Author Archive

Make No Bones About It

Innovative once-a-week, 15-minute workouts reverse osteoporosis.

Every member receives one-on-one coaching with every session

When residents in western Tennessee woke up to find themselves buried under nearly nine inches of snow one day this past February, Sandy* was glad she listened to her husband eight years ago when he suggested they retire to Florida.

“We lived in Collierville, which is a suburb of Memphis, and we had some snow days there but nothing like that,” Sandy remarks. “To have a snow day like that is very unusual, so I’m very glad we’re now in Florida.”

While her husband retired from a position with International Paper, Sandy retired from a computer consulting firm she built up over 30 years of serving small businesses across the Memphis region.

“I had a great time with that business because I had a fantastic relationship with IBM,” Sandy explains. “When I first got into it, IBM was still using third-party consultants to install, implement and write code for small businesses, and that’s what I ended up doing.”

Sandy, 72, thought her career as a businesswoman ended when she left Tennessee, but she recently became involved in a new venture. Like her work in the computer industry, she is once again involved in a product on the leading edge of technology: pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, a treatment option for certain types of pain.

“I became a rep for a company that makes PEMF mats,” Sandy reports. “I was having great results using one for the arthritis in my hands. One thing led to another, and now it’s turned into a business for me.”

Sandy, an active woman who walks up to five miles a day, became familiar with PEMF mats while tackling another health issue: osteoporosis, which along with its precursor, osteopenia, can lead to severe bone breaks.

You Create the Force

Found most often in postmenopausal women, this bone loss develops when bone growth fails to keep pace with natural bone degeneration to the point that bone mineral density becomes dangerously low.

Osteopenia and osteoporosis can be treated with medication but only for a limited time. When Sandy reached that threshold with her medication a few years ago, she began looking for an alternative treatment. She found one at OsteoStrong.

OsteoStrong is a revolutionary program that has helped more than 25,000 people reverse the negative effects of bone loss through once-a-week, 15-minute sessions that utilize proprietary equipment to achieve osteogenesis.

The equipment includes four biomechanical machines that allow users to be placed in the safest and strongest position. During these sessions, users can safely exert pressure four to 12 times their body weight.

“The difference between our equipment and the equipment used at a traditional gym is that our equipment is focused to strengthen the skeletal system, which means tension is developed without contraction of the muscle,” states Bill Atterbury, owner of OsteoStrong near The Villages®. “There is no force pushing against you, which means you create the force.

“On the leg press, for example, I’ve had ladies in their 80s who weigh 100 pounds press 1,000 pounds. That’s because the equipment is designed to keep you in a safe position. For a person who weighs 100 pounds to develop new bone using traditional equipment, they would need to create a resistance of well over 400 pounds. That simply cannot be done for 99 percent of all people in a gym environment because it involves weights they couldn’t physically move. Or, if they could move them, they’d be at high risk of injury.”

Resistance Yields Results

To understand the difference, Bill invites people to come in and try the equipment, noting that his facility offers a complimentary tour and session.

“What we do at OsteoStrong is help people build a stronger skeletal system, which further allows them to live a healthier, more active life,” Bill points out. “That’s why I felt it was so important to open an OsteoStrong facility near The Villages. I’m a resident of The Villages, and I know that the people who live in this area are very conscientious about living healthy, active lives. If I can help give them another 10 or 15 years of that healthy, active lifestyle, that’s a win-win situation for all involved.

“This is an amazing concept based on a century-old theory called Wolff’s Law that looked into the body’s natural adaptive response to growing new bone and improving bone density. Through that theory and years of research, we have come to learn that when you put certain forces on the bones, the body responds by growing bone tissue.

“That’s a known medical fact, and the results of these short sessions are absolutely amazing. On average, our studies show that OsteoStrong improves bone density from 7 to 14 percent per year. Also, people typically increase their strength by an average of 73 percent over their first year at OsteoStrong.”

Similar studies also show that having an OsteoStrong session more than once a week does not promote additional benefits. As a result, the sessions are not only impactful, but time efficient.

And the advantages go beyond reversing osteoporosis.

They can also help alleviate pain and suffering associated with arthritis, fibromyalgia, knee and back pain, neuropathy, Type 2 diabetes and vertigo.

Bill encourages people of all ages to accept his invitation to try out the OsteoStrong equipment.

“Osteoporosis is not something that only happens to old people,” he explains. “We have clients from young to old and everything in between. And men are not immune. When they start losing their testosterone, their bone loss becomes more rapid.

“In addition to helping them recover from it, OsteoStrong wants to help educate people about bone loss. The skeletal framework is the most important part of the body, and you need to take care of it and be aware of c1hanges to it.”

Highly Recommended

Sandy discovered OsteoStrong after she realized some additions to her exercise routine were not providing the benefits she needed to ward off the effects of her osteoporosis.

“I continued to exercise, but my bone density tests showed that osteoporosis was still evident,” she says. “One day, I happened to see OsteoStrong, which is not far from my house, and decided to check it out. Bill was there at the time, and he gave me a brief introduction to what was offered, and I immediately felt like this would be a good fit for me and enable me to build my bones so they would be stronger. I’ve been doing it ever since.”

OsteoStrong near The Villages offers members other wellness treatments as well, including PEMF therapy. Before purchasing her own PEMF mat, Sandy took advantage of that by spending a few minutes each week using OsteoStrong’s PEMF mats on her hand.

“The PEMF mat really worked,” she enthuses. “After a while, my hands just quit hurting. That’s why I decided to get a PEMF mat for myself and eventually became a rep for the company. Eventually, though, I wanted to see if the workouts were helping my bones.

“Medicare only pays for a bone density scan once every two years, and I had one just about a year before I started doing OsteoStrong workouts, so I paid for a second scan myself. The results were unbelievable. They showed the bone density in my spine is normal, so I no longer have osteopenia in my spine. I still have osteopenia in my hip area, but my doctor said that is a very large dense bone and it’s going to take longer to see results there.

“The bottom line is the numbers are going in the right direction, so I’m thrilled. I just can’t say enough great things about OsteoStrong and the people there who run it. They’re all very helpful, and it’s a great program. I highly recommend it.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photo courtesy of OsteoStrong. mkb
* Patient’s name changed at her request.

Back In The Driver’s Seat

20/20 vision achieved with PanOptix replacement lens.

Mary Abbott headshot

“The most amazing thing to me… is how well I see things up close now.” – Mary

When Mary Abbott’s longtime employer, a major tobacco company, offered her a buyout too lucrative to pass up, she took the money and ran — straight into retirement.

Three months later, Mary was back at work. Not with the same company but in the same industry and doing roughly the same job. However, much has changed about the way Mary goes about her day.

“I used to travel four days a week every week,” she says. “But ever since COVID-19 hit, I have not been traveling the way I used to. I’ve been working from home for a year now. The good thing is I found that I really enjoy being at home.

“I never minded the travel, but I felt like I was never home enough to do some of the things I like to do. I enjoy being with family and doing things outdoors like boating, jet skiing and just being by the pool. I can do a lot more of that now.”

Before the change, Mary’s travels took her to the Florida Panhandle, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana. It was a little more than a year ago during one of her final business trips that she first noticed a problem with her eyesight.

“I began to notice that I couldn’t see very well after dark when I was driving,” Mary remembers. “There was a really bad glare from the oncoming cars. In the winter, especially, when it got dark earlier, I had to rearrange my schedule because of it.

“When you’re traveling in areas you don’t know very well and you’re struggling to see, you don’t feel very comfortable being on the road. I made sure I was back at my hotel by 4 or 5 o’clock each day, before it got dark.

Additionally, she didn’t want to drive at night, making it difficult to go out to dinner.

“After a while,” Mary recollects, “I mentioned the problem to my sister, who suggested that I have cataracts,” a condition that also affected their mother.

