Health

Physical Therapy

Brain Fitness Breast Cancer Screening Medicare Plan Children's Health Treating
Sleep Apnea
Cancer Experience Registry A Better Smile

How Physical Therapy Can Help
Your Health And Wealth

(NAPSI)—No matter where you hurt—neck, shoulder, back, knee—physical therapy may improve your quality of life and save you time, trouble and money.

With physical therapy, you’ll be better able to move freely without discomfort, feel renewed and maybe avoid injury altogether.

It may also help you avoid painful, invasive and expensive surgery. Research shows that physical therapy, combined with comprehensive medical management, can be just as effective as surgery when it comes to relieving such conditions as osteoarthritis of the knee.

What’s more, falls among the elderly are prevalent, dangerous, and can diminish their ability to lead an active and independent life. According to the National Council on Aging, about one in three people over 65 will fall at least once this year, perhaps with disastrous consequences. A physical therapist can design an individualized program of exercises and activities with an emphasis on strength, flexibility and proper gait.

Despite all the advantages of physical therapy, some people are not getting all they should and that their doctors have prescribed because of high co-payments. These have caused many patients to face a sad dilemma: health care vs. making ends meet.

When co-payment plans were first introduced, it was thought they’d lower medical costs by decreasing unnecessary care. Empirical evidence, however, shows that high co-payments can actually increase health care costs.

According to research published in The New England Journal of Medicine, high co-payments led to patients skipping ambulatory care. This increased health care costs because the patients then needed more acute care, such as at a hospital, later on. The study concluded that “raising cost sharing for ambulatory care may have adverse health consequences and may increase total spending on health care.”

“When you have patients, who are in pain and recovering from injuries, avoiding medically necessary care because they can’t afford the high co-payments, you know there is a problem,” said Matthew R. Hyland, PT, Ph.D., MPA, CSCS, President of the New York Physical Therapy Association.

High co-payments, it appears, add to health care expense and make it hard for patients to get the treatment they need to stay healthy. Many Americans are going to www.house.gov and www.senate.gov to ask their legislators what can be done.

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Five Brain Fitness Tips

by Susan Grotenhuis

(NAPSI)—Here’s an idea to think about: To stay mentally sharp, sustained effort is key. It takes work to keep a complicated organ such as your brain in optimum condition.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be complicated. You can follow these five simple steps to keep your mind bright:

1. Change. By the time you reach retirement age, your brain has mastered many tasks. You have to think of creative ways to surprise it. So change is vital to brain health. Change your routines, change your environment, make new friends, have different conversations, listen to different music, try new foods. List the most familiar things in your life and then change them.

2. Think. Don’t let your brain get bored. Stimulate it with lots of new, refreshing information. Read articles, visit museums, study a new topic or take up a new hobby. That awkward feeling you may remember from your first day on the job is what you want to replicate. Try learning a foreign language or a musical instrument.

3. Move. Experts agree that aerobic exercise has the greatest benefit in terms of helping your brain stay young. Encourage important blood flow to the brain by doing at least 21/2 hours of moderate aerobic activity (brisk walking) each week. Start where you can and gradually build up from there. Setting small, monthly goals keeps your efforts focused and on track.

4. Eat smart. Keep those arteries—in your heart and your brain—from getting clogged with fat by eating plenty of fruits, veggies and whole grains. Stick with healthy fats such as those in nuts, avocados and olive oil. Include plenty of lean protein and fiber to round things out. Try to fill half your plate at each meal with fruits and vegetables. They’re full of anti-oxidants and supply important nutrients. Avoid white flour, generally found in breads and pastries. Losing any extra pounds can help, too. Maintaining a healthy weight means a better chance at a healthy brain.

5. Be happy. Human beings are social creatures. The brain is designed to interact with others and derives great benefit from close relationships. When you’re happy, your brain is happy. When you’re stressed or depressed, your brain releases a chemical called cortisol. Cortisol in small doses is useful for alertness and concentration. When it lingers, however, it attacks the cells in the hippocampus, where memories are formed. Getting plenty of sleep is also important for relaxing and renewing the mind.

• Ms. Grotenhuis is a certified Brain Fitness Facilitator with Asbury Communities, an aging services organization. For more information on Brain Fitness, visit www.Asbury.org/Perspective.

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Don’t Be Confused About Breast Cancer Screening

(NAPSI)—Many women—and their doctors—are taking issue with a recent study that suggests mammography is no better than annual clinical breast exams in reducing deaths from breast cancer.

The Problem

This particular study, conducted in Canada, involved women who had mammograms between 1980 and 1985, using older film-based mammography, the only technology available at the time. Digital mammography has been the gold standard for breast cancer screening for many years now because it provides better, more reliable results than film.

