Blog Posts

New Technology Brings Back the Old-time House Call

March 17th, 2020

What was old is now new again.

House calls, where a doctor arrives at your door with a black bag and stethoscope, are making a comeback.

Only this time, medical providers come equipped with portable X-ray machines, labs and even EKG machines.

“We’re bringing house calls back to medicine because we believe in high-quality patient-centered, convenient care,” says Dr. Paul Nanda, chief medical officer of Tampa General Hospital Urgent Care powered by Fast Track. “As medical providers, we want to provide a concierge service for our patients, convenient care when they need it most in the comfort of their own home.”

The hospital and its urgent care partner recently began offering house calls in South Tampa and Riverview, with plans to expand the service to other areas. A discounted fee of $149 is offered through Nov. 30; after that, the standard fee is $199 per visit.

The service provides treatments for cough, colds, sore throat, ear infections, eye problems, urinary tract infections, vomiting, rashes, fevers and sprains. Urgent Care at Home powered by Fast Track also provides medical testing and diagnostics for flu, strep, rapid RSV, urinalysis and more for anyone ages three months and older.

Tampa General Hospital’s move comes as startups threaten to disrupt the health care system across the nation with technology that allows physicians access to equipment and supplies that once bound them to offices.

Here’s how it typically works: patients can contact the services through an online app, the website or simply make a phone call. A staff member takes information about the person’s symptoms and determines if a house call is the appropriate method of treatment.

Anyone with an emergency is urged to call 9-1-1. Otherwise, the staff member schedules an appointment and sends the care team to the patient’s home. A mobile unit arrives with everything available at a traditional urgent care center.

DispatchHealth, a Denver-based company, offers in-home services in 10 markets across eight states. Florida is not one of those states, but according to its website,  the company is “coming soon” to Tampa.

It accepts most forms of insurance and says those with private insurance plans can expect to pay about $50 per visit. For those without insurance, services are available for a flat fee of $275.

DispatchHealth spokeswoman Andrea Pearson confirmed that the company will begin offering services to Tampa in 2020 but did not provide further details.

She said the house call services are “ideal for seniors and people who have frequent needs for acute medical care” as well as for those “who think the emergency room is their only option.”

The new doctor’s offices on wheels are getting the attention of more than just potential patients. A four-year-old tech startup called Heal has raised more than $75 million in venture capital and is backed by celebrity investors such as Lionel Richie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Unlike Dispatch Health, which defines its role as an urgent care partner with established health care providers, Heal also provides preventive and primary care.

“It’s a concept for health care that is so simple, so cost-effective and so personal,” Richie told CNBC. “Patients love the individualized attention. Doctors love the fact they can practice medicine without all the administrative paperwork and expense of operating an office or clinic.”

Bush, who also sits on the Heal’s board, said the company, which now serves nine metro areas, told the network that he sees Heal eventually going national.

“There are managed-care companies interested in partnering with Heal, and doctors love it,” he said. “But scaling services in each market will take time.”

Even the federal government has gotten in on the act. A pilot project that was approved along with the Affordable Care Act incentivizes house calls for chronically ill Medicare patients in an attempt to keep them out of emergency rooms and lower health care costs.

The Independence at Home program reported a total savings of $24.7 million during the first three years, which included 10,000 patients in 15 locations.

According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid, statistics from the fifth year in 2017 found that costs were reduced by an average of $2,711 per patient, about 8.4 percent below target expenditures.

In 2018, Congress extended the program until the end of 2020.

“Home-based primary care allows health care providers to spend more time with their patients, perform assessments in a patient’s home, and assume greater accountability for all aspects of the patient’s care,” according to Medicare officials.

“This focus on timely and appropriate care is designed to improve overall quality of care and quality of life for patients served while lowering health care costs by forestalling the need for care in institutional settings.”

Doctors Without Borders

March 8th, 2020

When much of the area in and around Managua, Nicaragua was destroyed by an earthquake in December 1972, humanitarians from all over the world pitched in to help the Central American country recover.

Among them were legendary baseball player Roberto Clemente and a team of volunteers, all of whom perished when the cargo airplane they were flying in crashed on New Year’s Eve 1972.

Also coming to the aid of Nicaraguans in the wake of that disaster was a fledgling organization known as Doctors Without Borders, which faced its first test as a relief agency during the Nicaraguan tragedy.

