Author Archive

Restored Hearing Restores Life

Ellen Wall had coped with a serious hearing loss in one ear nearly all her adult life. She was in her late teens when a hearing test confirmed virtual deafness in her left ear. The exact cause wasn’t determined.

Ellen Wall fitted with hearing aid and BiCROS hearing system at Gulf Coast Audiology.

Ellen enjoys talking to friends, now that she is wearing hearing aids.

Ellen never wore a hearing aid. She learned to compensate in other ways, such as sitting up front in class and closely watching facial expressions.

Her “good” ear did an adequate job until it, too, was affected. When she was 57, Ellen suffered severe injuries in a car accident. She was in the hospital and rehab for two and a half months.

Once home, she noticed it was harder to hear what her husband and daughter were saying. She was turning the television volume to ear-splitting levels.

“I’d been compensating for my hearing loss for so many years, but last year was pretty bad,” she recalls. “My husband and I were communicating, but I would say, What? a lot, and he would end up saying, Forget it.”

Her doctor referred her to board-certified audiologist Drianis Duran, AuD, at Gulf Coast Audiology.

Two-Sided Hearing

As part of a thorough examination, Dr. Duran conducted a hearing test and learned how Ellen’s hearing loss affected her.

The hearing test revealed Ellen’s right ear – the one she had relied on to compensate for deafness in her other ear – now had a severe hearing loss.

“Ellen was struggling tremendously. Her husband and daughter described it as a very difficult situation,”
notes Dr. Duran.

Dr. Duran recommended a hearing aid for Ellen’s right ear, plus another hearing system for the ear that had been virtually deaf most of her life. The system, called a BiCROS hearing aid, would give Ellen two-sided hearing. It streams sound from the deaf ear to the ear being assisted by a hearing aid; the result is improved awareness of surroundings as sounds are picked up from both sides of the body.

Ellen decided to get only a hearing aid for her right ear – it was a big change to start with – and forgo the BiCROS system. Her husband, Richard, and daughter, Katlyn, were at her appointment with
Dr. Duran when Ellen was fitted with her new hearing aid.

Katlyn recorded the event on video; Richard wept when he saw how the hearing aid helped Ellen.

“My husband started crying. He was so happy that I could hear again,” shares Ellen.

Ellen was so impressed by the difference in her hearing that she immediately decided to follow
Dr. Duran’s advice for a BiCROS hearing aid for her other ear.

“I decided right away that since my right ear was working so well again, if I had the BiCROS hearing aid, I’d hear everything,” remembers Ellen.

Wearing both hearing aids resulted in an even bigger improvement.

At home, communication has been restored. Ellen talks easily with her husband and daughter, and the television volume is no longer blaring. Ellen sets it at less than half of what she did before.

“I hear voices clearly. At one point, you couldn’t talk to me when my back was turned,” she explains. “And I’m hearing things I never heard before, like birds chirping and the wind.”

Ellen is grateful her physician referred her to Dr. Duran.

“Dr. Duran is wonderful. She made me feel at home, and she explained everything in normal terms so I could understand it. I was very comfortable with her,” offers Ellen. “I can’t believe I went all those years without hearing well. It’s so good that I’m hearing now. It’s like a miracle!”

Twenty Years Strong

A vision for the best in dental care flourishes in The Villages.

Twenty years ago, Edward J. Farrell, DMD, and his wife, Trish, decided to move from Orlando to where they could raise a family. Their search led them to Lake County, where Dr. Farrell opened a new practice, Village Dental.

Village Dental is celebrating its 20th year, with perspective from its four dentists and one of its first patients, Pauline Sawdey, age 83.

Pauline, who loves to play cards in The Villages, is thankful for the excellent dental care that keeps her smile healthy.

Dr. Farrell’s vision was to create a dental practice where patients felt welcomed. He wanted to provide comprehensive care in a friendly atmosphere that didn’t feel like a typical dentist’s office. He would also utilize the most technologically advanced equipment and keep up with best practices through continuing education.

Village Dental started with a single office, where Dr. Farrell was the solo dentist with a staff of five. Over the next two decades, as The Villages expanded, so did Village Dental. The esteemed dental practice now includes three locations in The Villages, four dentists, six dental hygienists and a dedicated staff of more than 35.

“We opened as the second dental practice in The Villages,” notes Dr. Farrell. “We’ve been blessed to grow with our partners and a great staff. And we’ve been so very fortunate to have the Villagers as our patients. They’re a remarkable team.”

The year after Village Dental opened, Richard P. Hall II, DMD, joined
Dr. Farrell, followed by Michael H. Hards, DDS, three years later and Pablo J. Sierra, DMD, in 2014.

The four dentists offer everything from periodontal work to dental implants to creation of natural-looking crowns and more that are completed on site.

All four have attained mastership status from the Academy of General Dentistry, putting Village Dental in a rare league. Only one percent of academy members achieve mastership, an accomplishment that requires hundreds of hours of continuing professional education and hands-on training in all phases of dentistry.

“Education and high-quality care have been of utmost importance to all of us,” emphasizes Dr. Hall. “I think our patients also appreciate that our practice is so friendly. By design, all three of our locations are really pleasant places to come to.”

Family-Like Atmosphere

Pauline Sawdey, now age 83, was one of Village Dental’s first patients in 1997. Her decision to seek a new dentist was impromptu, but turned out to be lasting.

“I had moved to The Villages and needed a dentist. I saw the Village Dental sign and went,” she recalls.

Immediately impressed by the warmth of the staff, she remained a loyal patient. She credits Dr. Farrell for the fact she has kept all of her natural teeth. Over the years, Pauline’s dental care has included several crowns and a routine of regular preventive visits.

“Dr. Farrell is just the greatest – he’s the best dentist I’ve ever gone to,” she states.

The Village Dental signature is Five Star Service that adds personalized pampering to dental care. Patients are provided with blankets and massage mats on their chairs and offered hot towels, among other perks. As they leave the office, they are presented with a red rose.

The camaraderie among staff members is evident, observes Pauline.

“The people at Village Dental all seem to get along so well in how they work together,” she stresses. “My dental hygienist, Beth, is very good. She makes it comfortable for me by talking to me. And even more importantly, she listens to me.”

Remarkable Patients

A remarkable aspect of Village Dental is its patients, notes Dr. Hards.

“One of the nice things about The Villages is that the residents have lived a lot of life and therefore tend to know what’s important,” he offers. “Many are very health conscious, and that’s one of the reasons the practice has done so well. We’ve focused on helping people keep their mouths healthy as part of keeping their whole bodies healthier.”

The newest member of the dental staff, Dr. Sierra, agrees that Village Dental is a special place and its patients are even more so. Three years ago, he joined the practice after moving from Citrus County.

“It’s been a very good fit,” he reflects. “We’re like a family providing the best care possible for our patients, which is our main priority.”

After 20 years, Village Dental is looking forward to many more years of serving residents of The Villages.

“There are a lot of new, happy smiles around The Villages, and I think our signature is on many of them,” says
Dr. Farrell. “Being in The Villages and serving our patients has been a wonderful blessing.”

