is to see a mental health care professional. You and your doctor will then work as a team to develop the best treatment plan.

What are my treatment options?

Treatment for anxiety can involve medication, therapy, stress reduction, coping skills, family involvement, or a combination of these. A mental health care provider can determine what type of disorder or combination of disorders you have, and if any other conditions, such as grief, depression, substance abuse, or dementia are present.

If you have been treated before for an anxiety disorder, you should tell your provider about the previous treatment. Be sure to detail what medication was used, dosage, side effects, and whether the treatment was helpful. If you attended therapy sessions, you should describe the type, how many sessions, and whether it helped. Sometimes individuals need to try several different treatments or combinations of treatments before they find the one that works best for them. It is important to be patient and committed to treatment efforts until you find what is best for you.

Medication

Medication will not cure anxiety disorders, but it can keep them under control while you receive therapy. Medication must be prescribed by physicians, often psychiatrists or geriatric psychiatrists, who can also offer therapy or work as a team with psychologists, social workers, or counselors who provide therapy. The main medications used for anxiety disorders are antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and beta-blockers, which control some of the physical symptoms. Below are several points to remember when beginning these types of medications.

  • Learn about the effects and side effects. For example, ask when the medication should begin to help and in what way. Also ask about what negative effects you should look out for.
  • Tell your doctor about any other drugs (both prescription and over-the-counter), herbal supplements, or alternative therapies you are taking.
  • Find out when and how the medication should be stopped. Some cannot be stopped abruptly and must be tapered down under a doctor’s supervision.
  • Some medications are only effective if taken regularly. Be sure to ask what you should do if you accidentally miss a dose.

Therapy

Therapy involves talking with a trained mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or counselor, to discover what caused the anxiety disorder and how to deal with its symptoms. Therapists can help people change the thinking patterns that contribute to their fears and the ways they react to anxiety-provoking situations. A therapist can also teach new coping and relaxation skills and help resolve problems that cause anxiety.

What else can I do to help relieve my anxiety?

  1. Acknowledge worries and address any fears that can be handled. For example, if an individual is worried about finances, a visit to a financial planner may be helpful.
  2. Talk with family, a friend, or spiritual leader about your worries. Sometimes voicing them can be a big relief.
  3. Adopt stress management techniques, meditation, prayer, and deep breathing. Because anxiety is so tied to a physical response, relaxation techniques can be very helpful.
  4. Exercise regularly and when stress builds up. Even a short walk can help alleviate tension and anxiety symptoms.
  5. Avoid things that can aggravate the symptoms of anxiety disorders:
    • Caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, chocolate)
    • Nicotine (smoking)
    • Over-the-counter cold medications
    • Illegal drugs
    • Certain herbal supplements
    • Alcohol
  6. Limit news of current events. It is important to stay current, but too much negative news can contribute to anxiety.
  7. Allow time for treatment to work. Treatment is not a quick fix. It takes time, patience, and perseverance.
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Caregiver’s Guide to Brain Injury Rehabilitation

The goal of rehabilitation is to help your loved one live and function as independently as possible. Rehabilitation helps the body heal and assists the brain in relearning processes so that an individual recovers as quickly and efficiently as possible. Rehabilitation will also help the person with Brain Injuries learn new ways to do things if any previous abilities have been lost.

After your loved one’s initial life-saving treatment at the time of the injury, he or she will most likely start a rehabilitation program and will work with a team of specialists. The person with an injury and his or her family are the most important members of the rehabilitation team. Family members should be included in the rehabilitation and treatment as much as possible. Some of the other professionals who may be part of this team include:

  • Neurologists – doctors who are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of nervous system disorders, including diseases of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and muscles.
  • Occupational, physical, speech and language therapists – therapists that help the person regain thinking skills, communication skills, physical abilities and behavioral skills.
  • Neuropsychologists – specialized psychologists who focus on thinking skills and behavior problems.
  • Vocational rehabilitation experts – employment coaches who help with regaining job skills.

Some of the different types of rehabilitation facilities include:

  • Acute rehabilitation – an intensive rehabilitation program.
  • Coma treatment centers – provide coma-specific medical care.
  • Transitional living programs – nonmedical residential programs that teach skills for community living.
  • Long-term care and supervised living programs – residential facilities that provide care and
  • rehabilitation to people with brain injuries who are not able to live independently.
  • Behavior management programs – typically community-based (i.e., not residential) programs that teach self-control and appropriate social behaviors.
  • Day treatment programs – provide rehabilitation during the day so the person can return home at night.