What, precisely, is Doctors Without Borders? It is an independent humanitarian non-government agency that provides various forms of medical assistance throughout the world.

Internationally, it is known as Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF), for it was founded in Paris, France in December 1971 by a group of journalists and physicians who were of the belief that much international aid was obstructed by legal barriers and was also medically inadequate.

The simplest definition of the organization comes from a MSF promotional video: “Doctors Without Borders…provides aid to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters.”

In 2009, MSF was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. Accepting the award was MSF’s then President of International Council, Dr. James Orbinski, a Canadian physician and one of the many doctors, surgeons, and nurses who mostly comprise the medical sector of MSF.

MSF receives approximately three million dollars in fiscal assistance each year. More than 80 percent of those funds are used to finance MSF programs. The remainder goes to administrative, management, and fundraising duties and responsibilities.

More than 23,000 people work in all sorts of vocations for MSF, which has approximately 3,000 paid employees and 20,000 volunteers working across the globe.

Five of the 24 MSF offices are referred to by MSF officials as Operational Centers, or OCs, and all five are located on the European continent in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Geneva and Paris.

Other MSF bureaus can be found in Toronto, Canada; New Delhi, India;  Rio de Janiero, Brazil; Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Taipei, Taiwan, which is the site of the first office on the Asian continent.

Interestingly, although MSF exists does work in more than 70 countries, the United States is not one of them. The reason for this is, according to the Doctors Without Borders website, is that “there are other organizations with experience serving these populations that are better placed to address these challenges.”

MSF employees and volunteers are independent of any political ideology and only once in the organization’s history – during the 1994 genocide between the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda – have its workers asked for military intervention.

Some of the more recent examples of MSF’s work include providing medical care for those affected by the outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this year; the admittance of more than 50 people to a hospital in Yemen after they were injured while publicly demonstrating against various governmental policies in that country, and the providing of various psychotherapy services to people living with extreme pressures north of the West Bank.
Much of the world’s populace continues to have problems but MSF’s work to help people cope with their problems continues as the organization seeks to provide independent, neutral and impartial medical aid where it’s needed.

COVID-19: An Update

February 14th, 2020

The spread of the novel coronavirus, recently named COVID-19, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, continues to dominate the news, and with good reason. As of Tuesday, February 11, the death toll from this virus topped 1,100.

(Krysten I. Houk/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services via AP, File)

FILE – This Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, file photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows evacuees from China arriving at Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, Calif. An evacuee from China has tested positive for the coronavirus and has been isolated at a San Diego hospital, a person with direct knowledge of the matter tells The Associated Press, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020.

That exceeds the death toll from the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, epidemic of 2003. During that epidemic, 8,000 people in China were infected by the virus and nearly 800 people died.

According to The World Health Organization (WHO), there are currently more than 45,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in China alone. There are another 395 confirmed cases of infection in 24 other countries including the United States.

In fact, the total number of cases in the US rose to 13 when an evacuee transported from China to California was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Monday, February 10. This person left Wuhan on a State Department-chartered flight that carried 167 people from China to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in Sand Diego on Wednesday, February 3.

Initially, four of the Wuhan evacuees were hospitalized when they showed signs of the pneumonia-like illness caused by COVID-19. These signs include cough, fever and shortness of breath. The four individuals were isolated in “negative pressure” rooms that prevented the inside air from escaping and spreading the virus. Fortunately, only one of the four ended up positive for COVID-19. It was the seventh confirmed case of the virus in California

Hundreds of other people were evacuated from China to other military bases in California, Texas and Nebraska. Five people who went to Travis Air Force Base between San Francisco and Sacramento were taken to the hospital when they showed symptoms of illness, but none of them tested positive for the virus.

Elsewhere, about 200 people who were sent to March Reserve Air Base in Southern California were scheduled to be released from a two-week quarantine. And no symptoms were reported among evacuees taken to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio or Nebraska’s National Guard training base in Omaha.

In addition, at least 24 Americans are among the 135 people infected with COVID-19 aboard a cruise ship stranded in Japan.  More than 3,000 people are stuck on that ship, which became a floating quarantine zone after dozens of people tested positive for the virus. Currently, non-infected passengers are permitted to briefly leave their cabins to get fresh air, but they must wear masks and stay one meter away from each other.

Fortunately, there are some positive steps being taken to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. In China, Suzhou-based BrightGene Bio-Medical Technology announced that is has begun mass-producing an experimental drug from Gilead Sciences called remdesivir to battle the highly infectious COVID-19.