FHCN article by Susan Hemmingway. Photo by Jordan Pysz. Graphic from mkb

Treatment Reverses Erectile Dysfunction

Men may be embarrassed to talk about it, but erectile dysfunction, or ED, is a common issue.allogeneic cord blood stem cell therapy for arthritic joints & GAINSWave™ for ED.

“Male sexual dysfunction in some form affects about fifty-two percent of men and more than half of those are aged forty to sixty,” notes Dr. Lupo.

It’s frequently related to impairment of the tiny blood capillaries in the penis and urogenital area, which hinders the natural erectile response. Vasculogenic issues, causing decreased blood flow, is estimated to affect some 80 percent of men with ED.

The risk of ED goes up in men who have hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Smoking also is a risk factor. All of these issues can affect the intricate blood flow and nerve function needed for a lasting erection.

Increasing blood flow in the right places is the basis of drugs for ED like Viagra® and Cialis®. However, not all men are able to take the medications because of contraindications, or they may experience adverse side effects.

An alternative is a non-drug procedure now at Physical Medicine Center. Called GAINSWave™, it works to improve blood flow through application of low-intensity sound waves to the urogenital region. The treatment also stimulates the growth of nerve tissue that is vital for achieving and maintaining healthy erections.

Because sexual health can affect overall well being, the impact of untreated ED can extend beyond the bedroom.

“We all want to feel good, be healthy and have great sex,” notes Dr. Lupo. “In fact, studies have shown that good sexual energy does many things for health and well-being such as decreased stress, a stronger functioning immune system, improved sleep, increased self-esteem and happiness and much more.”

Non-Drug Therapy

Men have experienced a renewed ability for healthier erections after only a few treatments of GAINSWave therapy, assures Dr. Lupo. In some cases, improvement occurs after a single treatment. The typical protocol at Physical Medicine Center is a series of six sessions, twice a week.

“GAINSWave’s ability to improve blood flow, increase new vascularization and increase nerve sensitivity in the urogenital region has been pretty phenomenal,” continues Dr. Lupo. “The erection ability is stronger, longer, better and more impressive. It’s taking men back to more youthful times in their lives without the necessity for medications.”

The noninvasive therapy is also used to successfully treat a painful syndrome that causes curvature of the penis, called Peyronie’s disease, that is the result of scar tissue.

Dr. Lupo explains that GAINSWave uses the same technology that has been effective for many years in the US and Europe to treat plant fasciitis, heel pain, knee pain, elbow pain, scar tissue, tendonitis and connective tissue injuries.

“GAINSWave emits concentrated blasts of sound waves akin to ultrasound or sonar technology,” he educates. “These sound waves travel faster than the speed of sound and when applied through the correct number of pulses, frequency and energy, they can have a positive effect on tissue to restore blood flow and nerve sensitivity.”

“We’re very encouraged by how GAINSWave has been used to treat hundreds of patients without harmful side effects. Any man who wants to restore youthful performance should call us to explore whether this is the right option for him.”

FHCN article by Susan Hemmingway. Photos by Jordan Pysz. Stock photos from mkb

Hearing Loss Doesn’t Discriminate

Hearing aids aren’t just for seniors.

Lou Hoffman first noticed trouble with his hearing in his 40s. Noisy restaurants and sports events were a challenge, places where he could hear but couldn’t always understand.

Deborah Faucette & Lou Hoffman fitted with hearing aids at Sound Advice Hearing Solutions.

Louis’ hearing aids connect wirelessly to his cell phone.

In other words, he could hear the chatter and background noise. It was a challenge, though, to decipher all the words when trying to carry on a conversation. He had similar experiences at business meetings. He didn’t always catch everything, resulting in jumbled communication.

“People would ask, Do you hear what I’m saying? They’d have to repeat themselves two or three times,” he shares.

Lou spent 22 years in the Army as a Special Forces officer. Exposure to high-
intensity sound, including gunfire and explosions, was part of the job and affected his hearing.

After he retired from active duty, Lou began a second career as a civilian working for the military. Now, age 66, he is about to embark on full retirement. He’ll have plenty of time for his passions: traveling to classic car shows with his wife, Kathy, and buying and selling Corvettes.

Four years ago, Lou started looking for a new hearing care provider. His research led him to Sound Advice Hearing Solutions, which has locations in St. Petersburg and Largo. As an independent hearing aid center, Sound Advice Hearing Solutions has access to all the top brands and therefore can tailor a product specifically to what a client needs.

The fact that Lou lives in Tampa didn’t deter him. He decided that top-notch care from the clinic’s hearing care professionals was worth the drive.

“During my first visit, they provided me with excellent customer service, which is very important to me. The fact that they offer a quality product combined with such good service made me stay with them,” he notes.

Lou has experienced how technology in hearing care has increased by leaps and bounds since he first started wearing hearing devices. Recently, he was fitted with an advanced pair of hearing aids at Sound Advice Hearing Solutions that are equipped with Bluetooth® connectivity and are able to improve his hearing, even in challenging listening environments.

“There is a lot more clarity with my new hearing aids,” he reports. “I’m able to hear normally, which is fantastic.”

An “Invisible” Condition

Lou’s story of hearing loss is universal as to how it affected his ability to communicate, on the job and in his personal life. And the fact that Lou’s need for hearing aids first began in his 40s, instead of during his retirement years, isn’t unusual anymore.Deborah Faucette & Lou Hoffman fitted with hearing aids at Sound Advice Hearing Solutions.

“It used to be people would think that hearing loss happened as aging occurred, but now we’re seeing younger generations starting to have some difficulty with their hearing,” notes Amanda Kluzynski, AuD, at Sound Advice Hearing Solutions.

“We have more people coming in to see us who are in their forties. In the past, the median age of clients tended to be the late sixties or early seventies.”

In the United States, hearing loss affects nearly 20 percent of the population, reports the Hearing Loss Association of America. That amounts to nearly 48 million people. Although one in three has a hearing loss at age 65, issues with poor hearing also affect people who aren’t in retirement. Sixty percent of those with diminished hearing are still in the work force or school, notes the association.

Yet hearing loss is often an “invisible” condition, explains Dr. Kluzynski.

“Hearing loss is one of those things you can’t see from the outside,” she explains. “A lot of times, people don’t even realize that someone has a hearing loss. They may attribute the effects of the hearing loss, such as not answering or giving a nonsensical response to a question, to the person being aloof or confused.”

That lack of awareness also extends to the person with the hearing loss. Unlike how blurry vision makes it easy to recognize the need for glasses, hearing loss doesn’t occur in a similar manner. It often happens gradually, and sounds that are missed aren’t noticed.

People may be standing behind you and talking, for instance, but you aren’t aware of the fact that you aren’t hearing them. Unless they move into your line of sight, it’s more like they were never there.

“For most people, hearing loss is gradual, and it’s hard to detect a change that is so incrementally small over time. The brain just acclimates as the loss progresses,” educates Dr. Kluzynski. “When our clients try on devices, their brains are able to assess information and sounds that their ears can no longer access on their own. It’s a light bulb moment for a lot of people when they hear for themselves what they’ve been missing.”

Time to Get Tested

Deborah Faucette, a pharmacist who works in pharmacy management and lives in St. Petersburg, realized she wasn’t hearing well when she was about 40.