Recovering from a brain injury is a process and is individual to each person and family. One of the major impacts that stroke has on quality of life is the way that it affects a person’s emotions and relationships. There are hardships that immediately come to mind – communication problems, mobility limitations, cognitive impairment – but there are also complex social and emotional stressors that impact well-being. Stroke affects emotions, and in turn, relationships and social functioning among stroke victims and family, friends, and/or caregivers. It is important to remember that rehabilitation may last weeks or even years and that your loved one will benefit from the ability to receive rehabilitation services throughout this time. Appropriate programs and treatments will also change as your family member’s needs change. Choosing Ernest Health is a huge step forward on the road to recovery!

References:

www.biausa.org

www.caregiver.org

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What to Expect from Rehabilitation

Last week we covered identifying and understanding brain injuries. If you or a loved one you know has had a brain injury or are at risk for a brain injury, knowing what rehabilitation will consist of can be comforting during a stressful time. There are many physical and emotional challenges that can discourage both the patient and the caregiver.

Brain injury is a broad category that refers to any injury to the brain which impairs functioning. The injury may be mild, severe, traumatic, or caused by associated medical problems; however, the goal of rehabilitation is the same – help patients gain the most independent level of functioning possible. Whether the brain was injured during a stroke, a fall, or even an electric shock, the goal of Ernest Health is to get our patients back to a place where they can manage and hopefully flourish in daily life. Rehabilitation therapists form a team, together with the patient and family/caregiver(s), to achieve the best possible outcome.

REHABILITATION AFTER BRAIN INJURY:

Rehabilitation after a brain injury is more likely to involve several types of therapists and practitioners on our staff because of the effect that a brain injury can have on multiple parts of the body. A physical therapist would help the individual regain range of movement and strength, like in the case of a patient who has had a stroke and subsequent paralysis. An occupational therapist caring for the same patient might work with him or her on dressing, eating, and completing household chores. A speech pathologist might work with the patient on swallowing and communication. Still other practitioners such as psychologists and social workers would aid in psychological, emotional, and social assessment and care.

Just as with any type of rehabilitation, a patient’s treatment plan is highly individualized. A patient who has experienced a stroke may need different types and degrees of therapy than a person who was in a car accident. It all depends on the extent and impact of the injury. Likewise, one’s treatment may vary according to life stage, age, and daily needs. This individualization greatly benefits our patients and their families.

However, Brain Injuries are so much more than a series of physical consequences. One of the major impacts that brain injuries have on the quality of life is the way that they affect a person’s emotions and relationships. There are hardships that immediately come to mind – communication problems, mobility limitations, cognitive impairment – but there are also complex social and emotional stressors that impact well-being.

 

Knowing what to expect from brain injuries can be especially useful for the caregiver. Being a caregiver requires constant encouraging and optimism, but that can be wearying. Next week we cover brain injury rehabilitation for the caregiver.

For more information on brain injury, go to www.biausa.gov.

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Understanding Brain Injuries

Brain injury is unpredictable in its consequences. Brain injury affects who we are, the way we think, act and feel. It can change everything about us in a matter of seconds. The most important things to remember include:

  • A person with a brain injury is a person first.
  • No two brain injuries are exactly the same.
  • The effects of a brain injury are complex and vary greatly from person to person.
  • The effects of a brain injury depend on such factors as cause, location, and severity.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

A TBI is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild,” i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness to “severe,” i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury.

2.4 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Injury Prevention, the leading causes of TBI are:

  • Falls (35.2%)
  • Motor vehicle-traffic crashes (17.3%)
  • Struck by/against events (16.5%)
  • Assaults (10%)

Acquired Brain Injury

An acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain, which is not hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or induced by birth trauma. An acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain that has occurred after birth.

There is sometimes confusion about what is considered an acquired brain injury. By definition, any traumatic brain injury (e.g., from a motor vehicle accident, or assault) could be considered an acquired brain injury. In the field of brain injury, acquired brain injuries are typically considered any injury that is nontraumatic. Examples of acquired brain injury include stroke, near drowning, lack of oxygen to the brain, tumor, neurotoxins, electric shock or lightening strike.