BrightGene said it must license the patent for remdesivir from Gilead Sciences, conduct clinical trials and get regulatory approval before it can put the drug on the market. Gilead Sciences invented the drug and patented it in China for use on coronaviruses. The company is working with Chinese, US and WHO officials to determine whether it can be used with COVID-19.

In addition, WHO officials announced that a vaccine against COVID-19 could be ready in 18 months. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, reported that early testing of the vaccine will likely begin in April. In the meantime, countries will have to use what resources they have to fight the virus.

For us, the best way to battle COVID-19, or any virus, is to take pre-emptive steps to prevent contracting and spreading it. To stay healthy, try following these tips:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue, then throw out the tissue.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay at home when you are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing and sneezing

Fortunately, it’s unlikely you will become infected with COVID-19 unless you recently traveled to China, particularly Wuhan, or are in close contact with someone else who has. But if we all take steps to prevent and detect this virus, maybe we can keep the infection rate in the US from skyrocketing.

The Best Valentine’s Gift is a Healthy Heart

February 5th, 2020

Here we are in February already. We’ve gotten through the stress of the holidays and if you’re like me, you made promises to yourself to take better care of your health this year. So how’s that going for you? Hopefully, you’re making good on your promise to yourself.

Along those lines, February brings with it Valentine’s Day, and there is no better gift that you can give yourself, or your significant other, than a healthy heart. That’s why February is American Heart Month.

According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Some of the biggest risk factors associated with heart disease are uncontrolled high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. Other conditions can also put you at risk for heart disease. For example, carrying around extra weight puts undue stress on the heart. High blood sugar or diabetes can damage the blood vessels that help control the heart muscle. Unhealthy eating and inactivity are also risk factors.

To lower your risk, there are several things you can do. For starters, you can eat better and reduce your sodium intake. One way to do that is to fill at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables and eat foods low in trans-fat and saturated fat. And be sure to include whole grains, poultry, fish, and legumes in your diet.

Limiting sweets and sugar sweetened beverages will go a long way toward improving your heart health as well. And be sure to always choose foods rich in potassium and to limit your intake of red meats. Also, limit alcohol to no more than one drink per day, if you’re a woman, and two drinks a day if you’re a man. If you enjoy cooking, research some healthier recipes you think you’ll enjoy and maybe try something new.

Another critical step you can take to lower your risk for heart related problems is to avoid second hand smoke. And if you smoke, STOP! Sure, that’s easier said than done, but there are many cessation programs that can help.

If you can’t partake in one of those, there are other ways you can break your smoking habit or at least cut back on your smoking. Changing your routine is one such way. Instead of having a cigarette after a meal, go for a walk or brush your teeth. You can also make a list of the reasons why you want to quit and read the list every time you feel the urge to smoke. If you smoke when you drink, cut down on alcohol which will help you avoid those moments.

Another way you can improve your heart health is by finding a hobby you enjoy that will get you moving for a few hours each week. Bicycling, walking or jogging, rollerblading, yoga, tennis, or any activity that gets your heart pumping will do the trick. Just be sure to choose something you actually enjoy. That way, you’ll actually look forward to the activity. Staying active and engaging in regular physical activity helps reduce blood pressure, helps control blood sugar, as well as helps control your weight. All of these will help you reduce your risk for heart disease.

It’s also important to have your healthcare provider do a blood test to measure your cholesterol levels. You will want to know your total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol as well as your triglycerides (blood fats). Having a higher level of HDL can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. High levels of LDL on the other hand, can raise your risk because it can build up inside the arteries and form plaque which reduces blood flow. Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in your body and a major energy source. High triglycerides can cause hardening of the arteries or thickening of the artery walls, increasing the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease. Ask your healthcare provider for ways to best manage your levels.

Finally, you want to try to reduce the stress in your life wherever possible. Meditation, yoga, performing deep breathing exercises, or taking a nice hot bath can all help with this. We live in a world that is constantly on the go. Stress is inevitable but if we can limit it, or try to control it, we can help protect our heart.