“You’re having the same problems Mom had, and to this day, I still believe that if Mom had gotten her cataracts taken care of, she never would have been in that car accident that was the start of all the problems she died from a year later,” Mary recalls her sister saying.

A Common Development

Cataracts typically develop because of a breakdown of the eye’s lens fibers, a clumping of the eye’s proteins or both. They often result in blurred vision, an increase in sensitivity to light and/or a reduction in the vibrancy of colors.

There is no known way to prevent or slow the development of cataracts, which mostly affect people 55 and older. However, surgery to remove cataracts has become one of the most common procedures in medicine. More than 4 million cataract surgeries are performed each year in the United States.

Mary soon took her sister’s advice and decided to learn whether she had cataracts and if surgery was needed.

“One day, I received a copy of Florida Health Care News in the mail,” Mary relates. “I was looking through it, and there was a story about a woman who was having the same problem I had. She was mostly having trouble seeing at night, and it turned out she had cataracts.
“She had nothing but praise for the doctor she went to see about them, and I decided to call the very same place and ask for the same doctor.”

The practice is Pasadena Eye Center.

When Mary made that call, she was asked whether she preferred a particular doctor. Based on what she read in the article, she only wanted to see David E. Hall, MD.

“I told them, I’m sure you have plenty of other doctors and they’re all great, but the woman I read about had nothing but rave reviews for Dr. Hall,” Mary confirms. “They said, Dr. Hall it is.

Dr. Hall first examined Mary in March 2020. He confirmed that her vision problems stem from developing cataracts and suggested she have surgery to remove them. Mary agreed.

Cataract surgery is typically performed on one eye at a time, with a break of a week or two between procedures. During each procedure, the clouded lens is broken up and removed with an ultrasonic device. It is then replaced with an artificial intraocular lens, or IOL.

IOLs are made of acrylic or silicone and coated with special material to protect the eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. During surgery, the IOL is rolled up and placed in the eye. Once in place, the IOL is unfolded and side structures called haptics hold it in place.

Like contact lenses, IOLs are available in different focusing powers. Standard IOLs correct vision primarily for distance, but patients can have one eye fixed for distance and the other for reading, an option called monovision.

A third option is a multifocal IOL. Most multifocal IOLs are bifocal lenses that correct distance and either reading or intermediate vision.

But there is a more advanced multifocal lens that acts as a trifocal lens to correct distance, reading and intermediate vision: the PanOptix. For people who want to be truly glasses-free following cataract surgery, the PanOptix is fast becoming the IOL most often recommended by doctors, including Dr. Hall.

The PanOptix is “one of the most exciting things that’s happened in cataract surgery in years,” Dr. Hall reports. “I’m so happy with the results we’re getting from it that I’ve made it my lens of choice for all my patients who want multifocal IOLs.”

Dr. Hall warns that the PanOptix lens may not work well for every patient. He notes that patients who have had LASIK surgery or anyone who has a cornea condition, macular degeneration or diplopia (double vision) are not good candidates.

But for patients such as Mary, or anyone who may be nearsighted and does not have another lingering vision issue, the PanOptix is considered the gold standard for replacement lenses during cataract surgery.

“I believe it’s the best option we can offer a patient who wants to be rid of glasses,” Dr. Hall concludes. “There’s no other lens like it. I highly recommend the PanOptix lens for patients who are active or no longer want the inconvenience of glasses.”

That described Mary, who gladly accepted Dr. Hall’s recommendation and jumped at the chance to become glasses-free for the first time since she was in her mid-20s.

Delays caused by the spread of the coronavirus forced Mary to wait until May to have her surgeries. Almost a year later, she says, receiving the PanOptix lenses was worth the wait.

“They did the left eye first, and by the very next day I was already seeing 20/20 out of that eye without glasses, which is incredible,” Mary enthuses. “Then I went back and got the right eye done, and by the next day I was seeing 20/20 out of that eye, too.

“The most amazing thing to me, though, is how well I see things up close now. I was always told that my near vision could never be corrected, but I can read without glasses and I love it. The other great thing is that everything is so much brighter and colorful now.”

Since the procedures, Mary has given out the phone number for Dr. Hall and Pasadena Eye Center to many people wondering how she became glasses-free.

“I tell them, Go see Dr. Hall,” she says. “He can absolutely perform miracles for you.”

Eyes on the Road

Like Mary, Linda Parker retired early. At age 54, she became one of just 5 percent of American workers to do so before age 55. Unlike Mary, Linda never became bored with retirement.

“Oh, no. I’m not bored at all,” Linda raves. “I consider myself one of the lucky ones. My goal was always to retire by the time I was 55 so I could spend more time with my husband. Now we live in St. Pete Beach, and we love it.”

Linda and her husband came to St. Petersburg from Allentown, Pennsylvania, where Linda worked as a financial director. When her company was sold, she was offered a position by the new ownership on the West Coast but retired to Florida instead.

Now she spends most of her days relaxing, visiting friends and neighbors, and walking her dog. Retirement, Linda shares, has been everything she hoped it would be, even though COVID-19 has derailed some of her plans.

“We’re not doing some of the things that I’d like to be doing, but I’m not complaining,” she says. “I feel sorry for the people who have to go into work, so I’m hoping we get through it soon.”

Linda recently had to lean on some of those who have continued to work during the pandemic. Her eyesight, which began to fade and grew worse over the course of a year, was at the heart of the matter.

“I first noticed there was a problem in the summer of 2019,” she explains. “My husband was going through some health issues that required us to make several trips to Tampa, and I noticed then that my vision just wasn’t as good as it used to be. So, at the end of 2019, I went to an optometrist and got new glasses.”

That helped, but six months later she started having problems again, and her eyesight “got really bad” over the summer.

“My dog was having some issues at the time, and we had to take him for some tests and surgeries and whatnot,” Linda explains. “My vision was so bad that my husband had to be my eyes for me on these trips because it was like I was looking through a cloud.”

Thinking the problem was cataracts, Linda spoke with a cousin-in-law who had recently been treated for the condition. His suggestion was to visit Pasadena Eye Center.

“He had his surgery done there a couple of years ago, and there was a write-up done on him in the Florida Health Care News about it,” Linda states. “After he showed me the article, I said, I’m going to the same place. That’s how I met Dr. Hall.”

Safety First

Linda was first examined by Dr. Hall in June 2020. She had worn glasses since she was in the sixth grade. That’s why, in addition to removing the cataracts, she asked whether she could be fit with replacement lenses that made her glasses-free.

Dr. Hall determined she was a candidate for the PanOptix lenses and recommended them, considering her desire to no longer wear glasses.

Because the cataract in Linda’s left eye was more advanced, she had surgery on that eye first, in August 2020. Undergoing surgery in the middle of a pandemic created some concern for Linda, but her fears were soon alleviated.

“They were very careful,” Linda says. “They took every precaution you could think of. On the day that I went in for that first surgery, I felt very safe. They checked my temperature as soon as I walked into the building, and for the very brief time that I was in the waiting room, I was the only person in the room.

“I don’t need to wear glasses at all, not for distance, not for reading, not for anything.” – Linda

“When I went back for my surgery, I wasn’t allowed to have anyone go with me. They took me right back to my own little bed, and you could tell they had taken all the protective measures that needed to be taken, so I was not afraid at all. I felt very comfortable.

“The surgery itself, well, that was just a breeze. I was in and out of there in about an hour and a half, all time accounted for, from the time I arrived to the time I was checked out. And I walked out of there seeing better than I did when I walked in.

“They tell you that it takes a day or two for the effects of the surgery to really take, but I was seeing better than I have in years within a few hours. And I don’t need to wear glasses at all, not for distance, not for reading, not for anything.”

Like Mary, Linda says one of the best results of her cataract surgery is that it has taken away the fear she once had of driving, especially at night. She also appreciates that she sees colors more clearly and vividly and that the world seems much brighter.