Hearing loss is hereditary on both sides of her family. Both parents wore hearing aids, along with her maternal grandfather. Deborah’s moment of insight – that she might need hearing aids – occurred when she was speaking at a conference and misunderstood a question.

Deborah Faucette & Lou Hoffman fitted with hearing aids at Sound Advice Hearing Solutions.

Deborah’s hearing aids help her on the job when she’s listening to teleconferences.

“I used to do a lot of public speaking, and I realized that I answered a question that wasn’t asked,” she describes. “What happened is that after giving an answer, I would always say, Did I answer your question? This time, the person asking the question said, No – that was a great answer, but just not to the question I asked.

“I said, I think it’s time I get tested for hearing aids. Everybody kind of chuckled, but I was serious.”

Deborah sought a hearing evaluation and was fitted with hearing aids. Ten years ago, after moving to Florida, she discovered Sound Advice Hearing Solutions, and has relied on the care of its skilled hearing care professionals ever since.

“I just happened to be driving by the plaza where they are located and saw Sound Advice. I went in and was immediately taken care of. The helpfulness of the staff there impressed me,” she reveals. “I’ve trusted and respected them, and everything they have recommended has worked out quite well.”

Like Lou, Deborah has witnessed the tremendous advancements in hearing aid technology.

She appreciates how hearing care specialists at Sound Advice Hearing Solutions test her hearing and perform a thorough evaluation before recommending a specific technology.

Both locations of Sound Advice Hearing Solutions feature a warm, inviting and serene setting to put clients at ease. They include spacious, spa-like sound suites for hearing tests instead of old-fashioned hearing test booths. Once the hearing test is performed, the hearing specialist completes an in-depth consultation about current hearing difficulties and how they affect the client’s lifestyle.

While being fitted for new hearing aids recently, Deborah noted that her work now involves conference calls through online services like Skype™. The calls had a tendency to be challenging, even when she was wearing hearing aids.

“In a Skype type of call, it can be more difficult to hear when people speak very quietly,” she explains.

Her latest evaluation at Sound Advice Hearing Solutions revealed that Deborah would benefit from a hearing aid with Bluetooth technology. It would allow her to stream voices directly from her phone or a speaker into her hearing aids for maximum clarity.

“Deborah had transitioned from working with people face to face to doing a lot more web sessions where she’s listening through a telecom on her desk and looking at people on a TV,” notes Dr. Kluzynski. “When you’re listening to people through something like a speaker phone, the sound quality is not optimal, especially for people with a hearing loss. But we compensate for that with the right technology.”

Deborah’s hearing aids allow her to function well on the job. They have enhanced her personal life, too, such as when she’s talking with her young niece by phone.

“I’d be missing a lot without my hearing aids. My niece is ten and her voice is in the high range, which I have a little difficulty with,” shares Deborah. “But with my hearing aids, I can talk with her for hours and have an enjoyable conversation.”

Better Life Quality

Unlike Lou and Deborah, who sought help with their hearing losses while still in their 40s, many people with hearing issues ignore their condition for years. On average, people put off seeking hearing evaluations for seven to ten years after the onset of hearing loss.

There are many reasons why opting for early intervention is a wiser choice.Deborah Faucette & Lou Hoffman fitted with hearing aids at Sound Advice Hearing Solutions.

For one, hearing loss isn’t just about losing the ability to hear sounds and conversations. It can affect the brain’s processing when listening, which leads to frustration and the need to constantly ask, What? People may begin to withdraw socially when they no longer hear well, which can cascade into isolation, anxiety and even depression.

“Hearing loss is something anybody should be proactive about,” recommends Dr. Kluzynski. “The reason is that when one of our senses isn’t working to its full potential, the brain isn’t getting the information it should be getting. The section of the brain associated with hearing will decline in its ability to function. The longer that continues, the harder it is for the brain and hearing technology, such as hearing aids, to work together and get everything back to how it used to be.”

“I recently got my second pair of hearing aids from Sound Advice since I first went to them four years ago, and they’re even better than the first pair,” Lou reports. “I use Bluetooth to hear the voices of callers on my phone directly in the hearing aids. I also program them to work with my television.”

For Deborah, hearing aids brought an unexpected benefit. They make her more relaxed. She used to have furrowed brows and look overly serious during conversations, almost like she was disagreeing. In reality, her strained expression was the result of attempting to hear.

“Before I got hearing aids, I always had this look on my face when I was concentrating on trying to read people’s lips,” she explains. “The perception was that I wasn’t smiling and wasn’t happy, but that was far from the truth.”

She enjoys traveling and serves on an advisory board for the University of Connecticut, where she graduated from college. Hearing aids help her when listening to presentations in a crowded room and talking to students.

She encourages anyone with a hearing loss to seek an evaluation and recommends Sound Advice Hearing Solutions.

“I will tell you that the way hearing aids are made today, you can hardly see them, and most people don’t even know I’m wearing them,” Deborah observes. “The technology has become so advanced that I’ve always encouraged people to get tested, first of all, and give hearing aids a try. You don’t want to miss out on anything – life is too short.”

Lou is equally enthusiastic about recommending hearing aids from Sound Advice Hearing Solutions. He returns every six months for a hearing exam and to make sure his hearing aids are working properly.

“The first time I went to Sound Advice Hearing Solutions, they made me feel special. They didn’t rush and took the time needed to talk with me,” he notes.

“If anyone asks me about the hearing care specialists there, I say they’re very honest and ethical. They provide excellent care to people. Anyone who goes there for hearing aids is going to get excellent customer service and quality care.”

FHCN article by Susan Hemmingway. Photos by Jordan Pysz & Fred Bellet. Stock photo and graphics from

The Right Diagnosis for Pain Relief

Back and leg pain may not be what they seem.

The excruciating pain started in the middle of Roy Miller’s buttock and ran down his right leg. He makes his living as a truck driver and it was hard to ignore during his regular 500-mile runs.

Roy Miller is treated for piriformis syndrome by Arpit Patel, DO, at Florida Pain Medicine.

Now free of pain, Roy is riding his motorcycle again.

“It was almost like having fire running down my leg,” he describes. “It was just very, very uncomfortable. I’m in a big truck with bucket seats but it was difficult to get comfortable.

“I love riding motorcycles and didn’t even want to do that. I’ve got a Honda Gold Wing, which is probably one of the most comfortable motorcycles you can sit on, but I didn’t want to ride it.”

At first, Roy believed a medical challenge he faced several years earlier could have returned. He had experienced a rare nerve condition, cauda equina syndrome, in his lower back that caused numbness from his waist down. He was able to recover after having emergency surgery.

“I felt like that might be what was happening again and we went straight to my doctor, who ordered an MRI,” he shares.

The MRI didn’t indicate a recurrence of cauda equina syndrome and the cause of Roy’s extreme discomfort was still a mystery. His doctor referred him to Florida Pain Medicine, where Roy saw Arpit Patel, DO, a highly trained specialist in interventional pain medicine.

Pinpointing the Source

“When I first met Roy, he had a shooting pain that was going down his leg,” explains Dr. Patel. “Having this type of pain affected his job as a truck driver and he didn’t want to miss work.”

Dr. Patel noted that Roy’s symptoms had elements of sciatica, a condition that affects the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back into the legs. Problems such as a herniated spinal disc can affect the nerve and lead to the type of severe discomfort that Roy was experiencing.