Written by Laura Engel

New Chinese Virus Spreading Rapidly, Hits US

January 21st, 2020

One of the biggest stories making headlines today concerns the recently identified coronavirus in China that’s spreading rapidly, even outside of China to the United States. Chinese health authorities report that as of midnight Tuesday, the number of confirmed cases of infection from this virus rose over 440. On Monday, the total number of cases in China was 219.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Medical staff carry a patient into the Jinyintan hospital, where patients infected with a new strain of Coronavirus identified as the cause of the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak are being treated, in Wuhan, China, Jan. 18, 2020.

According to Chinese health officials, at least nine people have died from the pneumonia-like illness caused by the virus that is being called 2019 -novel coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV. In addition, 169 people are being treated at the local hospital in Wuhan, the city of 11 million people at the center of the outbreak where a number are in critical condition.

There have been cases of 2019-nCoV infection identified in other Asian nations as well. Cases were found in Thailand, Japan and South Korea, and on Tuesday, the first case of infection from the virus was confirmed in the US in a Washington man who recently traveled to Wuhan.

The Washington man is doing well medically, according to reports but is being kept in isolation as a safety precaution. Like the man in Washington, the infected patients found in Thailand, Japan and Korea are all people who are from or had traveled to Wuhan before arriving in those nations.

Chinese health officials have determined that the point of origin for the new coronavirus is a popular seafood and animal market in Wuhan. The market has since been disinfected and closed. Initially, the mode of transmission for the virus was believed to be animal to human, but on Monday, China’s National Health Commission confirmed that there have been cases involving human-to-human transmission, including a hospital patient who infected 14 health care workers.

This revelation has health officials across the globe worried, especially as millions of Chinese are expected to travel to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The celebration begins January 25 and runs until February 8. Thus far, there have been no confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV infection outside of Asia.

In an effort to keep the virus from spreading in the US, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began screening airline passengers arriving in the US from Wuhan last weekend.

As part of this undertaking, more than 100 CDC officials have been stationed at San Francisco International Airport, New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport. Approximately 5,000 passengers from Wuhan are expected to pass through those airports during the coming weeks.

Starting this week, the screening process will be expanded to include Hartsfield-Atlanta International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport. And as of Tuesday afternoon, the CDC raised its travel notice for Wuhan from level one to level two, “practice enhanced precautions.”

The CDC officials are screening passengers from Wuhan for symptoms of the 2019-nCoV virus, which include fever, cough and respiratory difficulties such as shortness of breath.

Courtesy of the CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is closely monitoring an outbreak caused by a novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.

The new Chinese virus, which was identified earlier in January as a type of coronavirus similar to the virus that caused the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in the early 2000s. During that outbreak, the SARS virus sickened more than 8,000 people and left 774 dead in 29 countries.

Coronaviruses are types of viruses that typically affect the respiratory tract of mammals, including humans. They are associated with a wide variety of illnesses including mild illnesses such as the common cold and more serious, even deadly, illnesses such as SARS and MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, which is fatal in 30 percent to 40 percent of people who contract it.

Coronaviruses got their name from the crown-like projection on their surfaces. Corona means “halo” or “crown” in Latin. In humans, coronavirus infection occurs most often during the winter months or in early spring. People can catch a second coronavirus a few months after recovering from one because their antibodies don’t last very long. Also, antibodies for one strain of coronavirus may be useless against other strains.

Courtesy of Getty images.

The Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, which has been linked to the new coronavirus, has been disinfected and closed.

There is no cure for coronavirus infection, so treatment involves taking good care of yourself. It’s important that you rest, drink plenty of water, avoid smoking and smoky areas, and use a humidifier or cool mist vaporizer in your bedroom. In addition, take over-the-counter medication to treat your fever, cough and other symptoms.

To prevent spreading coronaviruses, use your common sense and practice good hygiene. If you’re feeling sick, stay home and rest to avoid close contact with others, Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, Wash your hands frequently, especially before and after touching objects that others also handle.

With everyone’s diligent attention, we can keep China’s 2019-nCoV virus from spreading through the US. Will you do your part in this prevention effort?

America’s Suicide Crisis

January 20th, 2020

The United States is in a suicide crisis. America’s rate of suicide, now its 10th leading cause of death overall, has increased by more than 33 percent since 1999. That was among the findings of a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics research study. The results of the study were released in June.

The worst thing you can do for someone dealing with suicide or expressing suicidal thoughts is remain quiet. Speak up, reach out, learn the best way to offer support.

The Center for Health Statistics’ research discovered that suicide among Americans ages 15 to 64 rose from 10.5 per 100,000 people in 1999 to 14 per 100,000 in 2017, the most recent year with available data. That number represents the highest suicide rate in the US since World War II.