An Injured Brain

When a brain injury occurs, the functions of the neurons, nerve tracts, or sections of the brain can be affected. If the neurons and nerve tracts are affected, they can be unable or have difficulty carrying the messages that tell the brain what to do. This can change the way a person thinks, acts, feels, and moves the body. Brain injury can also change the complex internal functions of the body, such as regulating body temperature; blood pressure; bowel and bladder control. These changes can be temporary or permanent. They may cause impairment or a complete inability to perform a function.

www.biausa.org

 

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Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital wins Fuller Cup Award

Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital recently earned The Fuller Cup award from Ernest Health in recognition of its outstanding operations this past year. The hospital is part of Ernest Health, which consists of 25 rehabilitation and long-term acute hospitals nationwide.

The award, which is named after David Fuller, one of the founders of Ernest Health, is given annually to the hospital that achieves outstanding operational results by following the company’s guiding principles, which include treating patients and employees with dignity and respect, valuing teamwork, striving to improve patient satisfaction, and promoting a healing and nurturing environment.

Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital was selected for the award after showing exemplary results with the following:

  • Patient satisfaction
  • Financials and budgeting
  • Patient safety
  • Community contributions
  • Clinical and patient outcomes

Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital provides specialized inpatient and outpatient physical rehabilitative services to more than 700 patients a year, serving Wyoming and neighboring states. The provides specialized rehabilitative services to patients recovering from disabilities caused by injuries, illnesses, or chronic medical conditions, including strokes, orthopedic, brain and spinal cord injuries.

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Eating Out and Staying Healthy

There are many facets to living a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are the obvious ones. A healthy diet is easiest when you do the cooking yourself. You can control what goes into the dish which controls the calories and nutrition of the whole meal.

But sometimes, a person just needs a break from their daily routine. A chance to recharge and regroup before starting all over again the next day. The solution can be as simple as a meal outside the house.

We know that when you’re watching what you eat, staying healthy when eating out can cause stress or guilt which are not relaxing feelings. Luckily, more restaurants are evolving their menus to fit the demand for healthier, calorie friendly options. We’ve got a satisfying selection of restaurants in the Casper area that are offering healthier menu options:

RESTAURANTS WITH HEALTHY OPTIONS

These restaurants provide a simple way to indulge without derailing your weight loss and fitness goals. They are also a great way to beat the heat of the stove without all the guilt.

WHEN THERE’S NO LIGHT MENU

What about those times, though, when a healthy menu isn’t available? It can be pretty easy to give yourself a free pass for the night and feel bad about it later. You can’t always control where you eat, either. We’ve got some tips you can use to achieve satisfaction and avoid over-indulgence:

  • Choose water or unsweetened tea to go with your meal. Allow your food to provide your calories for you, rather than a sugary drink.
  • Keep the dressing on the side. By starting your meal with a serving of vegetables, you’ll satisfy your body’s needs for nutrients and set the stage for a healthier meal. Putting the dressing on the side allows you to use the amount you need, rather than the amount you’re given.
  • Order the “small” or “half” portion. Many restaurants offer a “half size” of their entrees, which will help you indulge without overeating.
  • Pack leftovers right away. Ask for a to-go box as soon as your food is delivered. Immediately packing half of your meal removes the excess food from your vision and ensures a delicious meal for tomorrow.
  • Share an entrée and appetizer. Appetizers, unfortunately, often lead to overeating. Many people end up eating enough for a meal before their entrees even reach the table. If you must have those bacon-wrapped shrimp, try sharing them with your dining partner. You could also choose to split your entrée, which would result in a satisfying meal that doesn’t hurt your wallet.

Here at Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital, we love being able to share with our patients the healthy lifestyle options Casper has to offer. If you have more tips or another favorite restaurant that offers light options, we’d be thrilled to hear from you.