However, Dr. Patel suspected something else was occurring. It wouldn’t show up on an MRI.

Like all doctors at Florida Pain Medicine, Dr. Patel is fellowship trained in the subspecialty of pain medicine. He completed advanced training at the University of South Florida through its prestigious fellowship program in pain management.

Doctors at Florida Pain Medicine also are specialists in physical medicine in addition to interventional pain management. The practice motto is Restore Function, Relive Life. It reflects the physicians’ goal of not only relieving pain but also returning individuals to fully functioning lives. They want patients to go back to doing what they love, whether that’s dancing, golfing or playing with their children, and to regain the ability to complete daily living tasks.

Dr. Patel’s assessment of what was causing Roy’s pain included taking a thorough medical history and completing a physical examination. He noted Roy’s previous back surgery for cauda equina syndrome, along with symptoms that mimicked sciatica pain. Both factors could have been misleading in making a diagnosis, but
Dr. Patel’s high level of skill in physical medicine and pain management prompted him to look elsewhere.

“On average, most people might think the pain was caused by Roy’s prior surgery or there was some radicular component, which is a type of pain that affects a spinal nerve root,” explains
Dr. Patel. “A lot of time with sciatica, it’s coming from the back where the individual has something like a slipped disc. Roy was a little different.”

Based on his examination, Dr. Patel suspected that Roy’s back pain wasn’t originating from a spinal disc. Spasms or irritation might be occurring in his piriformis muscle, a small muscle located in the buttocks that begins in the lower spine and connects to the upper thighbone.

With Roy on the examining table, Dr. Patel performed a manual test on Roy’s hip to verify his hunch. The maneuver flexed the hip and moved the leg away from the body’s midline.

“This exact motion is very specific for this type of muscle. It’s different from most other testing done for sciatica,” educates Dr. Patel. “The test came back positive in that Roy nearly jumped off the table. We had pinpointed the source of his pain. Without a physical exam, this never would have been picked up.”

Dr. Patel diagnosed Roy with piriformis syndrome, a condition that can cause a dull ache in the buttocks and increased pain after prolonged sitting. The sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis muscle, which is why shooting pain may radiate down the leg or into the lower back.

Instantaneous Relief

The approach of interventional pain management at Florida Pain Medicine goes beyond relying on one or two methods of treatment. It is multidisciplinary with multiple modalities that can be used in a broad spectrum or in combination. Treatments include injections or other pain-relieving procedures, multiple medications that don’t have to be habit forming or narcotics-based, physical therapy, TENS units, braces and much more.

Once he had confirmed Roy’s diagnosis of piriformis syndrome, Dr. Patel ordered an injection to stop the pain. The shot contained an anesthetic and small amount of steroid medication. It needed to be precisely delivered under
fluoroscopy, a moving  x-ray.

“This syndrome differs in treatment because you have to get to that exact piriformis muscle in the buttocks area,” explains Dr. Patel.

To Roy’s astonishment, the results of the injection were instantaneous. His suffering ended in mere seconds.

“I was laying on the table and Dr. Patel told me exactly where the injection would go,” recalls Roy. “He said to let him know when he was at that point. I said How am I going to know that? and he told me You’ll know.”

Dr. Patel’s prediction was correct. Roy was profoundly aware of the moment his pain stopped.

“I tell all my buddies about this – how I literally wasn’t off the table and I was feeling complete relief,” he relates.

Roy returned to work the next day and was thrilled that he was free of pain. Dr. Patel prescribed physical therapy as an adjunct therapy that would help Roy stretch the piriformis muscle.

“Our first and foremost goal was for Roy to be able to work and he was able to do that the day after his treatment,” notes Dr. Patel. “There are ways of living pain free that can be as simple as an injection instead of being prescribed opioids or other types of medication.”

Beyond work, Roy is riding his favorite motorcycle again. He’s thrilled that a simple treatment – and expert diagnosis – could make such a difference.

“Dr. Patel and Florida Pain Medicine are just nothing short of great,” says Roy. “Dr. Patel is very professional and has a tremendous bedside manner. He doesn’t just do something and rush out the door. If you have questions, he takes the time to answer them. He knew exactly what I had and exactly what to do.”

FHCN article by Susan Hemmingway. Photo by Fred Bellet. mkb

Laser Makes Toenail Fungus Disappear

Linda Jenkins, 66, is enjoying retirement after working in civilian jobs with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. She and her husband stay on the go, making sure they log 10,000 daily steps on their Fitbit® counters and visiting places like
St. Armand’s Circle and the beach.

Linda Jenkins treated with PinPointe™ FootLaser™ for onychomycosis (toenail fungus) by podiatric surgeon Dawn Chiu, DPM, at Sarasota Foot and Ankle Center.

Linda feels good about wearing flip-flops, again.

She likes to paint her toenails dark, funky colors for a bit of fun. Typically, she gives herself pedicures, but one day changed her routine and visited a nail shop. The indulgence included a sudsy footbath and letting the nail tech do the trimming, filing and polishing.

Later, she discovered unusual discolorations on her toes after the polish was removed.

“My big toe and the ones next to it had these little, white spots. I couldn’t figure it out because I’d never seen them before,” she elaborates. “My husband looked at my toes one day and said, That’s toenail fungus because he’d had it years ago.”

Linda decided she might have picked up a fungus infection at the nail shop.

Her husband researched what to do next. He discovered Dawn Chiu, DPM, at Sarasota Foot and Ankle Center, a board-qualified podiatric surgeon who offers the PinPointe™ FootLaser™ to treat toenail fungus, and urged Linda to make an appointment.

Clear, Healthy Nails

In examining Linda’s toes, Dr. Chiu confirmed she had onychomycosis, a common disorder caused by microscopic fungi. The condition typically begins when fungi enter through a tiny break in the nail.Linda Jenkins treated with PinPointe™ FootLaser™ for onychomycosis (toenail fungus) by podiatric surgeon Dawn Chiu, DPM, at Sarasota Foot and Ankle Center.

The discoloration in Linda’s toes was an early symptom. Nail fungus won’t go away without treatment, and as it progresses, nails become thick, brittle and discolored. The nail surface may grow soft and powdery, crumble and break off.

The unsightly condition can be more than a cosmetic nuisance. Fungus can cause a deformity in the nail that makes it difficult to wear shoes.

The PinPointe FootLaser is
Dr. Chiu’s weapon of choice for eliminating persistent nail fungus. It works by killing the underlying fungus. No blood tests are required, and there are no side effects.

“We first grind down the nail, then pass the light over it repeatedly in crisscross patterns so we know the laser gets good coverage,” educates Dr. Chiu. “The patient will feel a warm sensation, but no pain.”

Although the treatment kills the fungus, the nail portion with fungus damage must grow out as the clear nail grows in.

Patients return to Dr. Chiu’s office about every three months to evaluate their progress and are retreated as necessary. To accelerate healing, they use an antifungal nail solution at home between visits.

Linda obtained excellent results with a single treatment.

“It didn’t hurt at all, and now my toes are free and clear. I’m so thankful that my husband found Dr. Chiu,” reports Linda. “Dr. Chiu is very personable and knows what she’s doing. I think she is the best doctor that I could have gone to for toenail fungus. I’ll go back to her in a flash if I ever need treatment for anything with my feet.”