Federal data released in October showed that suicide rates are climbing in nearly every state and across age groups and ethnicities. The suicide rate for young Americans ages 10 to 24 increased 56 percent from 2007 to 2017. It’s at its highest rate this century. Suicides by active-duty military and veterans are also on the rise.

According to one study, 10 million Americans seriously considered suicide in 2018. That certainly sounds like a crisis to me.

All of these studies confirm that suicide is a significant public health problem. The CDC also reports that on average, 129 Americans die by suicide each day. Suicide claims 47,000 lives each year. That number is probably much higher considering not all suicides are reported. Men die by suicide three and a half times more often than women, but women are more likely to attempt suicide.

It’s also been determined that 90 percent of people who died by suicide had a diagnosable mental health condition at the time of their death. And if it’s diagnosable, it’s most likely treatable. Suicide affects us financially as well. It costs this nation at least $69 billion per year in medical costs and lost work productivity.

Suicide is an equal opportunity problem. Anyone can be at risk, and those risk factors are varied. They include depression, substance abuse disorder, mental health disorder or a family history of such disorders. Other risk factors include previous attempted suicide, a family history of suicide, a history of physical or sexual abuse, the presence of guns in the home or an experience with a painful medical illness.

The reasons people die by suicide are complex. In general, they react to, think, and make decisions differently than people who are not suicidal. One researcher suggests there are six main reasons people kill themselves.

In many cases, people who attempt suicide or succeed at it are depressed, which typically comes with a pervasive sense of suffering, as well as a belief that their situation is hopeless. Some people who commit suicide are psychotic, some are impulsive, some are crying out for help, and others have a philosophical desire to die. This desire can develop when people have a painful, terminal illness.

Whatever the cause, it’s imperative to know the warning signs for suicide, especially if you or a loved one has any of the risk factors. Most people who take their lives by suicide show one or more warning signs in the way they talk and behave.

Be alert if someone you know starts talking about killing themselves, or about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live. Other verbal warning signs include talking about being a burden to others, feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain.

Certain behaviors may be warning signs as well, especially if they are linked to a painful event, loss or major change. These behaviors include increased use of drugs or alcohol, looking for methods to end their life, withdrawing from activities and becoming isolated socially, visiting or calling people to say goodbye and giving away prized possessions.

Preventing suicide is the goal, and help is available. If you or a loved one is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press “1” to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.  For crisis support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.

In emergencies, call 911 or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider. Today, many hospitals and mental health providers have redesigned their practices to include research-backed tools for determining a patient’s risk for suicide. These providers then use proven interventions to prevent suicide and initiate the patient’s recovery.

Florida Flu Cases on the Rise in 2019

January 6th, 2020

With the peak of flu season upcoming, it’s important to look back at beginning of the 2019-2020 flu season, as the number of people catching influenza is already outpacing what physicians have seen in the past.

According to the Florida Department of Health, 16 outbreaks were reported during the week of Nov. 23, up from nine the week before. Of those, nine were confirmed influenza, while seven were illness with flu-like symptoms. Six counties – Hillsborough, Pinellas, Miami-Dade, Collier, Lake and Escambia – reported five or more new cases that week.

Schools across the Sunshine State have been the hardest hit this year, unlike previous seasons where facilities serving older adults reported more cases.

Overall infection rates remain mild in most Florida counties, however. The predominant strain so far has been B Victoria, which has symptoms that mimic Strain A. However, unlike strain A, influenza B is contracted only by humans. This allows strain A to spread faster than B, which makes a pandemic less likely.

A prevalence of strain B early in the season is rare, and it could mean that folks are in for a second wave caused by stain A. Last year, a second wave hit and extended the flu season through spring. The last time that strain B dominated nationally was during the 1992-93 season. However, experts say the 2019-20 season appears to pose less of a threat.

“Overall, this season has not been as scary. Of course, it’s still early,’’ Ogbonnaya Omenka, assistant professor and public health specialist at Butler University told USA Today. “So far, different health departments have been able to contain it in ways that have allowed us not to have some type of significant outbreak or problem.’’

Nationally, activity continues to increase but the amount of activity and flu strains vary by region. Also, four of 10 regions in the United States were at or above their baselines in the number of visits to outpatient providers, with 2.9 percent of all visits reported as flu-like illnesses. That’s up from 2.4 percent reported during each of the past three weeks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The flu has already killed five pediatric patients this season.