“I love that I can finally buy over-the-counter sunglasses,” she adds. “I am absolutely thrilled with the results of my cataract surgery. For so long, I would sit across from someone at a table and it was as though I was looking at them through a fog. Not anymore.

“My vision is the best it’s been in years and that’s without glasses. I wholeheartedly recommend Pasadena Eye Center to anyone. And personally, I would recommend Dr. Hall. But my cousin-in-law was treated by another doctor, and he’s just as happy as I am.

“It’s a great practice, and one of the reasons for that is because they have nothing but great people there. They go out of their way to do the best they can for their patients, and I really appreciate all they did for me.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Mary’s photo courtesy of Mary Abbott. js

Build Better Bones

Specialized, once-a-week bone-building program reverses effects of osteoporosis.

Headshot and quote by Rebecca White

“I would love to see more OsteoStrong facilities open because it’s a fantastic alternative to medication.” – Rebecca

When two students from the University of Tampa earned financial backing from a “Shark Tank” investor for a scrunchie-turned-drink cover this past January, the students’ mentor, Rebecca White, celebrated along with them.

For a little more than 10 years, Rebecca has run UT’s graduate and undergraduate entrepreneurship programs. During that time, her students have launched dozens of products that are on the market, and respect for her programs has soared.

“Our entrepreneurship programs were just ranked in the top 20 in the nation by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine,” Rebecca proudly boasts. “Gaining national recognition like that is really exciting because it enhances our reputation.

“What we do is provide students with what I define as an ‘experiential education.’ They’re learning business skills, but they’re also practicing what they learn because our programs actually help students launch companies while they’re still students.”

Prior to coming to Florida 11 years ago, Rebecca ran a similar program at Northern Kentucky University. Between the two schools, she has helped “hundreds, if not thousands of students develop successful business concepts,” she says.

Recently, after being diagnosed with osteopenia, the precursor to osteoporosis, a common disease that affects bone growth, Rebecca found herself taking advantage of a business concept similar to those she helps her students launch.

“My mother had osteoporosis, and it was pretty devastating for her, so when my doctor indicated that I had early stage osteopenia, I started looking for alternatives to medication,” Rebecca reveals. “It was during my search that I found OsteoStrong.”

Risk of Bone Breaks

OsteoStrong is a revolutionary program that has helped more than 25,000 people reverse the negative effects of osteoporosis and osteopenia, potentially severe conditions that can greatly increase the risk of bone breaks.

Found most often in postmenopausal women, osteopenia and osteoporosis develop when new bone growth fails to keep pace with natural bone degeneration to the point where bone mineral density becomes dangerously low.

About 54 million Americans have osteopenia, osteoporosis or low bone mass, the latter of which also places them at increased risk for the hip, spine, wrist and other bone breaks most commonly associated with osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis can even cause some to lose height, as it can affect the bones in the spine and lead to a stooped posture. Considered a silent disease by many physicians, osteoporosis often goes undetected until a fracture occurs.

Statistics show that while one in two women will suffer from an osteoporosis-related fracture at some point, one in four men will deal with a similar incident. Those odds prompted Rebecca to check out OsteoStrong.

“Initially, I did try taking medication for my osteopenia,” Rebecca reports. “I’ve always been a runner, and I also added strength training to my workout regimen. After a few years, though, my osteopenia went from mild to moderate. That’s when I started looking for alternatives and came across the OsteoStrong concept. That was about two years ago, and at first, I was a bit skeptical because the workout is so brief. But it really works.”

Rebecca’s doubt revolved around the fact that the OsteoStrong program is designed to help people rebuild bone through brief once-a-week sessions that utilize specialized biomechanical equipment.

The equipment allows users to perform resistance-based pushing and pulling exercises with their arms or legs. During these sessions, the user can safely exert pressure four to 12 times their body weight.

Rebecca using the equipment supplid by OsteoStrong

Since starting the OsteoStrong program, Rebecca’s bone density numbers have improved significantly.”

“The difference between our equipment and that used at a traditional gym is that our equipment does not involve a counter force,” states Mark Brady, president of OsteoStrong in South Pasadena. “You create the force you are comfortable with, and you are in control of it at all times.

“There is no force pushing against you, which means you create the force. For example, on our lower body and leg machine, I’ve had women in their 80s weighing 100 pounds who can exert forces in excess of 1,000 pounds.

“For a person who weighs 100 pounds to develop new bone working out on traditional equipment, they would need to create a resistance of over 400 pounds. That simply can’t be done for 99 percent of all people in a gym environment because it involves weights that they couldn’t physically move. Or, if they could move them, they’d be at high risk of injury.”

To understand the difference, Mark invites people to come in and try the equipment, noting that his facility offers a free orientation session to experience OsteoStrong.

“This is an amazing concept that is the culmination of 12 years of research that looked into the body’s own adaptive response to growing new bone and muscle structure and improving the density of the bones we have,” Mark says.

“As a result of that research, it is now a known medical fact that when you put certain forces on the bones, the body responds by growing new bone tissue. And the results of these short sessions are absolutely amazing.”

According to Mark, studies have found that OsteoStrong improves bone density 3 to 7 percent a year. Also, people will increase their strength by an average of 73 percent over their first year at OsteoStrong.

Mark also points out that similar studies show that doing an OsteoStrong session more than once a week does not promote additional benefit. As a result, workouts are not only impactful, but time efficient.

Mark encourages men and women of all ages to accept his invitation to try the OsteoStrong equipment. He further notes it’s important to know that osteoporosis is not a disorder that is exclusive to a specific age group or gender.

“Osteoporosis is not something that only happens to old people,” he explains. “We have clients from young to old and everything in between. And men are not immune. When they start losing their testosterone, their bone loss becomes more rapid.”

In addition to helping people recover from bone loss, OsteoStrong wants to help educate them about it.

“We offer people an opportunity to learn more about osteopenia and osteoporosis and why the OsteoStrong program is so effective in fighting it,” Mark concludes.

Resistance Yields Results

Rebecca, who visits Mark’s South Pasadena location, has been doing the brief OsteoStrong sessions for a little more than two years. She says they have had a major impact on her health and well-being.

“I had a DEXA (bone density) scan a few months before I started the OsteoStrong program,” Rebecca reports. “I had another one done just recently, the first since I started the program, and it showed that my bone density numbers have improved significantly.

“I showed those results to the doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, where I’m part of the executive health program, and they were actually quite surprised. I mean, even leading-edge doctors are impressed by the results you get from this program.

“I am absolutely committed to OsteoStrong. I believe in the program so much that I’ve actually thought about funding one myself. I would love to see more OsteoStrong facilities open because it’s a fantastic alternative to medication.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photos by Jordan Pysz. mkb

Customized Solutions

Consultation, careful planning result in beaming new smile.

Meredith Holroyd and her best friend from high school annually go on a weeklong getaway to Murrells Inlet, just south of Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. It has become such a staple in their lives that they even made the trek last year as the COVID-19 pandemic raged.

Meredith Holroyd

The trip is on again this year, but Meredith plans to extend her stay and spend a couple of weeks seeing other parts of the Atlantic Coast with her husband. She has time to do that now that she’s retired.

“I just retired in February,” Meredith, 64, says enthusiastically. “I spent the last 10 years working as a customer service rep for HSN but was let go last June. When I didn’t find anything that really interested me, my husband and I talked and decided I should just retire.

“I’m really excited about retirement. I’m not counting out getting a part-time job at some point just to stay busy, but for now I’ve got that trip planned with my friend. Then my husband and I are going to take some time for ourselves, so we’ll just see where it goes.”

Prior to HSN, Meredith worked in sales and real estate after spending time as a dental assistant. The latter was a job borne largely out of her experience with a disease called opalescent dentin, which leaves teeth discolored and weak.