Sources:

http://www.choosemyplate.gov/healthy-eating-tips/tips-for-eating-out.html

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Online Information You Can Trust

If you know how to use the Internet, chances are you’ve done a random search for health information. You’ve searched “cardiac rehabilitation” or “stroke outcomes” or “spinal injury” and you were met with thousands of results that ranged from logical to terrifying and everything in between. But how do you know what information is correct? What sites should you trust? While talking with your physician is always the best source of information, doing your own research can give you a good foundation for understanding basic medical terms and processes as well as helping to form a language for asking questions.

When looking for health information, you should look to websites that present the same researched, peer-reviewed, and up-to-date information that your physicians are getting. These websites take scholarly results, like your physicians read in medical journals and hear at conferences, and make them accessible to the public. For this type of reliable information we suggest turning to one of these websites:

  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – Most people associate the CDC with infectious diseases, but their research and website covers much more than the flu and Ebola. Their site has valuable information on our nation’s most pervasive conditions – heart disease, cancer, diabetes — as well as just about any other condition you might search for. The website also contains information on healthy living, traveler health, emergency preparedness, and much more.
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) – The National Institutes of Health is a clearinghouse for up-to-date health research and information. What’s presented on their website (and through their branch institutes’ sites) is reader-friendly, cutting edge health news. The NIH funds medical research across the country and is a top-tier source for reliable health information.
  • National Associations, such as American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and American Stroke Association, just to name a few. These sites not only present helpful, practical information but they also have stories of success and encouragement.
  • But what if you still have the urge to type things into a search engine and see what comes up?
  • The National Institute on Aging , a branch of the NIH, gives this helpful checklist to help you determine if the health information you are reading can be trusted.

A QUICK CHECKLIST

  1. Can you easily see who sponsors the website?
  2. Is the sponsor a Federal agency or a medical school, or is it related to one of these?
  3. Can you find the mission or goal of the sponsor of the website?
  4. Can you see who works for the agency or organization and who is the author? Is there contact information?
  5. Can you tell when the information was written?
  6. Is your privacy protected?
  7. Does the website make claims that seem too good to be true? Are quick, miraculous cures promised?

The most important advice that we can give you regarding online health information is this: If you are experiencing troubling health symptoms, always see a physician. And certainly, if it seems like an emergency, as in the case of a stroke, heart attack, fall, etc., call 911. Online health information can help us understand our diagnosis or that of a loved one, but it takes a health professional to diagnosis and treat disease or injury.

Resources
https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/online-health-information

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Starting a Health Journal

There is an importance of compiling a medical history, and while a record of your medical history is essential to your doctor-patient relationship, there are even more ways to improve on it.

One of those ways is by keeping a health journal, which is a very detailed record of your daily activities, diet, medications, and feelings.

Reasons to keep a health journal:

A health journal can be a great way to keep track of the general state of your body, the effectiveness of your current lifestyle, and weight loss progress. The ability to look back on your previous activities and food consumption provides an accurate and expansive window through which you can assess your habits, and make decisions based off of the information you’ve collected.

Many people with chronic pain or concerning symptoms rely on a health journal to stay on top of their medical issues and improve communication with their physicians. Cross-referencing flare-ups and symptomatic occurrences with activities and foods can shed light on triggers.

What to record in your health journal:

Sleep: How did you sleep the night before? How long did you sleep? What time did you go to bed, and what did you do before you fell asleep?

Medications: If you take any medications, vitamins, or supplements, record what they are and when you take them.
Physical Activity: Any exercise or out-of-the-ordinary strenuous activity can have a significant impact on your health, and should definitely be included.

Symptoms: Any physical symptoms you experience should be recorded in detail. What time you experience them and the level of severity and length should be noted.

Food/Drink: Record anything you consume throughout the day, and be as detailed as possible. What did you eat, and how much? Where did you eat? Who prepared the food?

Emotions: Health is about more than simply the physical aspects. Being aware of your mood and recording any drastic changes is essential to health tracking.

 Helpful hints/how to get started:

Talk to your doctor. Even if you are starting a journal simply for general health observation, it can be very helpful to ask your doctor what to include. Based on your medical history, he or she might have specific concerns or insight that will aid in accuracy and effectiveness.

Find a journal that works for you. The options for a health journal are endless. Even something as simple as a one subject notebook with each day’s date at the top of the page can work if that’s a format that you favor. There are also options for printable journal pages, and even apps that keep all of your information on your smart device.