FHCN article by Susan Hemmingway. Photo by Jordan Pysz. Before and after images courtesy of Sarasota Foot and Ankle Center. mkb

A Caring Community for Seniors with Dementia

Fran Bennett’s husband, Gene, became one of the first residents of Symphony at St. Augustine when he moved into the new memory care community in March. The community is designed exclusively for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss and other forms of dementia.

Fran Bennett and Deb Leonard talk about their husbands, who are among the first residents of Symphony at St. Augustine, a new memory care community for seniors with dementia.

Gene likes all of his new activities, like being the Bingo caller, says his wife Fran.

“I was standing by and waiting for Symphony at St. Augustine to open their doors. We were at another facility, and it got to the point where they couldn’t care for him anymore,” shares Fran. “Symphony welcomed him with open arms, and they’re just amazing in what they do for my husband.”

Every detail of Symphony at St. Augustine is purposely created to make life feel secure and enjoyable for residents with dementia. The secure grounds include landscaped courtyards and common areas where activity centers are part of a holistic approach to memory care.

Instead of living in the wing of a facility, each resident has his or her own private studio apartment within a community that meets their unique needs. Residents can walk freely throughout the common areas and grounds.

“The entire community is secured for safety. Residents can be independent while still being overseen by trained staff twenty-four hours a day,” says Tara Tosh, executive director of Symphony at St. Augustine.

For Gene, the community’s serene environment and the way residents are kept engaged has made a tremendous difference, says Fran. The fact that he has a secure space to move around in – beyond his own apartment or a community great room – has made him happier, she reports.

“For the first time in many years, I can relax and not think about what he’s doing or if he’s okay because I know he is,” she states.

Keeping Busy

Deb Leonard chose Symphony at St. Augustine for her husband, Peter, for its overall environment and the fact that it is exclusively for seniors with memory loss. It is the only senior residential community devoted solely to memory care in St. Johns County.

Fran Bennett and Deb Leonard talk about their husbands, who are among the first residents of Symphony at St. Augustine, a new memory care community for seniors with dementia.

Peter is having more good days in his new community.

Peter, who has dementia, is one of its first residents.

“I’m really happy with the way the community feels. They have a nice screened area outside and the courtyard area where residents can walk around and go in and out of doors in an area that is completely secure,” she notes.

Another factor that Deb likes about Symphony at St. Augustine is the quality of food served to residents. Nearly everything is prepared on site with fresh produce and other fresh ingredients by the community’s executive chef, instead of relying on frozen meals shipped from a supplier.

Deb appreciates that Symphony at St. Augustine staff members are especially caring.

“The first time I met the chef, he said that he feels like the residents are like his own parents, and he treats them as if they were a part of his family,” she recalls.

A typical week at Symphony at St. Augustine involves dozens of options that keep residents engaged, from going out for ice cream to playing games that encourage physical activity.

“The activities director is amazing,” Fran comments. “She makes sure everyone exercises in the morning, and they play different games. I can’t say enough good things about it.”

Residents have visited the Humane Society, taking dog biscuits they baked in the Symphony kitchen under the supervision of Chef Louis, the community’s executive chef.

Another activity is music therapy; students from a nearby school play piano and guitar in the community several times a week.

“Music is very good for people with dementia,” explains Tara. “It is one of the last aspects they forget. Somebody could play an old, familiar song, and they will automatically remember that, even when they may not remember the name of someone they have always known.”

The purpose of keeping residents active is to bring joy into their daily living, notes Tara.

“It’s important for people with dementia to be stimulated,” stresses Tara. “Happiness and joy don’t have age limits. Even with a disease like Alzheimer’s, we can have good days and smiles.”

In the Moment

Symphony at St. Augustine’s holistic approach to memory care is called In the Moment and designed to help residents feel engaged and valued throughout the day.

In the Moment is based on six principles: physical engagement, spiritual support, artistic expression, community connections, continued education, and lifestyle and leisure. The principles are the framework for meeting residents in the moment they are experiencing for kind and compassionate engagement to guide them through their days.

The community features life stations, which are areas where residents can participate in purposeful activities, from taking care of dolls to working in a small, raised garden. Other life stations include a travel station with items from across the world, and a “gentleman’s” station that features sports memorabilia and clothing, like a top hat and dress coat.

Part of training for all staff members, from kitchen workers to the executive team, is learning 24 personal details about every resident. The information is used to be able to relate to the residents in a personalized way that can be soothing.Fran Bennett and Deb Leonard talk about their husbands, who are among the first residents of Symphony at St. Augustine, a new memory care community for seniors with dementia.

“If my husband gets upset, everybody there knows Gene likes basketball, golf and cars. They can start to talk to him about those things, and it defuses him. It’s amazing,” enthuses Fran.

“They are constantly doing things with him and having conversations with him,” she continues. “One of his favorite activities is the corn hole game that you play with beanbags. They have a contest with the caregivers to see who can get the most scores. He really loves it.”

Peace of Mind

Symphony at St. Augustine has given both Fran and Deb tremendous peace of mind.

Deb cared for her husband, who experienced
early-onset dementia in his 60s, for nearly ten years at home. Recently, it became evident that Peter needed more care than she could provide alone.

“Having him at Symphony has taken the worry away, although I’m not completely adjusted. We lived together for forty-five years,” reveals Deb. “But I can sleep through the night and not worry that he’s woken up and gotten into trouble.Fran Bennett and Deb Leonard talk about their husbands, who are among the first residents of Symphony at St. Augustine, a new memory care community for seniors with dementia.

“My husband is having some really good days at Symphony. I have seen him laughing with people and communicating. That’s a good feeling.”

Fran says that knowing Gene has responded so positively to the care at Symphony at St. Augustine helps her feel better, too. The active engagement and peaceful surroundings have been a winning combination for Gene.

“Where he was before, it would be hard for me to leave when I visited. He wanted me to take him with me,” reflects Fran. “He doesn’t ask me to do that anymore. It does my heart good to know that he’s happy.”

FHCN article by Susan Hemmingway. Photos by Jordan Pysz. Graphics from mkb

Avoid Back Surgery!

Denise Moxon, 65, is a retired registered nurse who stays fit through activities she loves: a challenging horse-riding discipline called dressage, yoga and weight training.

Denise Moxon treated for herniated discs with nonsurgical spinal decompression therapy at St. Augustine Spine Center.

Denise is getting back in the saddle now that her back pain is gone.

Looking after her barn and horses requires physically demanding chores, but that never fazed her. That is until the day her back went out when she was shoveling dirt.

The intense pain started in her lower back and radiated into her right thigh. At first, Denise figured rest would make it go away. She stopped exercising and riding her horses.

When the pain remained, Denise looked for remedies with two priorities in mind: She wanted to avoid surgery and narcotic pain medications. Over four months, she tried physical therapy, massage, steroid injections and acupuncture.

“I did all of these things just trying to get out of pain and thinking time would take care of it,” she recalls. “But it kept getting worse and worse until I couldn’t even walk my dog for a short distance. Physical therapy did not help, and massage did not help. The acupuncture alleviated the pain, but wasn’t a cure. I’d be pain free but then would need acupuncture again.