“It’s a hereditary disease, and because of that I had my first abscess when I was just 2 years old,” Meredith reveals. “Then, when I was 17, my teeth just started abscessing one after another, and I eventually had all my teeth crowned.

“The dentist who did the crowns was just awesome. I became a dental technician because of him, and those crowns lasted a long time. I took really good care of them. As I got older, though, the crowns got older and some of them just started snapping off.”

Because of their decaying nature, at least four of the teeth beneath those failing crowns had to be pulled. To replace those teeth, Meredith was fit about 15 years ago with four dental implants, two on her top arch and two on the bottom.

The Implant Advantage

Dental implants are screw-like posts made of a titanium alloy that are placed in the jaw, where they fuse with the bone. Once the fusion process is complete, the implant supports an abutment upon which a crown is placed to complete the replacement tooth.

Unlike real teeth, implants don’t decay, so they can last a lifetime in some patients. That proved advantageous for Meredith, whose remaining teeth continued to decay to a point where she was recently left with no choice but to find a fix for the problem.

“I had already lost some of my back teeth, which made it hard to chew properly,” Meredith explains. “Then the crowns on a couple of teeth in the front snapped off. It was an awful situation, really emotional because I was embarrassed to smile.

“I wasn’t ready financially or emotionally to tackle this problem when it first came about. Then finally, about a year ago, I decided I was ready to get this taken care of and made an appointment to see someone about it.”

The dentist Meredith visited is David Sherberg, DMD, FAGD, of Bayway Dental in St. Petersburg. As he does with all patients, Dr. Sherberg began his care for Meredith by conducting a thorough oral examination.

“She had already lost some teeth and had cavities in most of the remaining ones,” Dr. Sherberg reports. “She also had some cosmetic issues. Her upper front teeth, for example, were too flared out. The good news was that her existing four implants were working. That’s a good sign, because she was interested in an implant option. She didn’t want a traditional denture, but cost was a concern, so I had to get creative.”

Dr. Sherberg used three of the existing implants as the foundation for a complete restoration. He removed the failing teeth and replaced them with dentures secured by the existing implants and six new implants.

Dr. Sherberg spent significant time consulting with Meredith before developing a personalized solution for her. His goal is to get to know each “patient as a person.”

“I need to take everything about that person into account, including their goals and their financial situation,” he states. “That’s how you come to the best possible conclusion. We have more of a boutique service that’s customized to each individual. It’s not a matter of everybody gets this product or that product. We figure out what’s best for each person.”

Safe and Sound

Meredith’s treatment began in January 2020, just before the COVID-19 outbreak, with the extraction of all her failing teeth. Though some of the work was done while the pandemic was raging, she says she always felt safe in Dr. Sherberg’s office.

“It was a year long process, so I visited Dr. Sherberg on a number of occasions during COVID-19 and I always felt very safe there,” Meredith confirms. “He did a great job of following all the guidelines and protocols.”

While Meredith healed from the extractions, she wore a traditional denture. After her gums healed, she was fit with the new implants, four on the top arch and two on the bottom.

Implants need about four to six months to fuse with the jaw bone, so during that period, Meredith continued to wear a traditional denture. Due in part to COVID-related delays she finally received her permanent fixed denture in November 2020.

“We have an Immediate Teeth option, where we fit the patient with implants and a temporary fixed denture right away,” Dr. Sherberg informs. “But that option wasn’t in Meredith’s budget so we went a different route with her. Yes, it took a little longer, but the result was the same. She now has a functionally sound, aesthetically pleasing smile, and it’s because we worked together within her budget to create the best possible solution.”

Meredith says the result was worth the wait. For the first time in years, she’s getting the proper function she’d long been missing from her teeth, and she’s confident about her smile again. It’s why she raves about Dr. Sherberg and his work.

“Dr. Sherberg is just amazing,” Meredith exudes. “He’s so smart, so focused and so positive. I visited three other dentists before I chose him, and I did so because I trust him and because I feel safe with him. He’s exceptional.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photo by Jordan Pysz. Before and after images courtesy of Bayway Dental. js

 

Laugh Out Loud

A beautiful, functionally sound smile is your best accessory.

A recent 15-year study conducted by Norwegian scientists showed that people who enjoy a couple of hearty laughs each day tend to live longer than those who don’t. Lucille Klein believes there’s a lot of truth in those findings.

Lucille headshot

Lucille’s new smile provides the improved function she was lacking.

Lucille will turn 88 this year. Laughter, she says, is what keeps her going.

“My Fountain of Youth,” Lucille exclaims. “I can find a laugh in just about anything. Sometimes that gets me into trouble. But I definitely believe in the power of laughter. It’s very strong medicine.”

Laughter isn’t the only thing keeping Lucille young. She also has a strong thirst for knowledge — so much that she recently started taking classes at Indian River State College.

“They have a senior citizen program there, and I love history,” Lucille explains. “I have a girlfriend who likes history, too, so we signed up for some history classes. One of the classes we took was all about the Napoleonic Wars. It was fascinating.”

Lucille recently feared she might need to fight a war all her own after learning the enamel on her upper two front teeth was thinning. The fear of one breaking at an inopportune time spurred her into action.

“I was planning to take a trip to California to visit my sister and thought, What if one of those teeth breaks when I’m visiting her,” Lucille relates. “I would not be very happy if that happened, so I went to see Dr. Blank.”

Stephen Blank, DDS, practices cosmetic and functional dentistry in Port St. Lucie, and Lucille has been his patient for about four years. During that time, Dr. Blank has completely restored her smile.

All the Way to the Blank

“Lucille came to me with concerns about some teeth on the upper right,” Dr. Blank confirms. “She had some teeth that were chipped there, and she had a filling that needed to be replaced on the upper left. We took care of that, but it was evident that her smile was wearing out.”

Dr. Blank recalls that Lucille had some of the old, porcelain, metal-style crowns that get dark at the gum line as the gums recede and the edges of the crown become exposed.”

Dr. Blank discovered those issues during a thorough 90-minute introductory oral examination that included TMJ, bite and soft-tissue evaluations, computerized periodontal measurements, digital x-rays and an oral hygiene evaluation.

That initial exam, which Dr. Blank conducts for all new patients, is designed to determine the patient’s dental needs. It includes an intraoral video tour that allows the patient to see what the dentist sees.
“The goal is to build a solid dental relationship that allows each patient to achieve the best oral health possible,” Dr. Blank explains. “And with proper care, our goal is to maintain that level of health for a lifetime.”

Lucille is a perfect example of how effectively Dr. Blank’s system works. After first correcting the issues that needed immediate attention, he turned to correcting those that could lead to greater problems down the road.

The thinning enamel on her two front teeth was one such problem. Aging crowns on the other teeth in her smile line were, too. Another issue was the color of the crowns didn’t match, although Lucille wasn’t as concerned about that.

“Not everybody comes in wanting a super bright smile,” Dr. Blank relays. “Some people are functionally driven rather than cosmetically driven. That’s how Lucille was when she came in. She wanted to be able to eat properly and not have any problems with her teeth.

“She wasn’t looking to be in a beauty contest or to be on TV, so any cosmetic benefits were secondary. We put together a treatment plan that was functionally driven and cosmetically finished. That way, she got the best of both worlds.

“And that’s something we can do for anyone. No matter their age. The most important thing is having a good foundation underneath, and Lucille understands that. But we can make sure anyone has that healthy foundation and make their teeth look great, too.”

Crown Achievements

To achieve that objective with Lucille, Dr. Blank put together a smile design plan that called for him to replace the aging crowns on the teeth in her upper smile line with new crowns that perfectly matched her other teeth.

To improve the function and look of Lucille’s two front teeth, Dr. Blank removed the bonded fillings that had been used to repair them previously and fit her with new crowns that matched the other crowns in her smile line.

