Health and Fitness

Doing the Best We Can in the Time We Have

As a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physician, I work everyday with patients that have suffered heartbreaking traumatic injuries and life-changing medical events. Unfortunately, at times, it can leave you feeling helpless and discouraged.

Our goal in physical rehabilitation is to get as many people as possible home at the highest possible functioning level. As Mother Theresa said in one of her many great Instagram posts, “It is not important how we live, but how well we live. Hopefully we can help add meaning to our patient’s lives every day.

Often times, our young therapists will get saddened and frustrated by discharge conditions that are less than ideal. When they begin to feel this way, I remind them that all we can do is the best that we can in the time that we have. No single person can save the whole world. One of my favorite 20th century philosophers Fred Rogers, a.k.a. Mr. Rogers took it one step further and said that doing what we can with what we have is the most we should expect of ourselves or anyone else.

Stay well!!

Health and Fitness

Bone and Joint Health Action Week

Bone and joint health national action week takes place on October 12 to the 20th each year. It centers around discussions and actions on preventing and treating arthritis, back pain, trauma, pediatric conditions affecting bones, and osteoporosis

The Bone and Joint Health National Action Week is cosponsored by the US Bone and Joint Initiative and the Global Alliance for Musculoskeletal Health. Their goal is to improve the prevention of bone and joint problems and to increase awareness of treatment options, resources, and research.

Millions of baby boomers born between 1945 and 1964 are entering the ranks of retired workers and signing up for Medicare. They are simultaneously the most active and at-risk older population. They are entering our offices with a multitude of bone and joint pain complaints.

As an Osteopathic Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physician, I instruct my patients on the critical need to care for their joints and bones. It is a multipronged approach that includes good weight maintenance, good diet and adequate calcium and vitamin D intake, as well as gentle range of motion and strengthening exercises to maintain strength and balance and prevent falls. My favorite exercises for joint and bone health remain yoga and tai chi.

Before I close, I would like to give kudos to the American Osteopathic Association for having our backs the last couple weeks. After it was discovered that the President’s physician was a DO, there were some unfortunate mischaracterizations of Osteopathic Physicians on media outlets such as CNN and the Rachel Maddow show. DOs are fully licensed physicians, as are MDs, and can practice in any specially including infectious disease. Although we are educated to take a more holistic approach to treating the patient, the length of time Osteopathic Association‘s, DOs train and the content included is equivalent to Allopathic Physicians, MDs. #@AOAforDOs

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Active Listening

They taught us in medical school that if you listen to our patients long enough, they will tell us what’s wrong with them. It sounds like an obvious statement, but it can be easily forgotten.

Active listening is a communication technique that is used in counseling, training, and conflict resolution. It requires that the listener fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said.

Bryant H McGill said that “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.“ We owe that to our patients. By actively listening, we let patients know that we care and respect what they have to say.

It is important if you’re talking with someone and you want to let them know that you care and are truly listening that you monitor your behavior. It’s important to avoid checking your devices and truly listen. Don’t spend your time thinking about responses but rather maintain good eye contact and ask good follow-up and relevant questions.

This week I am spending two days in the American Osteopathic Association virtual House of Delegates meeting. It reinforces the fact that genuine, active listening can be work. In the end, however, is worth it. Resolutions are presented and active deliberation occurs before decisions are made. When active listening occurs, people come away satisfied that they have been heard and fair decisions are made.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Save Lives: Clean Your Hands

Ignaz Semmelweis was a 19th century Hungarian physician who is known as the pioneer of handwashing. In 1847, he proposed the practice of washing hands with chlorinated lime solution while working in Vienna General Hospital‘s first obstetric clinic. Because of his use of disinfection, countless lives were saved and he became known as the “savior of mothers”.

What Dr. Semmelweis discovered is something that still holds true today: handwashing is one of the most profound and important tools in public health.

It’s hard to believe that even today, with our current COVID-19 pandemic challenge, our most powerful tools remain handwashing and wearing masks. Unfortunately, convincing healthcare providers to take hand washing more seriously remains a challenge. Thousands of hospitalized patients still get infections every year and hand hygiene remains one of the most important ways to prevent them.

The World Health Organization’s campaign to Save Lives: Clean Your Hands is a global initiative to bring people together in support of hand hygiene. It is part of a major global effort to improve hand hygiene and health care.

The campaign aims to galvanize action at the point of care and demonstrate that hand hygiene goes hand-in-hand with healthcare associated infections and patient safety.

With our current pandemic, these dedicated actions are more crucial than ever.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Turn off that TV

As I travel throughout the week to different healthcare facilities, I am struck by the fact that televisions are on in virtually every room I go into. Even though I know this could never happen, I would love to see healthcare facilities remove televisions from patients rooms and have one communal room for intentional TV viewing.

They say that sitting is the new smoking. Not all sitting however is the same. Sitting and watching television is the worst. Television bombards you with content that you passively receive. Overtime, this affects analytical and creative thinking. Further, if it is on while you you are attempting to sleep, it prevents you from entering deep restorative sleep and disrupts your sleep cycle.

Watching TV disrupts the mental engagement that would cue you to let you know your stomach is full. This as well as the constant presence of advertisements for hyper palatable foods frequently leads to over-eating.

Obviously watching too much TV takes away from physical activities. This leads to obesity as well as many other health problems. These include increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and early death.

I came across a great quote by Annie Dillard. It says “How we spend our days is, of course how we spend our lives.“ In short, live an intentional life. Intentional living is doing that you want to do and plan to do. It’s OK to watch television if you plan to do it and do it in moderation. Focus on it and enjoy it. If taken to excess, and always on in the background of our sleeping and waking lives, it detracts from an intentional life.

Stay well!