“By the sixth month, I couldn’t tolerate it any longer and was beginning to believe that surgery was the only thing that could help me,” she continues.

Denise consulted a neurosurgeon, who ordered an MRI. The imaging study revealed two herniated discs in her lower spine. She agreed with her physician they needed surgical repair.

Due to the busy surgeon’s schedule, the operation couldn’t be performed for three months. Denise was resolved to suffering until then.

Shortly after scheduling the surgery, however, she learned about Tyler Albrecht, DC, at St. Augustine Spine Center. She was intrigued by a therapy that Dr. Albrecht uses to treat herniated and bulging discs called nonsurgical spinal decompression.

Wanting to learn more, Denise made an appointment to consult with
Dr. Albrecht.

Healing Herniated Discs

“When Denise came to us, she was in really bad shape,” states Dr. Albrecht. “She could only walk or stand two minutes before the pain would become severe. She couldn’t do any bending or lifting, and the pain was interrupting her sleep.”

Denise’s herniated discs were causing spinal stenosis, a condition that causes narrowing of the space for the spinal cord. This narrowing puts pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves, causing pain.

Through his examination of Denise, Dr. Albrecht determined she was a candidate for nonsurgical spinal decompression. The therapy works to restore herniated or bulging discs to a healthier state and thus relieve pain.

“What I’ve found is that spinal decompression is usually the best treatment for a herniated disc because it helps to reverse the pressure on the disc and allows the disc to heal rather than just trying to cover up the pain with injections or medication,” notes Dr. Albrecht.

“Our decompression table does this by gently pulling the two vertebrae on either side of the affected disc, producing a vacuum effect. This allows bulging material and nutrients to be drawn back into the disc over time, allowing it to heal naturally. Advanced technology and computerized load sensors combine to create a gentle, pain-free treatment that avoids the muscle guarding reflex that is commonly triggered with rudimentary traction devices.”

Denise liked how Dr. Albrecht explained the process clearly and comprehensively.

“Dr. Albrecht is very articulate and knowledgeable. He’s informative and factual. The result was that I could make the decision on my own about whether to pursue treatment. He didn’t try to make the decision for me, which I appreciate in a doctor,” she describes.

She began a seven-week treatment regimen with three sessions of spinal decompression each week. In addition, she was treated with a combination of other modalities that are part of the disc rehabilitation program at St. Augustine Spine Center. They included manual therapy, chiropractic care, ice, electrical stimulation and laser therapy to help speed the healing process.

A Full Recovery

The therapy sessions were pleasant experiences for Denise.

Denise Moxon treated for herniated discs with nonsurgical spinal decompression therapy at St. Augustine Spine Center.

Denise trains her horse in

“The atmosphere in Dr. Albrecht’s office is lovely and peaceful,” she describes. “And the decompression treatments were very comfortable and easy to do. They’re pain free. You can watch videos while you’re lying on the decompression table, which I did a lot, and it’s restful.”

Halfway through her treatment program, Denise discovered how much spinal decompression was helping. She went to a boat show with her husband and was stunned to realize that walking didn’t hurt anymore.

“We were walking around and after about forty-five minutes, I stopped and said, Art, I have no pain,” remembers Denise. “Before, I would go places, even though it hurt to walk, because I’m an active person. I would walk, hurt, sit; walk, hurt, sit.

“At the boat show, it suddenly dawned on me that I had been walking for forty-five minutes and hadn’t needed to sit down because I wasn’t hurting.”

In her first visit with Dr. Albrecht, Denise’s average pain level was six on a scale of one to ten. By the end of treatment, it had dropped to zero.

Dr. Albrecht uses another feedback measure, the Low Back Pain and Disability Index, to gauge results. The questionnaire focuses on how much back pain interferes with daily activities.

“When we started out, Denise was at sixty-six percent on how much the pain was disabling her,” states Dr. Albrecht. “When we finished, she was down to zero percent – she experienced a full recovery.”

Denise is slowly working her way back into horse-riding shape. And before she resumes yoga and weight training, she is following a regimen of stretching and strengthening her core.

“I’m not trotting or cantering on my horse at this time, but slowly we’ll get there,” she says. “I was in pretty darn good shape for my age before that [injury] occurred, and I’m going to make sure I am again before I resume all my activities.”

After she felt sure that spinal decompression had given her long-lasting relief, she canceled her surgery date. Ultimately, she succeeded in finding a treatment that took away her severe back pain without surgery or drugs.

“It was a long road because I tried so many things,” she relates. “I’m really pleased with my treatment by
Dr. Albrecht. It’s pretty impressive.”

FHCN article by Susan Hemmingway. Photos by Jordan Pysz. mkb

Better Hearing Starts With the Best Care

The right audiologist can make a life-changing difference.

Taft Croft, who is 46, was in elementary school when he got his first pair of hearing aids. At age six, he caught scarlet fever and it damaged his hearing.

Taft Croft and Michael Bell fitted with hearing aids at First Coast Hearing Clinic.

Being able to stream cell phone calls directly into his hearing aids helps Taft hear callers clearly.

The hearing devices didn’t help him, mainly because they made him the target of teasing. When he was in elementary school, in the late 1970s and early 80s, hearing aids were bulky and easy to spot. To avoid ribbing by classmates, Taft refused to wear them.

“I went all through elementary, middle school and high school with a hearing problem, and it did cause problems,” he relates. “To compensate, I would sit in the front of the class and do a lot of lip reading. But when the teacher turned around to face the blackboard or whatever, I’d miss a lot.”

It wasn’t until six years ago – at age 40 – that Taft decided to give hearing aids another chance.

“I ran a medical supply company for about twenty years, and halfway through, I started having a lot of problems with my hearing. I was moving my way up the ladder and participated in conversations and meetings that were very important but was missing a lot of information,” he elaborates.

“It got to the point where it was a struggle, and not only that, my wife and I had two young kids in the house, and I was just missing so much at home, too.”

The teasing from elementary school had left a long imprint. It came into play when Taft selected his hearing aids at age 40. He opted for tiny hearing aids that fit deep inside the ear canal and couldn’t be seen.

They improved his hearing, but after five years, Taft figured it was time for a new set. He had read about hearing aids with Bluetooth® capability – a technology that streams audio directly from devices like cell phones into the hearing aid – and wanted to try it.

Taft’s doctor recommended First Coast Hearing Clinic, which has offices in St. Augustine and Palm Coast.

Selecting Correct Technology

Taft was about to discover the difference that the right provider can make for obtaining the best results from hearing aids.

Taft Croft and Michael Bell fitted with hearing aids at First Coast Hearing Clinic.

Michael’s new hearing aids make the words of family and friends easy to understand.

First Coast Hearing Clinic is a founding partner of Audigy Group, LLC, the largest member-owned organization in the hearing care industry. The clinic follows best practices based on Audigy core values. It ensures patients are fitted with hearing devices that meet their lifestyles, needs and budgets.

Taft met with Ashley Mitchell, AuD, a certified audiologist at First Coast Hearing Clinic.

In her evaluation of Taft’s hearing, Dr. Mitchell completed a detailed assessment of where he had trouble with communication and asked questions about his overall lifestyle. The information helped her recommend the technology that would fit his goals and needs.