“She now has all ceramic crowns, so there’s no metal and no dark edges at all in her smile line,” Dr. Blank reports. “Her teeth are functionally strong, her gum contour and health are excellent, and her teeth look great.”

“Dr. Blank did a great job with my teeth. They are beautiful and look like my real teeth.” – Lucille

Dr. Blank began restoring Lucille’s smile line in October as the coronavirus pandemic was raging. He completed the work a couple of months later. Throughout the process, Lucille never feared contracting the virus through her dental visits.

“Dr. Blank’s office is impeccably clean,” she raves. “They have hand disinfectant, everybody wears their masks all the time, and while I waited in the lobby, I was the only person waiting. So I felt very safe.

“And of course, Dr. Blank did a great job with my teeth. They are beautiful and look like my real teeth. The best thing is that I can eat with confidence again now that I know nothing is going to happen to them.

“I’m very thankful for Dr. Blank and his work. I think the world of him, and his staff is great, too. Dr. Blank has been my dentist for about three or four years now, and he’s become my buddy because he likes to laugh, too.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photo by Jordan Pysz. Before image courtesy of Stephen Blank, DDS. mkb

The New Class

Here’s the latest option in multifocal intraocular replacement lenses.

Arvid at his computer

Arvid recently became one of the first cataract patients to be fitted with the new Vivity replacement lens

When Arvid Olson’s first two semesters of college left him with a grade-point average that only Animal House’s “Bluto” Blutarsky would celebrate, his father pulled the plug on funding and issued an ultimatum:

“He said you can either join the military or get a job,” Arvid remembers.

Arvid chose the former. Sort of. He joined the Army Reserve. He learned quickly, though, that he also wasn’t yet cut out for military life. So, he returned to school, and his GPA suddenly shot up from 0.8 to 3.8.

Armed with the necessary grades, Arvid eventually chose to follow in his father’s footsteps and went to dental school. Following graduation, Arvid specialized in endodontics for seven years. Then, at age 36, he decided military life might not be so bad.

“I was still in the inactive reserves, and in 1980, the Army was desperate for dentists,” he explains. “I went back in and stayed for 12 years before returning to private practice. That was all due to my father and his good guidance.”

Years later, Arvid found himself in need of guidance from another source. This time, his eye doctor steered him in the right direction after he discovered cataracts were developing rapidly in his eyes.

Cataracts are a natural result of a breakdown of the eye’s lens fibers and/or clumping of the eye’s proteins. They usually result in blurred vision, an increase in the eye’s sensitivity to light, or a reduction in the vibrancy of colors.

“My eyesight was still pretty good, but the eye doctor told me my cataracts were between stages three and four in terms of their development,” explains Arvid, 77. “That meant that in the next six months, things could go really bad if I didn’t have surgery.”

When Arvid asked his eye doctor for a recommendation regarding an ophthalmologist who could perform the surgery, he was given the name of Alexandra Kostick, MD, FACS, FRCSC, of Atlantic Eye Center in Palm Coast. The name was familiar to him.

“My wife and I have a good friend who recently had cataract surgery,” Arvid relates. “His surgery was done by Dr. Kostick, and he had nothing but great things to say about her, so I followed up with her.”

A Common Procedure

Recognized as one of the most accomplished surgeons in the field, Dr. Kostick verified Arvid’s development of cataracts and recommended surgery. Thankfully, cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures in medicine.

With more than 4 million such procedures each year in the US, cataract surgery is typically performed on one eye at a time in an outpatient setting, with a week or two in between.

During each procedure, the eye’s clouded natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens, or IOL. IOLs are made of acrylic or silicone and coated with special material to protect the eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

Like contact lenses, IOLs are available in various focusing powers. Standard IOLs typically correct distance vision, while multifocal IOLs can correct distance and near vision in much the same way that bifocal glasses or contact lenses do.

The most advanced IOL yet is a trifocal lens called the PanOptix® that corrects distance, intermediate and near vision. The PanOptix lens has become Dr. Kostick’s “IOL of choice” for patients wanting a multifocal lens, but not all patients are candidates for the PanOptix.

“People who have had macular degeneration or retina problems or had a preexisting refractive surgery such as LASIK or PRK are not candidates for the PanOptix,” Dr. Kostick confirms. “In terms of getting a multifocal IOL, they’ve been out of luck.”

Until now.

Recently approved by the FDA, the Alcon AcrySof® IQ Vivity® IOL is designed to provide crisp, clear distance and intermediate vision as well as functional up-close or reading vision in patients who are not candidates for the PanOptix.

The Vivity IOL is so new that at the time of Arvid’s surgery, the lens was not available to ophthalmologists in all markets. Dr. Kostick is the first ophthalmologist in Flagler county and the Coastal Volusia area to implant the Vivity lens in a patient.

“I’m very pleased with the outcome of my surgery. Except for seeing really fine print, I don’t need to use my reading glasses at all.” – Arvid

“I’m very fortunate to once again be on the leading edge of technology,” says Dr. Kostick, who was also the first in her area to implant the PanOptix. “This Vivity lens is opening up a whole new world of possibilities for a lot of patients.”

In terms of how it improves a patient’s vision, the biggest difference between the PanOptix and Vivity is that the Vivity does not provide the same sharp near or reading vision that the PanOptix does.

“But it does offer some up-close vision,” Dr. Kostick clarifies. “Patients receiving the Vivity lens may still want to wear some weak Plus-1 cheaters for reading, but they will gain some new ability to see up close, whereas before they were getting none.”

The likelihood of needing to wear reading glasses didn’t bother Arvid. He has been wearing reading glasses for years and is accustomed to them, so he didn’t flinch a bit when Dr. Kostick suggested the Vivity lens would be his best option.

“He had a little wrinkle, something we call an epiretinal membrane, in the back of his left eye,” Dr. Kostick reports. “Because of that, he wasn’t a candidate for the PanOptix lens. But he’s doing really well with both his distance and near vision with the Vivity lens.”

Better Than Expected

It’s not only Arvid’s distance and intermediate vision that have improved since he was fit with Vivity IOLs. In addition to now having what he calls “super” distance and intermediate vision, Arvid’s reading vision has improved markedly as well.

“I’m very pleased with the outcome of my surgery,” Arvid exudes. “Except for seeing really fine print, I don’t need to use my reading glasses at all. These lenses are working even better than Dr. Kostick thought they would.

“My vision is much clearer, and everything is much brighter. I’m very impressed with the results, and I want to add that I was very impressed with Dr. Kostick and all her technicians. Everyone is very thorough, and they treat you like you’re a member of the family.”

A family-like atmosphere is what Dr. Kostick strives for at Atlantic Eye Center. She is proud to be treating patients’ spouses, children and grandchildren.

“Our patients become part of our extended family,” Dr. Kostick asserts. “We strive to make them comfortable by creating a very caring environment. They know they are going to be treated with a personal touch whenever they come here.”

A strong reputation in the community is also something the Atlantic Eye Center staff strives to maintain.

“I think word of mouth is very important for doctors, and we pride ourselves on the referrals we get,” Dr. Kostick adds. “I can honestly say that my staff members go out of their way to ensure that people are cared for to our utmost capability.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photo by Jordan Pysz. mkb

Say No Thanks to Surgery

Pain-free decompression therapy relieves neck, lower back pain.

Since she married her husband more than 50 years ago, Amanda “Mandy” Dandy has had the pleasure of calling many places home, including Liberia, Belgium, Canada and a British merchant vessel called the London Citizen.

Amanada playing the piano

Amanda “Mandy” Dandy

“Yes, we’ve lived all over the place,” the 75-year-old native of Hampshire, England, says. “That’s because my husband worked as an engineer evaluating damaged ships for an offshoot of Lloyd’s of London. His work took us all over the world.