Keep your journal in an easily-accessible place. Whether it’s your kitchen, purse, or bathroom, keep your health journal in a place that you frequently visit or use. The kitchen is usually ideal, because foods, beverages, and medicines are often found there. Recording what you eat is much easier when the diary is close to the refrigerator.

Be honest. Recording false or altered information, for whatever reason, will only deter your efforts as you try to assess your health. Remember that your doctor is on your side, and that open communication is essential to the doctor/patient relationship.

We hope you’ll find these tips useful in enhancing your health care experience. We deeply value honesty between our patients and team members, and a health journal can be an incredible tool in that line of communication.

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There’s an App for That

February is American Heart Month. It’s a great time to make strides in taking better care of your body and your health. But, while we all know we should take better care of ourselves, it’s actually easier said than done. Find ways to motivate and challenge ourselves and track our progress can be truly helpful.

Now, this very motivation and accountability is available—literally–at your fingertips. With the increase in smart phones has come an increase in apps (applications) to meet every need you could imagine. Health and wellness is no exception.

We’re here to share a list of our favorite apps to help you stay healthy. Most are free or cost less than $5 to download.

c8a0a1732d32c3f08d571880c75a1473fad84013Daily Burn

Description: Of all the apps, this one does the best job of combining exercise and diet. Not only are you able to log your daily meals and snacks, you can also scan barcodes of food items to find full nutritional value. This app also creates sample workout plans for a variety of levels.
Cost: Free
Learn more hereMyFitnessPal_Logo

My Fitness Pal

Description: Track calories in and calories out with My Fitness Pal. You can track each item of your meals and snacks as well as the calories burned from your daily exercise. If what you’re looking for is accountability to help you stay on track, this is a great app for you!
Cost: Free
Learn more here

0x0ss-85FitJourney

Description: FitJourney helps you track your weight loss by photographs. It keeps track of your weight, what you’ve eaten (with photographs as well), and can even give a decent estimate of your BMI. The visual component is powerful in helping you in your journey to lose weight, but the one big downside to this app is that it doesn’t offer much guidance, just accountability. For the self-motivated, visual person, it’s a great fit!
Cost: Free
Learn more hereunnamed

Nike Training Club

Description: The Nike Training Club app actually works like a personal trainer, containing a variety of workouts that include strength and cross training, cardio, and yoga. With videos to help you see what each move should look like, you’re never in the dark with any of your workouts. The one negative to this app is that if you are a beginner, it might be best to wait a few weeks after you’ve begun exercising to try it, or you may have to modify some of the workouts to fit your needs.
Cost:  Free
Learn more hereicon175x175

Fitness Builder

Description:  FitnessBuilder contains the largest library of exercise images & videos (over 7,000) produced with excellent form by our exercise physiologist, physical therapy and orthopedist team. It features the most challenging workouts across all disciplines (over 900), access to a live personal trainer and the most complete set of workout building & performing tools, fitness calculators, tracking, scheduling and progress graphing features –on this app and syncing to the web. If you are a beginner, this might not be the app for you. However, if you have a solid working out experience, you will definitely benefit from this one!
Cost:  This app is free for one month. After that trial period, the Plus version costs $7. It’s the most expensive version, but definitely worth it.
Learn more hereLoseItIconLarge

Lose It!

Description: This app is another great option to track your calories consumed and burned. Another great feature is that it allows you to set goals of what you would like to consume for proteins, fats, carbs, etc. It also tracks your progress and allows you to connect with friends to receive accountability and encouragement.
Cost: Free
Learn more heresporty_gavsus

Fooducate

Description:  Lose weight, track your progress, and eat REAL food. This is one of the only apps that looks beyond the calorie and helps you eat healthy and tasty. Scan a product barcode to see what’s really in your food. Fooducate will also show you healthier alternatives. The one thing some may not love about this app is that real food substitutes often require cooking from scratch. If you are pressed for time, it can can be difficult to cook from scratch. However, we think that cooking from scratch can be fun and gets faster with time!
Cost:  Free, or “Plus” version available for $3.99
Learn more hereunnamed 9.58.52 AM