Expert Opinion

The doubters are not alone. The major professional organizations—the American Cancer Society, the American Medical Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American College of Radiology—recently reconfirmed their position calling for regular mammography screening for women beginning at the age of 40. These groups use experts in their field to make decisions based on the entire body of scientific data available to them, relying on rigorous, evidence-based findings.

Doctors Still Recommend Annual Mammograms

What’s more, dozens of studies have shown the importance of annual mammograms and the effectiveness of digital mammography. New technology, such as 3D mammograms, improves on this even more. 3D mammography detects breast cancers even before they can be seen using digital mammography. Since the chance for a cure is nearly 100 percent if breast cancer is detected before it spreads, 3D mammograms can be a very effective tool.

How it Works

As far as the patient is concerned, getting a 3D mammogram is pretty much the same as getting a traditional one. The difference is in how the images are captured and displayed to give doctors more accurate information. The equipment is used to produce a 3D view of the breast. Fine details are more clearly visible than on conventional mammograms, making it easier for doctors to spot abnormalities.

Anxiety Reduced

Older technologies like film mammograms led to more false positives than newer technologies like 3D mammograms. False positives can cause anxiety and even unnecessary medical procedures for some women. An important advantage of 3D mammography is its much greater accuracy, so doctors can more easily tell normal tissue from cancerous, can identify cancers that might be missed using film or even digital mammography, and reduce the need for callbacks to rule out the presence of disease in healthy women.

Learn More

Your best source of information about whether you should have a mammogram, and if so what kind, is your doctor. To learn more about 3D mammography, go to www.3DMammography.com.

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How Many Stars Does Your Medicare Plan Have?

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Movement Analysis: A Step In The Right Direction

(NAPSI)—Technology that’s used to make animated films in Hollywood’s dream factory is helping dreams come true for injured children and teens in several well-known hospitals.

Motion capture technology has been used in an innovative way to bring digital characters to life in films such as “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Polar Express.”

The technology is also used in movement analysis laboratories at Shriners Hospitals for Children to evaluate how children walk and determine the best care options.

How It Works

The purpose of the movement analysis laboratories, currently available at 12 of the Shriners Hospitals for Children that provide orthopaedic care, is to better observe and measure the ways patients with mobility impairments move, to understand how and why they move differently from children without mobility problems, to recommend care, and to evaluate the effectiveness of that care.

In the movement analysis laboratory, special high-speed cameras track the movement of reflective balls placed on the patient’s feet, legs, arms and torso. Other sensors on their skin tell which muscles are working. Force plates in the walkway measure how the patient is pushing on the ground. A pressure platform might also be used to tell how the ground force is spread over the bottoms of the patient’s feet and how the patient’s feet support the body.

All these pieces of data about the patient’s walking and other movement patterns are combined with information gathered during a detailed interview with the family and in a careful physical examination of the patient. An experienced, multidisciplinary team typically comprised of physicians, engineers, physical therapists and kinesiologists meets with the patient’s physician to review this information and recommend treatments, which might include bracing, physical therapy, medications or surgery.

Family-Centered Care

Shriners Hospitals for Children is a health care system of 22 locations dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing pediatric specialty care, conducting innovative research and offering outstanding teaching programs. To learn more, visit www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org.

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Treating Sleep Apnea Without Medication

(NAPSI)—Surprising as it may sound, excessive daytime tiredness may be linked to a person’s anatomy.

That’s the word from experts who say that sleep apnea—a serious disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep—can be a matter of not having enough space in the throat for the air to go down to the lungs.

As a consequence, your brain wakes you constantly throughout the night to breathe. That means you are enjoying only very light, fragmented and poor-quality sleep, leaving you still tired at the end of your night’s rest.

Many Cases Go Undiagnosed

Sleep apnea afflicts more Americans than asthma or diabetes and yet more than 75 percent remain undiagnosed.

This can present additional problems, since those with the condition tend to have high blood pressure, heart problems, stroke, depression and sexual dysfunction—and annual health care costs that are twice the average, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association.

A Successful Approach

Fortunately, the condition is treatable. However, as with other matters of anatomy, medication is not the answer. That’s because the space of the throat must be adjusted in order to take care of the problem.

One approach that has found success uses a dental device. Called an orthotic, it is similar in appearance to a sports mouth guard. “It moves the lower jaw forward and down slightly into an anatomically correct resting position, which keeps the airway open,” says Dr. Mark Duncan of the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies.

Numerous Benefits

An orthotic offers several benefits without surgery, including:

• Significant reduction in apneas for patients with mild to moderate apnea, particularly if patients sleep either on their backs or stomachs.

• Improvement and reduction in the frequency of snoring and loudness of snoring in most patients.