“The best part of my job is really getting to know people and learning about their history,” notes Dr. Mitchell. “I do more listening than talking.”

Taft now runs his own pool maintenance business, and with a busy roster of customers, he’s frequently on the phone. He is active with family and friends, and a favorite hobby is watching movie classics like Ghostbusters from the 1980s.

Dr. Mitchell suggested an advanced hearing aid model equipped with Bluetooth and other high-technology features. It also had the power to correct Taft’s moderately severe hearing loss.

The hearing aid’s style is discreet, with a small housing that fits behind the ear. For many people, the devices won’t be seen because hair will cover them. That wasn’t the case for Taft; he likes his hair cut high and tight, and he worried that someone might notice he was wearing hearing aids.

“My biggest thing was, OK, but you can see them. Dr. Mitchell recommended that I could grow my hair out a little to cover them,” he shares.

He tried the devices for two weeks, but the fact that they might be seen still bothered him. Taft asked to switch back to a new pair that fits completely in the ear, the type he had been accustomed to. They didn’t have the advanced features of the hearing aids recommended by Dr. Mitchell, but Taft liked that they were invisible.

His request wasn’t an issue at First Coast Hearing Clinic, where people are given a 75-day trial period to test hearing aids. The trial period exceeds the standard 30-day trial period the State of Florida requires for hearing aid purchases.

During the 75-day trial, patients are seen every two weeks, or more often when necessary, to give audiologists feedback about how their new devices are working. Digital programming can be fine-tuned to overcome any challenges that patients may experience.

After being fitted with the invisible hearing aids, Taft wore them for a month. He found he missed the advanced features in the first set of devices recommended by Dr. Mitchell.

“I told myself that whether I grew my hair out or not, the hearing aids that Dr. Mitchell recommended for me were better because my experience wearing them was amazing,” emphasizes Taft. “With their Bluetooth capability, I could hear people on my phone directly in my hearing aids. I could stream sound from the TV and for my music.

“I realized that even with my old hearing aids, I had been missing a lot,” he continues. “It was life-changing when I first got hearing aids six years ago. But the technology that Dr. Mitchell presented to me was just as life-changing. I never realized that I could actually sit down and watch a movie and hear every word.”

Dr. Mitchell happily accommodated Taft’s request to change hearing aids a second time. Like all audiologists at First Coast Hearing Clinic, her goal is to fit individuals with devices that work for them, according to how the technology meets their unique needs.

“We really want to figure out what is most important to people and work on that to make sure their hearing is at its best,” notes Dr. Mitchell. “If the new hearing aids aren’t working for them, we’re going to try something else and start the trial period again. We want this to be a good experience.”

Pairing with Audiologists

Michael Bell, 62, was first notified of a hearing loss when he wanted to join the military in his mid 20s. His physical included a hearing test, which revealed a high-frequency hearing deficit that Michael hadn’t really noticed.

Taft Croft and Michael Bell fitted with hearing aids at First Coast Hearing Clinic.

Taft enjoys watching old movies.

“The doctor told me, You’re not able to hear real high pitches in your right ear,” recalls Michael.

The loss kept Michael from passing the physical, and he went on to jobs in civilian life that included working in a noisy printing center. Eventually, his hearing grew worse.

“I noticed I had to turn up the television a little bit and that I had to keep asking people, What? Say what? Huh?” he explains.

“I knew I needed hearing aids when I was in my fifties. I worked security, and I would make out some of what people said but then other times think they said one thing and it was something else.”

The communication challenge was frustrating for Michael, and he sensed it was equally frustrating for his family members. They didn’t complain, but he knew they were growing tired of responding to his requests to repeat themselves.

Finally, his sister Hazel came to the rescue.

“I know she was tired of me saying, Huh? So she said, We’re going to look at some hearing places,” shares Michael.

In her research, his sister was most impressed by First Coast Hearing Clinic. She liked the fact that the clinic doesn’t employ hearing aid specialists to see patients and instead uses certified audiologists.

Pairing patients with audiologists is a key component of First Coast Hearing Clinic’s commitment to excellence in hearing care.

Although some hearing clinics utilize hearing aid specialists in fitting patients, hearing aid specialists lack the advanced education and training of audiologists. The State of Florida requires hearing aid specialists to have only a high school diploma, complete a distance-learning course and finish six months of training.

In contrast, audiologists have graduated from a two-year Master’s program or four-year doctoral program. They have extensive knowledge of the science of hearing and advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss.

Michael made an appointment at First Coast Hearing Clinic and met with Femi Coo, AuD.

Importance of Rehabilitation

“Michael came in for hearing aids because he was having issues communicating with people,” notes Dr. Coo. “It wasn’t that he wasn’t hearing at all – he was hearing but having issues with clarity and having to ask people to repeat themselves. That scenario is very common.

“We went through the first appointment pinpointing what he wanted to hear the most. Social interaction topped the list – he wanted to be able to hear clearly when he was communicating with friends and family.”

Michael was fitted with hearing aids and then the real work began. The ability to hear better doesn’t come from simply purchasing hearing aids. It requires a period of rehabilitation for the brain to adjust to renewed sounds.

At First Coast Hearing Clinic, patients work with their audiologists through a rehabilitation protocol during their 75-day trial period. They have incremental follow-up appointments to provide feedback about how the devices are working.

“A lot of people think hearing aids are like glasses or some other device you can purchase and everything is fine, but that’s not the case at all,” emphasizes Dr. Coo. “You are retraining your brain to hear sounds you haven’t heard in a long time. So it does take some work, but for patients willing to put in the work, it’s a very happy process. They end up being happy with all the things they can hear again.”

Michael was an ideal patient: He kept notes about where and when he was experiencing any difficulties and brought them to his follow-up appointments. Between his office visits, he called to talk with Dr. Coo, if needed. He wasn’t charged separately for the visits and calls; follow-up is part of the 75-day trial period.

“My sister made sure I took notes about how the hearing aids were working so I could tell the doctor about any issues. I wrote notes about how my voice sounded when wearing the hearing aids and how they were working in my home environment and just overall,” explains Michael.

“We would go over each point and fix every problem,” says Dr. Coo about assisting Michael. “I always tell my patients that there’s a solution to everything, but we need to know what the problem is in order to get to solutions.

“Some patients think they are disturbing the audiologist and don’t want to be a nuisance. But we encourage our patients to come in as often as possible to get it right. We want to make sure they are hearing what they want to and their hearing aids are working well for them.”

Taft Croft and Michael Bell fitted with hearing aids at First Coast Hearing Clinic.

Michael enjoys playing bass guitar.

The end result for Michael was significant. He is enjoying conversations again, as well as simple pleasures like hearing birds and listening to music.

“There were some things that I didn’t know I was missing, like stepping outside in the morning and hearing the birds as loud as they are,” observes Michael. “And being able to hear what people say without having to ask, Huh? It’s given me a little more confidence in talking with people. I don’t feel like I have to shy away in conversations because I’m not going to understand them.”

Exceptional Results

Taft rates his experience at First Coast Hearing Clinic as exceptional.screen-shot-2017-06-19-at-1-32-55-pm

“If I were rating First Coast Hearing Clinic on a scale of one to five stars, I would give them a six,” he enthuses. “When you walk in, you feel welcome. It starts with the woman at the front desk who is friendly and greets you.”