“When we lived onboard the merchant ship, that was just after we were married in 1966. We did that for about a year, then went to Liberia. When we finished there we actually lived on a sailboat for about a year while we sailed back and forth to England.”

They met while Mandy’s family was vacationing in her husband’s hometown of Cornwall, England. After years of touring the globe, they finally settled down in Florida in 1985 following Mandy’s retirement from her career as a teacher.

The couple came to Florida from New York, where Mandy also dabbled in real estate. Since their arrival, Mandy has devoted a good deal of time to chronicling her life of adventure for a self-published work intended mostly for family and friends.

The latest chapter of her memoir details some tales of woe related to an exasperating neck problem. Mandy has wrestled with the issue for several years, but this year it intensified to a point where it became downright debilitating.

“This terrible neck pain became so great that I couldn’t move my head to the right or left very easily,” Mandy explains. “And if I tried to do some work on the computer or even just play the piano, it would get worse.

“It hurt even if I tried to sing and caused me to get these terrible headaches. It interrupted my sleep as well. I’ve been to a number of doctors, but no matter who I went to, no one was able to help me. I’ve been getting treatment for a lower back problem from a chiropractor for about 30 years, and he actually stopped trying to treat my neck a couple of years ago because nothing he did made it any better. It was quite exhausting.”

Mandy wasn’t the only family member suffering. Her husband recently underwent back surgery that didn’t completely alleviate his pain. To get some relief, Mandy suggested he visit a practice she read about in Florida Health Care News.

That practice is St. Augustine Spine Center, where the most advanced nonsurgical, drug-free procedures are used to help patients with severe and chronic back pain, neck pain and peripheral neuropathy return to a pain-free, active lifestyle.

This past April, while visiting the practice with her husband, Mandy mentioned her neck pain to one of the doctors, Tyler Albrecht, DC. After examining Mandy’s MRI, Dr. Albrecht recommended she try a course of spinal decompression.

Time to Decompress

Spinal decompression is a pain-free, FDA-cleared treatment that helps restore herniated or bulging discs to a healthier state, thus relieving pain. The procedure reverses the pressure on the injured discs. That allows them to heal, which is better than simply masking the pain through injections or medications.

“Spinal decompression is performed while the patient lies on a specialized table that gently pulls on the two vertebrae on either side of the affected disc, producing a vacuum effect,” Dr. Albrecht informs. “This allows bulging material and nutrients to be drawn back into the disc over time, which lets it rehydrate and heal naturally.

“Advanced technology and computerized load sensors combine to create a gentle, pain-free treatment that avoids the muscle spasm or guarding reflex that is commonly triggered with traditional rudimentary traction or inversion devices.”

“I was thrilled at how well the treatment worked for me.” – Mandy

Patients in St. Augustine Spine Center’s spinal decompression program are typically treated three times a week for about seven weeks. Each decompression treatment lasts about 30 minutes.

For most patients, treatments are combined with other modalities, including manual therapy, rehabilitative exercise, chiropractic care, ice, electrical stimulation and laser therapy, all of which help to speed up the healing process.

Prior to beginning a course of spinal decompression, patients are evaluated thoroughly to determine if the therapy is right for them. In Mandy’s case, that evaluation included a detailed review of an existing MRI of her neck.

From the images, Dr. Albrecht concluded Mandy had been suffering from arthritis and a series of bulging discs in her neck that were causing stenosis, a narrowing of the spaces within the spine that can create pressure on the nerves.

“Some of her symptoms were actually quite common for people we treat with neck pain,” Dr. Albrecht reports. “She said that her head sometimes felt like it was too heavy for her neck and that she felt like she had to hold it up with her hands to keep it from pushing down on her neck too hard.

“She was also having a hard time sleeping because of the pain. She was only getting three or four hours of sleep each night, so she was taking gabapentin to ease her pain, but even with the gabapentin, she was still waking up in pain five to seven times a night. So, I recommended the decompression treatments to try to help provide some relief.”

Prior to beginning spinal decompression treatments, Dr. Albrecht asks each patient to complete a survey detailing the ways their neck or back pain interferes with their daily lives. From that survey, he develops a pain and disability index; the higher the score the more the patient’s life is disrupted by pain.

When Mandy completed her initial survey, her pain and disability index was 35 percent. In addition, she rated her pain as going up to seven or eight on a scale of one to 10. Within a couple of weeks of beginning decompression treatment, however, Mandy began to feel better and her pain scores began to drop.

“Incredible” Results

“The treatments are actually very restful because you simply lie down on a table and the computer does all the work,” Mandy says. “The computer actually increases the pull on you as you go, but it’s done so subtly that you can’t even tell it’s happening.

“As for my response, it was almost immediate. I felt a loosening in my neck that gave me more mobility almost right away. I was still getting occasional headaches at first and my shoulders were still a bit stiff, but after about two weeks all that became much better.”

Dr. Albrecht repeats the pain and disability survey midway through the program and again at the end to ensure the patient is receiving the desired relief. In Mandy’s case, the scores dropped significantly throughout the course of treatment.

“By the time she was done, her pain and disability index was down to 6 percent,” Dr. Albrecht reports. “Not only that, but her pain level went down to zero.

“Her only remaining symptom was some occasional stiffness in the morning, but that usually went away after 10 or 15 minutes. Other than that, she was pain-free the rest of the day. And because the pain was no longer interrupting her sleep, she was able to stop taking the gabapentin, so she responded very well to the treatment.”

Mandy’s response was aided by some light neck and shoulder exercises and a stretching routine that Dr. Albrecht recommended. She said she continues to do those exercises to ensure she enjoys
long-lasting relief.

“They also treated me with an electrical stimulation machine that they placed on my back, neck and shoulder area, and that helped a lot, too,” she adds. “The bottom line is, I’m feeling much better now and sleeping much better.

“When I wake up in the morning now I feel very relaxed, which is incredible to me because I didn’t think there was anybody who could help me with this problem. I feel very fortunate that I was able to find Dr. Albrecht and St. Augustine Spine Center.”

Fixing a Hole

Mary at her desk reading

Mary Lurry

In the competition to draw students to its graduate programs, a small fine arts school such as the Maryland Institute College of Arts can get lost in the shuffle among better-known schools such as Yale, Cornell and Columbia.

That’s why the college turned to Mary Lurry for help.

Mary helps small and large universities build highly specialized graduate programs so they’re not only competitive within the marketplace, but also attractive to students seeking degrees in their specialties.

“Let’s say we have a school that wants to build a graduate program in computer science,” Mary explains. “There are a lot of universities with very highly ranked programs, but there may be something
that most of those programs are missing.

“It’s my job to explain how schools can fill that void. Either that, or we’ll explain that to succeed they need to build a program that includes courses like software development and artificial intelligence, because all good graduate programs have those now.”

One of the benefits of Mary’s job is that, thanks to advances in communication technology, it can be done remotely. That allows this 58-year-old Oklahoma resident to spend part of the year in Florida, where she and her husband have a vacation home.

It was earlier this year, during her most recent visit to the Sunshine State, that Mary decided yet again to look for help in alleviating an aggravating lower back problem that had been irritating her for
more than 20 years.

“I attribute the problem to years of having to carry around heavy boxes of marketing materials all the time,” she says. “I used to travel a lot for my job, both by car and plane, and I think all that sitting for long hours may have contributed to the problem.

“I’m actually semi-retired now, and I thought that once I got off the road I’d start to feel better. Instead, my back problems just got worse, to the point where it was affecting the way I walked, the way I exercised, even the way I slept.

“The pain was so bad that it would wake me up at night, so I started taking nighttime medication about five years ago. I was taking that along with a sleeping aid, which probably wasn’t smart, but it was the only way I could get a few hours of sleep.”

Eager to break that pattern and frustrated that neither standard chiropractic care, steroid injections nor acupuncture had eased her pain, she went in search of a new remedy.