My Diet Coach

Description:  (Note: this app is only available for women) My Diet Coach helps keep you motivated and committed to lose weight fast. It will motivate you, help keep you on track, resist food cravings, temptations, emotional eating, exercise laziness and other challenges by motivational arguments and guidelines, helpful and necessary reminders, notifications with your goal, and motivational photos and weight chart.
Cost: Free, an upgraded version is available for $0.99
Learn more hereyaFl1DAS

Couch to 5K

Description: If one of your goals is to run a 5K, this is the app for you. The popular Couch to 5K program is a great way to help you exercise more and meet a specific goal at the end of your time.
Cost: Free
Learn more heremzl.hdtbpfba

Gympact

Description: This app is the most unique, and is also a fairly new app. The idea behind it is really great, but we don’t know a lot about how well it works. Each week you set your exercise and healthy eating goals each week and put a monetary value with each goal (working out a certain number of times each week, eating fruits or vegetables with every meal, etc). You snap photos of each meal and have them verified by other members, and check in to the gym, or track workouts via GPS and accelerometer. As you meet your goals, you will receive weekly notifications of your earnings. Missing a goal will cost, however!
Cost: Free
Learn more here 

With such a wide range of apps available to meet every kind of fitness goal and plan, it’s easier than ever to live healthy. Which apps are your favorite? We would love for you to share them in the comments below!
Note: as always, before you begin any exercise routine, it is important to consult with your doctor and get the best insight into what kind of exercise and what level is best for you. These apps are merely suggestions, and should be used until you have spoken with your doctor more.

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Take Part in Your Healthcare

It’s normal to have questions and anxieties when facing any kind of health issue, whether it’s an illness, injury, surgery, recovery, etc. Every patient wants to receive the best care possible, but did you know that patients play a big role in the care that they receive? Inherent in any medical care is relationships — relationships between the patient and practitioners (physicians, therapists, nurses, etc.). When patients come prepared with the best knowledge of their symptoms, medical history, and current circumstances, the practitioners have a better understanding of their patients and can offer the best treatment plan.

So what does it mean to “come prepared”?

PARTICIPATING IN YOUR HEALTHCARE: 1. MAKE A LIST

Time with practitioners is often limited, so by making a list of things you’d like to address you will make the most of that limited time. What symptom(s) is worrying you the most? Try to pinpoint when it started and anything that makes it better or worse. Avoid waiting until the practitioner is leaving the room to bring up another symptom or concern. Undivided attention is important in patient/practitioner communication.

PARTICIPATING IN YOUR HEALTHCARE: 2. COMMUNICATE YOUR CONCERNS AND DESIRES

Patients will often hesitate to discuss financial or family concerns to practitioners. Health issues can be scary and it’s not easy to talk about them, even with your own doctors. Practitioners understand that medical problems and treatment are both financially and emotionally taxing. Don’t be afraid to communicate those concerns! Are you worried about how you will pay for your healthcare and prescriptions? There may be programs to help you. If your practitioner doesn’t immediately know the answer he/she will direct you to a staff member who can help. Does your family need help coping with the stress of your illness or recovery? Support groups and/or counseling can do that. Let your practitioners know you need it!

PARTICIPATING IN YOUR HEALTHCARE: 3. ASK QUESTIONS

Don’t hesitate to ask, “What does that mean?” if a physician says something that goes over your head. If you don’t ask, the practitioner will assume you understand all that is being said. Ask about surgery risks, expected outcomes, prescribed medications and therapies. Tell your physician, therapist, nurse, etc. what you hear them saying. Make sure you’re all on the same page before anyone leaves the room. You might even think of questions in the middle of the grocery store or while watching TV — write them down and ask them at your next appointment.

Remember, you are an active participant in your own healthcare. You are an expert on your body, your circumstances, your life. Your doctors are experts at what they do but they need your expertise on YOU in order to provide the best healthcare.