He appreciates Dr. Mitchell’s skill and knowledge.

“Dr. Mitchell is just great. She’s very patient and understood that this is almost a matter of life and death for me because if I can’t hear, I’m not living,” he describes. “Everything I asked for, Dr. Mitchell and everyone at the clinic just far surpassed it.

“I think the greatest part is when someone asks you something, and you’re able to answer promptly instead of going, I’m sorry, huh? I did that my whole life, and I know it got on people’s nerves,” emphasizes Taft.

Michael is equally pleased that he chose First Coast Hearing Clinic. Working with
Dr. Coo was excellent from the start, he reports.

“Dr. Coo is very good, and by his nature, very friendly. He really took the time to work with me,” he notes. “I’d say that getting hearing aids and going to First Coast Hearing Clinic has been life-changing.”

FHCN article by Susan Hemmingway. Photos by Jordan Pysz. Photo from nj.

Repairing Painful Knees

Stem cell therapy can relieve pain, improve function

The pain in Bill Lynes’ knees started early. A high school and college athlete who played football, basketball and baseball, Bill had his first knee operation as a teen.

Bill Lynes treated for two bad knees through stem cell therapy at Regenerative Orthopedic Institute.

Bill is able to bend down – and get back up –
with ease after stem cell therapy in both knees.

“In my junior year of high school, I had an ACL repair and then a meniscus repair in my knee,” he describes. “In all, I’ve had about five surgeries on my left knee and one on my right knee.”

Bill remained active throughout adulthood through activities like golf. By his 60s, his knees were starting to give out, affecting all aspects of his life.

“For the longest time, I couldn’t enjoy golf because I couldn’t turn,” he shares.

As a manager at a car auction company, his job requires a lot of walking, which became uncomfortable. He likes to work around the house, taking care of his pool and yard, but tasks were harder to complete. Bending down was fairly easy; getting back up was painful and took forever.

His poorly functioning knees started to interfere with an important family ritual. On the anniversaries of his parents’ deaths, Bill and his wife get away to a resort instead of staying home. The highlight for Bill is taking a long walk on the beach and remembering his parents.

“During our trip, my wife looked at me and finally said, You know, I can tell you’re really hurting. And I said, Why, because I’m limping like crazy? She told me, No, because you haven’t walked the beach,” he recalls.

Golf was part of the vacation, but his knees wouldn’t cooperate for that either.

“I played golf on Friday but could play only three holes on Sunday,” shares Bill. “We got back home, and I realized I had to do something about my knees.”

Bill was adamant about what he didn’t want: knee replacement surgery. “There are just too many horror stories about knee replacement operations,” he explains.

He had heard about a leading-edge treatment for degenerative joints and damage to tendons and ligaments called stem cell therapy. The therapy is regenerative medicine. It harnesses the body’s natural healing power through extracting the patient’s own stem cells, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and growth factors, then injecting them into the damaged joint.

While exploring the option of stem cell therapy, Bill knew that choosing the right physician would be crucial for his success. With this new technology and so many doctors now trying to “jump on the bandwagon” with stem cells, how to choose?  His research led him to Erick A. Grana, MD, at Regenerative Orthopedic Institute. 

In addition to his chemical engineering degree from Georgia Tech,
Dr. Grana has three board certifications in Physical & Rehabilitation Medicine, Pain Management, and Electrodiagnostic Medicine. With these unique qualifications, Bill knew Dr. Grana was the right doctor for the job.  Dr. Grana is a leading physician in regenerative medicine for orthopedic care. Over the past ten years, he has helped hundreds of patients find pain relief without surgery through stem cell therapy for painful knees, necks, shoulders, elbows, hips, lower backs and other joints.

The Body’s Healing Power

With stem cell therapy, people can regain function of a damaged joint without surgery. It not only offers pain relief, but also has the capacity to repair damage that arthritis and injuries can cause. It is important to use cells from the patient’s own body, so there is no chance of reactive side effects or rejection.

“When I first was introduced to stem cell therapy, I recognized its tremendous potential for patients who otherwise have very few options for pain relief,” notes Dr. Grana.

“Patients with osteoarthritis don’t have many good options other than surgery when their condition advances and the joint is damaged,” he continues. “Surgery has many potential complications. When we treat arthritic joints without surgery, patients do much better.”

Dr. Grana determined that Bill was a candidate for stem cell therapy.

Bill learned that stem cell harvesting and treatment for his painful knees would be completed in the same visit. Stem cells are taken from fat tissue, bone marrow or both in a quick, minimally invasive well tolerated procedure. Blood is also drawn from the patient to create a solution that is rich in PRP and growth factors.

The Institute follows a specialized system developed by Dr. Grana for delivery of the stem cells, PRP and growth factors into the pain generators in and around joints, such as shoulders and knees. The protocol is called RegenaJoint™. Dr. Grana developed a system to treat the spine in a similar manner through a process called RegenaSpine™.

“We perform RegenaJoint by placing injections into the knee joint and ligaments surrounding the knee; ligaments around the shoulder and inside the shoulder joint; or into the hip joint area,” educates Dr. Grana. “If the problem is in the back, the RegenaSpine procedure can be performed on the discs and facet joints of the spine.”

The procedures are performed in the office procedural suite with no bleeding, scarring or downtime.

Unlike many doctor offices, Dr. Grana uses image guidance through high end equipment such as fluoroscopy and ultrasound to deliver stem cells into the painful areas. In treating hundreds of patients, he knows the importance of precise placement.

“The imaging equipment guides us to put the stem cells where they need to go. Not everybody does it this way, which is a shame because the results are much better when performed with precision,” he notes.

What Pain?

Stem cell therapy creates a repair process that continues for several months. As Bill experienced, improvements in pain and function will take place much earlier.Bill Lynes treated for two bad knees through stem cell therapy at Regenerative Orthopedic Institute.

The procedure was quick and easy for Bill, who had injections for both knees after his stem cells, PRP and growth factors were extracted and prepared. The entire process took less than two hours.

“I could feel the difference in just a few days and really noticed a difference after seven to ten days. All of a sudden, I could straighten my leg nearly all the way out,” he shares.

Seven weeks after the procedure, Bill was enjoying golf again.

“It’s absolutely the most amazing thing in the world. I’m probably seventy-
five to eighty percent better in my left knee and a hundred percent better in my right knee,” he marvels. “At work, I’ll be on my feet for five to six hours at a time. When I feel my knees tightening up, I’ll sit down for about five minutes, get up and it’s like they’re brand-new.”

He’s thankful that he chose Dr. Grana and the Regenerative Orthopedic Institute.

“Dr. Grana is very knowledgeable and explains everything he is doing,” says Bill, who appreciates the skilled doctor’s attention to details and how he listens.

“I went back a little while ago for what they call the booster that is a PRP injection. Dr. Grana asked me if I had any pain, and I told him under the left kneecap will hurt every now and then. He gave me an injection in that spot, and now it feels great,” continues Bill.

“I tell anybody who is thinking about stem cell therapy to go see Dr. Grana.”

FHCN article by Susan Hemmingway. Photo by Fred Bellet. Stock photo from mkb
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