Training Is Important

It’s essential to properly measure and find the optimal, at-rest, natural jaw position in order to build an effective orthotic. Choosing a specially trained neuromuscular dentist who has both the training and computerized equipment is also critical. For example, the neuromuscular dentists from LVI are specially trained to fit this device.

To learn more, visit www.leadingdentists.com.

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How Cancer Patients Can Share,
Be Heard And Give Back

(NAPSI)—If you or someone you care about has ever been diagnosed with cancer, there is an online resource that may benefit you.

Where To Turn

People with any type of cancer can share their thoughts and concerns with others with similar experiences in the Cancer Experience Registry. It was launched by the Cancer Support Community (CSC), an international nonprofit organization that wants to ensure that everyone affected by cancer is empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action and sustained by community.

CSC’s Cancer Experience Registry is a research study for people living with cancer to talk about the issues they confront, listen to what others have to say and give back to the larger cancer community.

“We know that cancer patients at every stage of their journey have many concerns and that people can feel isolated or alone,” said Joanne Buzaglo, Vice President of Research and Training at CSC and a two-time cancer survivor. “Our Cancer Experience Registry provides patients with an opportunity to have their voices heard-and also to ‘pay it forward’ in a sense, to share what they have learned from their experience with other people who are facing these same kinds of issues.”

What You Get And Can Give

Anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer at any time can join. The process involves filling out a detailed survey to help identify the most important social and emotional issues for each individual. The data will be used to develop new programs, educational tools, policy initiatives and research projects aimed at improving the quality of care and outcomes for everyone impacted by cancer.

“The Cancer Experience Registry connects patients who are going through active treatment and those who are survivors in a way that allows us to make a difference in our own lives while we are helping others at the same time. By collecting and sharing this information, we are also identifying the gaps that exist today, not just in cancer care, but also in communication,” said Kay Johnson, a chronic myeloid leukemia survivor.

As the registry grows beyond its current level of over 6,000 members, CSC plans to add new programs for patients who share specific cancer diagnoses or concerns. The Registry also produces a monthly newsletter that addresses the full range of issues, from side effects to financial worries to diet and nutrition. It provides updates on the data from Registry participants and lets readers submit and respond to questions.

“The Cancer Experience Registry is a very rich and important resource for cancer patients,” said Kim Thiboldeaux, President and CEO of CSC, “but what makes it so special is that the insights we are gaining from the Registry come directly from the people who are living with cancer and help us identify and deepen our understanding of the often-overlooked needs of cancer patients.”

Where To Learn More

For more information or to join, visit www.CancerExperienceRegistry.org or call (888) 793-9355.

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Brace Yourself For A Better Smile

(NAPSI)—Here’s something to smile about: Whatever your age, wearing braces today doesn’t mean what it used to, and if you’re longing for a straighter smile, you’re not alone. More than 4 million people in the U.S. wear braces and more than 25 percent of them are adults.

There are many reasons. Some say not having a straight smile holds them back from landing a new job, getting a promotion, fitting in at school, or asking that special someone out on a date. Others see it as a way to improve their self-esteem and health, overall.

The good news is, with today’s orthodontic technology, you can avoid much of the appearance-related anxiety that traditional metal braces bring and opt for a more discreet, even invisible way to improve your smile and health. Consider these available options:

• Ceramic braces, similar to traditional braces, but with tooth-colored brackets instead of metal. Ceramic braces can correct even serious orthodontic issues but blend into the tooth for a more understated look. They’re so subtle that celebrities Tom Cruise and Faith Hill wore them on the red carpet. These tend to be the most wallet-friendly of the new generation of subtle braces. To see how you might look with ceramic braces, visit paintyoursmile.com and upload a photo to virtually “try on” Clarity ADVANCED Ceramic Braces from 3M.

• Clear aligners, custom mouthpieces made out of thin plastic, let you progress through wearing a series of aligners over the course of treatment. While this option is very discreet for most of the day, clear aligners need to be removed during meals. They also require a lot of self-discipline, since they must be worn at least 20 to 22 hours a day and losing an aligner delays completion of treatment. Not everyone can be treated with clear aligners, but your orthodontist can tell you if you’re a good candidate for these.

• Lingual braces are the most discreet option for people who want to keep their braces completely hidden. These use brackets on the back of your teeth, the “lingual” side, and don’t require much discipline—once they’re in, they stay put until your orthodontist removes them. They’re so hidden that Miss Teen USA contestants have competed while wearing them.

Incognito Hidden Braces from 3M are available with options to straighten your whole arch or just the “social six,” the teeth that are visible at the front of your mouth. These customized braces are often a good choice for professional adults or anyone who really wants to keep their orthodontic treatment to themselves. Learn more at hiddenbraces.com.

You don’t have to let a fear of “metal mouth” keep you from a beautiful, straight smile.

To find a nearby orthodontist, visit www.3MBraces.com.

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