As for this year’s vaccine, it’s still too soon to determine its effectiveness. However, the fact that World Health Organization changed the strains for the upcoming season in the Southern Hemisphere may indicate what one epidemiologist described as “a mismatch.”

That said, a vaccine still gives you better odds that you would get in Vegas and are still available in most areas. Health care providers say it’s never too late to get one. In addition to a vaccine, other ways of preventing the spread of flu are to avoid being around people who are sick, stay home when you are sick, cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow, and of course, regular handwashing. Here are tips on proper handwashing techniques.

Spinal Decompression Therapy FAQs

December 30th, 2019

Neck and back pain are unfortunate issues that most of us experience at some point in our lives. Our bodies are, after all, flesh and blood, and we often forget how much we put them through on a daily basis. Americans spend over 50 billion dollars every year on pain management, which includes everything from MRIs to pain medications. It’s safe to say that people are trying whatever they can to improve the quality of their lives. But who wants to deal with the pain, baggage, and potential problems that can result from surgery or taking narcotics?

Fortunately, there is another option available. Spinal Decompression Therapy has exploded throughout the chiropractic world over the last decade as more and more chiropractors are implementing the treatment into their services. Why? Because it works. We’ve broken down the top questions and concerns and debunked a few myths so you can familiarize yourself with a new potential option to treat your pain.

What Is Spinal Decompression Therapy?

Spinal Decompression Therapy (SDT) is a method of gently decompressing or stretching the spine. The spine itself is not actually the main focus through this procedure – that is the intervertebral discs. Through stretching, space is created between each vertebrae to relieve pressure and give the intervertebral discs room to correct themselves.

What Are Intervertebral Discs?

Intervertebral discs are gel-like cushions that sit between each vertebrae of the spine. Their purposes are to hold the vertebrae together, absorb shock, and protect the spinal nerves. When these discs are damaged or injured, they can cause severe pain and discomfort. They also can bulge or break off, which puts pressure on the surrounding nerves.

What Can Spinal Decompression Therapy Treat?

Spinal Decompression Therapy can treat:

  • Spinal Radiculopathy – A condition due to a compressed nerve in the spine that can cause pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness of the nerve. It is most common in the neck and lower back.
  • Myelopathy – A nervous system disorder that affects the spinal cord.
  • Claudication – A common symptom of lumbar spinal stenosis which causes inflammation of the nerves emerging from the spinal cord.
  • Bulging, Degenerating, or Herniated Discs – A condition where the soft center of a spinal disk pushes through a crack in the tough exterior casing. It can irritate nearby nerves and result in pain, numbness, or weakness in an arm or leg.
  • Sciatica – Pain radiating along the sciatic nerve, which runs down one or both legs from the lower back. It primarily occurs when a herniated disk or bone spur in the spine presses on the nerve and usually only affects one side of the body.
  • Spinal Stenosis – A narrowing of the spaces within the spine, which can put pressure on the nerves. It occurs most often in the neck and lower back.

What Is the Recovery Time for Spinal Decompression Therapy Surgery?

Spinal Decompression Therapy is non-surgical and non-invasive, so there is no surgery recovery time. As a therapy, SDT takes place over time and is not a solution that can be completed in a single visit.

How Long Does Spinal Decompression Therapy Take?

The length of time and number of visits you’ll need to schedule will be different for each individual based off of your specific circumstances and physical needs. On average, most people need to attend between 15 to 30 separate sessions. Each SDT session usually lasts between 30 to 45 minutes.

What Equipment Is Used?

Chiropractors who follow the most recent advances in industry standards use state of the art equipment, such as the Accu-SPINA table, to perform Spinal Decompression Therapy. The Accu-SPINA system was developed by physicians and scientists to help combat neck and back pain that is unresponsive to other therapies. Clinical trials performed with the Accu-SPINA system revealed that 86% of participants experienced symptoms of pain relief.

Where Can I Find Spinal Decompression Near Me?

An experienced chiropractor in your area that has successfully completed the Spinal Decompression Therapy training and certification program can help bring you relief through Spinal Decompression Therapy.

When Should I Try Spinal Decompression Therapy?