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Winter Care Tips for Seniors

The winter season presents specific risks and challenges that can be exaggerated for older adults. We value the safety of our patients while they are with us and certainly once they go home. Because of this we believe that it’s important to be prepared for the risks that winter weather can bring. Here are seven safety tips to help mitigate those risks.
  1. Keep warm. Older adults are at a greater risk of developing hypothermia — a dangerous drop in body temperature — during cold weather. Aging lowers one’s ability to withstand longer periods of cold, even from just sitting in a colder than normal room. Certain conditions and medications can also affect a person’s ability to sense cold, making them especially vulnerable. Because of this, older people should keep indoor temps above 65 degrees and look for the warning signs of hypothermia – shivering, cold and pale or ashy skin, abnormal fatigue, sudden confusion, and/or slowed breathing and heart rate. If you notice these symptoms call 911 immediately.
  2. Avoid falls. While falls are a constant concern regardless of weather, seniors need to be especially vigilant in avoiding falls during the winter. Ice, snow, and mobility impeded by cold temperatures can wreak havoc on a normally safe environment. Given the particularly dangerous nature of falls in older adults, it is crucial for individuals and their loved ones to keep steps and walks clear of snow, ice, and other potential fall hazards. Be especially cautious when using canes, walkers, crutches, etc. on snow and ice.
  3. Watch for wintertime depression. It’s not uncommon for older adults to alter their social engagements during the winter months because of the cold and inclement weather. While this seems like a good idea in terms of limiting exposure to winter illnesses and avoiding fall risks, it can actually have a negative impact on one’s mental and emotional well-being. Staying active and finding alternative social outlets is a big factor in avoiding wintertime depression. If you have older family members who are at risk of becoming isolated, make an effort to visit, call, or arrange activities to keep their spirits high.
  4. Eat a varied diet. When it’s cold outside we’re less likely to get the sun exposure that we need for our bodies to produce Vitamin D, and we tend to eat a less varied diet. Eating foods with Vitamin D, like milk, grains, and certain seafood can help with this deficit. You might even talk with your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement.
  5. Prepare for emergencies. Winter storms can cause a variety of problems including long-lasting power outages and snowed- or iced-in conditions. It is essential to be prepared for such events before they occur. The CDC website has a wealth of information on preparing for extreme cold conditions. They have created a printable document – Extreme Cold Guide – that includes information for what to do before, during, and after a winter storm. Tips include storm preparation, safety checklists, and health information. This guide is a valuable clearinghouse for anyone preparing for winter weather. [1]
  6. Drive safely. While safe driving practices are always paramount, hazards can be exaggerated during inclement weather. It is important to know one’s limits when it comes to operating a vehicle. If you don’t feel comfortable driving in ice and snow, ask a friend or family member for a ride. Another concern on the road is emergency preparedness. Make sure you have supplies in your car to keep you safe in case of a stranding or accident. Warm blankets and clothes, food, a flashlight, and an ice scraper should be standard equipment in the car. Always travel with a cell phone and charger in case you have an emergency. Another way to avoid problems is to have your car winterized by a trusted professional.
  7. Maintain safe heating. It is vitally important to keep heaters, fireplaces, furnaces, etc. in good working order and free of clutter to avoid fires and carbon monoxide leaks. Beyond having these devices checked by a professional, you should have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure the detectors are properly installed on every floor and are in good working condition. Each bedroom and sleeping area should have its own smoke detector. [2]
By following these basic safety tips you and your loved ones can reduce the risk of serious problems this winter. Stay warm and be safe!
Resources:
  1. http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/guide.asp
  2. http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/fire-and-safety-equipment/smoke-alarms
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Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital Recognized Among Top 10 Percent in United States

Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital has been ranked in the top 10 percent of inpatient rehabilitation facilities in the United States for the 7th consecutive year.

The ranking was provided by the Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation (UDSMR), a not-for-profit corporation that was developed with support from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, a component of the U.S Department of Education.

The UDSMR ranks rehabilitation facilities based upon care that is patient-centered, effective, efficient, and timely. Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital was ranked this past year out of 783 inpatient rehabilitation facilities nationwide.

We continually strive to provide high quality care to our patients, so it’s exciting to be recognized as a national leader – especially for 7 years in a row,” says Mike Phillips, CEO of Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital.But what I’m most pleased about is that patients right here in our community can receive the highest level of rehabilitative care available nationally without having to leave the area.

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 7th consecutive year is a testament to the exceptional care our staff brings every day to meet the rehabilitation needs of Wyoming’s citizens.

UDSMR, which administers the world’s largest medical rehabilitation database, provides common language and measurement tools to monitor patient results. The data used for the most current ranking was based on 12 months of information from 2014 from both Medicare and non-Medicare patients. The results were combined and weighted into a score, and each facility was then assigned a percentile rank.

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