She found what she was looking for at St. Augustine Spine Center.

“I read a bunch of testimonials and watched a video they have about spinal decompression,” Mary says. “I thought to myself, This looks like something more than what I’ve pursued before, so I decided to give it a try.”

Life-Changing Results

Mary soon found herself under the care of Dr. Albrecht, who recommended Mary obtain an MRI of her back to determine the cause of her pain.

“The MRI showed that Mary had several bulging discs and arthritis in her lower back that caused spinal stenosis,” Dr. Albrecht reports. “That put pressure on the nerves, which was the reason for her pain and discomfort. Because she had already tried several other treatments that hadn’t worked for her, we recommended our spinal decompression program.”

Just as Mandy did, Mary went through a typical course of spinal decompression treatments, meaning she was treated three times a week for seven weeks. She describes those treatments as life-altering.

“When I first went to St. Augustine Spine Center, my pain level was probably an eight or nine on a scale of one to 10,” Mary says. “And I have a high tolerance for pain. It hurt so bad that I couldn’t even lift my leg to put on a pair of pants.

“Spinal decompression changed my life” – Mary

“But by the time I was done with my treatments, my pain level was hovering around a two, and that was only because of an unrelated hip muscle problem I’ve had for ages. Other than that, I felt great. And I still do.

“They measure your pain at the beginning of the treatments and then again in the middle and at the end, and my pain steadily decreased as I went through the program, which changed my life. That’s what I tell people because spinal decompression has allowed me to get more rest and feel more relaxed.

“I don’t take any medication for my pain at night anymore, and I’m very happy about that. And I’m happy that I can exercise again. I have a Pilates reformer that I had to give up for a while, but I’m slowly getting back to that.

“I can walk and bend like normal again, and I can’t tell you how nice that feels. It seems like a simple thing, but when you can’t do little things like that without feeling pain you gain a greater appreciation for them. That’s what’s happened with me.

“Spinal decompression changed my life, so I really could not be happier with the care I received from Dr. Albrecht and the staff at St. Augustine Spine Center. I definitely recommend them to anyone struggling with back pain the way I was.”

Mandy’s praise for Dr. Albrecht, his staff and the positive effect spinal decompression made in her life is on a par with Mary’s. She says she doubts she’d be enjoying life as much as she is now had she not discovered St. Augustine Spine Center.

“Dr. Albrecht and his team are just wonderful to work with,” Mandy raves. “One of the things that sets them apart from everyone else is the detail they go into when they first evaluate you.

“You can measure someone’s pain on a scale of one to 10, but what they do is more scientific. It’s really amazing, and I was thrilled at how well the treatment worked for me, which is why I’ve already recommended them to several of my friends.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photos by Jordan Pysz. Spine graphic courtesy of St. Augustine Spine Center. js

Staying A Step Ahead

Toenail fungus caught early, treated with painless, in-office laser.

On the February day that Super Bowl LV was played in balmy Tampa, the high temperature in Chicago was 7. That’s why Ted Harris, a developer and home builder, moved from the Windy City to Sarasota a couple of years ago. That, and the fact there isn’t a lot of land to develop in Chicago.

Ted standing in a field with palm trees behind him.

Ted Harris

Ted loves that he can comfortably walk the beach most any day of the year in a T-shirt and shorts.

“I started coming to Sarasota about five years ago, and now it’s become my new home,” Ted, 57, explains. “I love the weather here. You can’t beat it. Plus, I’m getting the chance to build some pretty cool homes, so I’m really enjoying it here.”

Ted’s experiences in Florida haven’t all been enjoyable. A couple of years ago, while on holiday, he spent a lot more time walking on the beach than he typically does and developed a condition called runner’s toenail.

Caused by the repeated pounding and stress that comes with running, jogging or sometimes even walking, the condition results in blood from broken blood vessels collecting underneath the nail, which then becomes dark and discolored.

Both of Ted’s big toenails eventually fell off from the condition. As they grew back, a dark streak developed along the right side of Ted’s right big toenail. Thinking it might be toenail fungus, he called Dawn Chiu, DPM, AACFAS, at Sarasota Foot and Ankle Center.

“I wanted to nip the problem in the bud right away, and sure enough, just as I thought, Dr. Chiu diagnosed it as toenail fungus,” Ted says. “When I told her I really didn’t want to do any oral treatments for it, she recommended a laser treatment.”

The laser treatment Dr. Chiu recommended is PinPointe FootLaser® therapy. Dr. Chiu calls it her “weapon of choice” against toenail fungus because it kills the underlying fungus without side effects and does not require patients to take a blood test prior to treatment.

“It’s an in-office treatment that lasts only a few minutes,” Dr. Chiu explains. “During that time, I pass the laser over the nail in a crisscross pattern to ensure full coverage. Patients usually feel warmth on their toe during the treatment, but there’s no pain.”

Once the treatment is completed, patients can resume normal activities. When combined with topical ointments, the laser treatment has an 80 percent success rate, according to Dr. Chiu, who counts Ted among her success stories.

“Dr. Chiu said I caught the fungus early, and because of that, she only had to do one treatment with the laser,” Ted remarks. “By the time I went back for my follow-up visit, the fungus was already going away. Now my nails are back, and they look normal again.

“It was a very simple, painless treatment, and I was really impressed with Dr. Chiu and her staff. Everyone there is very friendly and helpful, and I had a good experience. If I ever have this problem again, I know exactly where to go for help. I’ll go to Dr. Chiu.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photo by Jordan Pysz. Before and after images courtesy of Sarasota Foot and Ankle Center. js

 

Combating the Opioid Epidemic

Clinical trials available to research alternatives to deadly painkillers.

Long before COVID-19 became the world’s greatest health concern, a crisis that health experts have blamed for nearly a million deaths this century was already raging:

The opioid epidemic.

In 2019, when the US reported an all-time high of nearly 72,000 deaths due to drug overdoses, more than two-thirds of those deaths involved opioids, a class of drug that includes legally prescribed pain relievers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.

The advent of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 exacerbated the problem. With access to counseling and support limited, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that opioid overdoses are claiming more than 90 American lives each day.

With millions suffering from opioid-use disorders each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers to do more to prevent the opioid epidemic from spreading. Private practices can do more, too.

One that has taken up that gauntlet is Jax Spine & Pain Centers, which specializes in progressive interventional treatment options to address chronic joint, neck and back pain.

As part of its quest to help combat the use and overuse of opioids, Jax Spine & Pain Centers is conducting clinical research trials aimed at determining the efficacy of three advanced treatments for back pain experienced before and after surgery.

The goal is to find new and better treatments for diseases and other health conditions.

A ‘Gold Standard’

It’s rare for a private practice to delve deeply into clinical research, but Jax Spine & Pain Centers is not your typical private practice.

In addition to its medical staff, which includes seven physicians specializing in pain management, Jax Spine & Pain Centers employs its own clinical research director, Amanda Doris, to oversee its extensive involvement in clinical trials.

Amanda Headshot

Amanda joined Jax Spine & Pain enters largely because of its dedication to clinical research.

“Some practices are only concerned with the bottom line,” says Nicholas Bremer, MD. “That’s not the case here at Jax Spine & Pain Centers. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I joined the group. The focus of the senior partners is not to go through as many patients as we possibly can each day. Our focus is on doing the right thing for everybody, on maintaining a gold standard of care. Conducting
clinical research is part of that.

“Though we are not in an academic setting, we believe strongly in clinical research, in conducting clinical research in-house and being a part of those efforts to find the best solutions possible for patients everywhere.”

Like Dr. Bremer, Amanda joined Jax Spine & Pain Centers largely because of its dedication to clinical research. It’s a field she has been involved in her entire career, and she assures that Jax Spine & Pain Centers will be involved in more trials down the road.