If you’re experiencing neck and back pain and have not had any relief or progress with other kinds of therapies, Spinal Decompression Therapy may be your next option. Whether you’ve been battling chronic pain for years or have just recently been involved in an auto accident, Spinal Decompression Therapy is an option at any time in your recovery process. Don’t hesitate to see an SDT trained and certified chiropractor as soon as possible since it is possible for many injuries our bodies sustain to not make themselves known right away and worsen over time. Also keep in mind that if you’ve been in an auto accident, you only have 14 days from the date of the accident to seek medical care and have it covered by your personal injury protection insurance.

Researchers say psychedelic substance found in mushrooms may prove to be magic for mental health

December 24th, 2019

Critics encourage use of less risky alternatives.

The term “magic mushrooms” typically conjures images of hippies in tie-dyed t-shirts tripping out while listening to psychedelic rock music during the 1960s. However, the reputation of the fungi that is synonymous with the counterculture is changing.

Recent scientific studies at leading academic institutions point to promising results in the use of psilocybin, the hallucinogen in these mushrooms, for treating some of the most challenging mental health issues as well as addiction. This shift in mindset has also resulted in some cities and states moving to decriminalize possession of “shrooms.”

After nearly 20 years of research with psychedelics, Johns Hopkins Medicine announced the launch of a $17 million privately funded research center to study the potential for the drugs to treat severe mental health and addiction issues. The announcement follows the work of two professors who gave psilocybin to more than 350 volunteers who suffered from depression, anxiety or addiction. The ultimate goal of the center is to focus on the most challenging problems such as Alzheimer’s disease, opioid addictions and major depression and anxiety.

Some test subjects shared their experiences with psilocybin during a recent segment of CBS’s 60 Minutes newsmagazine. All reported relief from debilitating depression and addictions to smoking and alcohol. One woman who had advanced cancer said she no longer feared death.

“This is extraordinarily interesting” the center’s director and professor of behavioral biology, Roland Griffiths, told reporter Anderson Cooper. “It’s unprecedented and the capacity of the human organism to change. It was just astounding.”

Researchers say the drug quiets two parts of the brain that talk to each other while opening up communication lines among parts of the brain that don’t. This results in a loss of identity and accounts for the subject’s ability to perceive things differently.

Subjects, who are screened for psychotic behavior, are given large doses of the drug and monitored for six hours by a trained guide while in a special study room. They lie on a couch with a blanket, sleep mask and wear headphones that play classical or choral music.

Griffiths and his assistant director, who won FDA approval for the studies in 2000, told CBS that about a third of the subjects reported unpleasant experiences while on the drug. He said they have no way of predicting who will have a pleasant, deeply spiritual experience and who will have a “bad trip.”

However, those who reported nightmarish experiences said those proved to be the key to improving their outcomes.

Stories like these, along with the growing acceptance of medical marijuana, have prompted some cities to relax laws dealing with possession of such mushrooms.

In May, Denver voters passed a ballot measure to decriminalize psilocybin and direct local law enforcement to give psychedelic mushrooms the lowest arrest priority for adults 21 and older. The council in Oakland, California, also voted to loosen its mushroom laws soon after Denver. Advocates in other parts of California and in Oregon now are pushing for the same.

In Florida, the situation is complicated. Possession of psilocybin remains illegal. However, in 1978 the Florida Supreme Court found that mushrooms could not be reasonably found to be “containers” of the drug. The court essentially held that if the Florida Legislature wished to outlaw wild psilocybin mushrooms, it would have to name them in the law. So far, lawmakers have not done so.

This is why when Florida Fish and Wildlife officers catch suspected “Shroom hunters,” they typically charge them with removing plant life from a wildlife management area, as it’s hard to prove they intended to use the mushrooms to get high.

Reformers hope that the research will change the stereotypes related to psychedelics, which were banned from being studied in 1970 after they became equated with the hippies and liberalism. Also, scandal resulted after it became known that the CIA gave LSD to people without their knowledge in an attempt to develop a mind control program during the 1950s and 60s.

Critics say that other treatments are available that work on depression, including ketamine, a common anesthetic that won FDA approval for depression after researchers at Yale University spent two decades studying it. This year, it came out in the form of a nasal spray that patients give themselves while in a physician’s office.

“Depression is a brain disease,” said Robert Pollack, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist from Fort Myers. “It’s not just a moment in time.”

The Yale studies have shown that depression is caused by abnormalities of the neurotransmitters GABA and glutamate, which are responsible for most activities in the brain. Ketamine, which Dr. Pollack offers at his practice, triggers glutamate production.

He also expressed concerns that the recent coverage of psilocybin studies might endanger lives by encouraging people to experiment on their own.

“The media just sensationalizes this because it’s about psychedelic drugs,” he said. “It’s irresponsible journalism.”

If you want to know just how dangerous psychedelics can be, he said, “Ask any emergency room doctors who treated patients who took LSD in the 1960s and 70s. The problems they saw were terrible.”

What’s Causing Our Superbug Crisis? Sneaky Germs

December 19th, 2019

A report issued in November by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed some bad news and some good news about infections caused by antibiotic-resistant microbes, or superbugs, in America. Superbugs are germs such a bacteria and fungi that can’t be destroyed by the medications currently available to fight them.

First, the bad news: In the report, the CDC noted that antibiotic-resistant superbugs have killed nearly twice as many people as previously believed. Also, the CDC announced it has identified two new, potentially deadly superbugs, bringing the total of most threatening superbugs to five.

One of the new superbugs,, a fungus called Candida auris, was a bit of a surprise to CDC officials. Five years ago, they weren’t even considering Candida auris as a serious threat. But it is now.

Among the superbugs we’ve known about, C difficle is a particularly nasty one. It is considered an urgent threat by health officials. C difficle alone caused nearly 250,000 infections in 2017, the most recent year for available data. It also caused at least 12,000 deaths that year.

The good news is that the total number of deaths from superbug infections has declined by 18 percent. The CDC estimates that 36,000 Americans died as a result of superbug infections in 2017. Compare that to 44,000 deaths in 2013. The decline is attributed, at least in part, to more judicious prescribing of antibiotics by physicians.

Antibiotic resistance is considered one of the world’s most pressing health problems. It happens when the germs find a way to survive the onslaught of death caused by the drugs. Bacteria are sneaky. They can alter antibiotics’ effect on them in several ways. I’ll describe a few of those ways soon.

Just to be clear, it’s the bacteria that become resistant to the medications. Individuals don’t become resistant. But resistant germs can be spread from person to person, and before you know it, an entire community is at risk.

So how do germs become resistant to antibiotics? The short answer is: They fight back!. They develop defense strategies called resistance mechanisms. Bacteria develop these mechanisms by altering the coded instructions found in their DNA. They can then share altered pieces of their DNA with other germs, making them resistant as well.

One of the resistance mechanisms bacteria use is to restrict the access of the antibiotics. Bacteria do this by changing or limiting the entryways for the antibiotics into their cells. That way, the drugs can’t get inside the bacteria to destroy them.

A second defense strategy of bacteria is to rid themselves of the antibiotic. They use pumps located in their cell walls to pump out any antibiotic that gets into the cells. A third strategy is to change or destroy the antibiotic using enzymes and proteins that break down the medication, rendering it useless.

Many antibiotics are designed to single out and destroy specific parts of a bacterium. These are the medications’ targets. One resistance mechanism is to bypass the effects of the antibiotics by developing new cell processes that avoid using the antibiotics’ targets.

Bacteria also develop resistance by changing the antibiotics’ targets. As a result, the antibiotics no longer fit and the drugs can’t do their job of destroying the bacteria.

The CDC and the World Health Organization continue to call on physicians to prescribe antibiotics only when they’re absolutely necessary and appropriate to treat patients’ infections. They ask us to take action as well to use antibiotics wisely. Here are a few suggestions for things you can do:

  • Don’t pressure your doctor to prescribe an antibiotic for a viral infection such as a cold or the flu. Antibiotics aren’t effective on viruses. Ask your doctor about other ways to treat your viral infection.
  • Don’t save antibiotics you didn’t use for the next time you get sick. Discard any medication that’s left over once you’ve completed your prescribed course of treatment.
  • Take your antibiotics exactly as your doctor prescribes. Don’t skip doses, and be sure to take the medication until it’s gone. For it to be most effective, you must take the medication for the entire time of your treatment .You may start to feel better and think you don’t need the medication anymore, but take it for the full course anyway. Some germs may survive the antibiotics’ initial effect and re-infect you if you stop too soon.
  • Don’t take someone else’s antibiotics. They may not be right drugs for your type of infection. Taking the wrong antibiotic can delay your treatment and allow the bacteria to multiply.

 

Page 6 of 26