For now, though, the practice is focused on finding better solutions for chronic back pain. They are looking for patients to participate in trials involving treatment devices that have been in use for several years.

The Stimulator Study

One of those devices is a spinal cord stimulator. Powered by a small battery that is implanted under the skin near the patient’s hip, a spinal cord stimulator is a small device that alters pain signals running to the brain.

The technology is not new. It was developed more than 30 years ago. Back then, the devices were created in a way that allowed pain signals to be replaced with a tingling sensation
called a paresthesia.

The latest models work the same way, but advanced technology allows for pain to be replaced with no sensation at all. The Jax Spine & Pain Centers study centers around one of the new stimulation waveforms.

“A lot of different types of stimulation have been developed just in the past five years, such as high-frequency stimulation and burst stimulation, where the stimulation is delivered in groups of pulses,” explains Michael Hanes, MD, of Jax Spine & Pain Centers.

Dr. hanes in a surgical room

“We’re doing this not just for our own patients, but for all patients everywhere who are suffering from pain.” – Dr. Hanes

“This trial is looking at the efficacy of one of those new waveforms, something called differential target multiplexed stimulation. It specifically targets the glial cells in the spinal cord, which we know are involved in the pain pathways. The thought is, if you can target those glial cells, you can modulate the way pain signals get sent to the brain. What we’re trying to determine is whether this technology is as good as the other waveforms.”

The spinal cord stimulator trial is a two-year study. It’s open to patients who have access to a smartphone and/or computer, are 18 or older, and have either been fit with a spinal cord stimulator previously or are receiving one for the first time.

“For patients who already have a spinal cord stimulator, anyone getting reported relief of 80 percent or greater is not eligible for the trial,” Amanda notes. “The trial is also not open to women who are pregnant or nursing.”

During the two-year study, data will be collected every month through a questionnaire that can be filled out online by the patient. Patients will also be asked to visit Jax Pain & Spine Centers three, six, 12, and 24 months post-implant for a personal evaluation.

“It’ll be just like a regular visit with the doctor, but I’ll come in with representatives of the company that makes the device and ask some additional questions to make sure their programming is beneficial and to their liking,” Amanda notes.

New patients who agree to participate in, and are ultimately selected for the spinal cord stimulation trial, will begin the trial by going through a three- to seven-day testing period to determine if the stimulator will have the desired effect.

If the patient experiences a significant reduction in pain during the testing period, the stimulator will be implanted permanently.

That process is done in a doctor’s office, where leads or electrodes are threaded through an epidural needle. The top of the electrode is fed into the epidural space of the spine, inside of the spinal canal but outside of the spinal cord. The bottom of the electrode is attached to a battery that sits on top of the skin during the trial.

In its quest to provide patients everywhere with the best possible solutions for their pain, the staff at Jax Spine & Pain Centers has made a commitment to conducting clinical research in-house.

The battery, which is about the size of a half-dollar, creates the impulses that block the pain signals. About 90 percent of patients going through the testing period receive enough relief to have the stimulator implanted permanently.

That permanent implant procedure is similar to the one performed for the trial, except that it is done at a hospital or surgery center.

The Spacer Study

The other two studies are designed to determine the efficacy of a small titanium spacing device that is frequently used in the treatment of mild to moderate lumbar stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spaces in the spine.

This narrowing leads to pain.

The spacing device is called the Superion®, and it’s implanted between the narrowing or compressed vertebrae. Once the Superion has been inserted, two “arms” are opened to lock it in place between the spinous processes.

One of the two Superion spacer studies is a five-year review for patients 45 and older that is called SCOPE. The other is a three-year program for patients 21 and older called PRESS2.

“The second study broadens our patient population a bit,” Amanda adds. “In both studies, the purpose is to compile real-world outcomes of the Superion in routine clinical practice. As it is with the spinal cord stimulator, we’re using a device that is already available to the population. It’s already market-approved, so our goal is to further advance the research and produce as much information as we can regarding its efficacy.”

Patients in the Superion spacer studies will be fit with the device during an hourlong implantation procedure that is typically done under twilight sedation in an outpatient surgery center so that no hospital stay is required.Superion® InterSpinous Spacer (Vertiflex)

The procedure begins with the physician making a small incision, about an inch long, in the lower back. The physician then inserts a small dilator or tube through which the spacer is deployed. Once deployed, the spacer is locked into place.

After receiving the spacer, patients will be evaluated in person at Jax Spine & Pain Centers every six months for the first year and once a year for the final four years for those in the five-year study.

“During those visits, the investigators will also perform a neurological exam just to make sure the patient is able to perform regular movements with the device,” Amanda notes. “And if for any reason the patient feels the device isn’t working, it can be removed.

“I also want to note that patients in both trials will be compensated for the screening visit and each follow up visit. In addition, the study sponsor will cover the entire cost of the device. Everything else will be going through insurance. There is also some exclusionary criteria for both studies.”

For the SCOPE study, the exclusionary criteria includes prior lumbar surgery, fusion or decompression treatment or a body mass index greater than 40. Also, anyone who has a history of substance abuse or substance-use disorder in the past five years would not be eligible.

“Others who are not eligible are people who have heart disease, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, lumbar scoliosis and peripheral neuropathy, and anyone who is on workers’ compensation,”
Amanda details.

The main exclusion for the PRESS2 study is any prior decompression or lumbar surgery, which means anyone who has had kyphoplasty, some kind of minimally invasive decompression therapy or anything at the fusion level. In addition, anyone who has severe osteoporosis or lumbar scoliosis is not eligible.

Most of the patients selected for the trials will be referred by their doctors, but others can get information regarding eligibility by calling Jax Spine & Pain Centers or emailing Amanda at
amandad@jaxspine.com.

More To Come

Jax Spine & Pain Centers is also planning another trial for back pain therapy. Unlike the other three trials, this study will gauge the effectiveness of a new treatment.

Dr. Bremer headshot

Our focus is on doing the right thing for everybody, on maintaining a gold standard of care. Conducting clinical research is part of that. – Dr. Bremer

“There’s a new therapy called minimally invasive spinal fusion,” Dr. Hanes explains. “The device that’s used in this treatment is called the ZIP Ultra™. It’s made by a company called Aurora and it changes the way we do spinal fusion surgery.

“Previously, a spinal fusion was a huge surgery where the physician goes into the back and places rods and screws. With this new device, the physician goes in through a small incision and just slides the device between two of the bones in the spine, and it clamps on.”

Dr. Hanes says surgery using the ZIP Ultra is designed to provide patients with the same benefits as the more invasive, traditional spinal fusion surgery, with less trauma to the body.

Details regarding eligibility and exclusions for the ZIP Ultra trial are still being formulated, so it’s not yet certain when the practice will begin the trial. Dr. Hanes says he’s looking forward to obtaining results for its efficacy.

“As physicians, one thing we always want to do is stay current with the newest and best technologies and therapies available,” he concludes. “That’s a passion of mine and Dr. Bremer’s and everyone here at Jax Spine & Pain Centers.

“We look forward to doing the research in our field that results in better patient care and better patient outcomes. And we’re doing this not just for our own patients, but for all patients everywhere who are suffering from pain.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Spacer and simulator graphics and patient photo courtesy of Jax Spine & Pain Centers. mkb

The Once-A-Week Workout

Downtowner discovers the strong points of slow-cadence training.

When the NFL invaded Tampa for Super Bowl LV this past February, Shelly Woods and her husband were right in the middle of the fun and festivities. That’s just how they like it.

Shelly using 20 Minutes to Fitness as trainer preston oversees her workout.

Shelly, shown here with her coach, Preston, loves the results she gets from her brief once-a-week workouts.

Shelly, 59, and her husband moved from Odessa to downtown Tampa a little more than a year ago, in large part to take advantage of all the activities there. Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they have not been disappointed.

“For us, living here on the Riverwalk is like living in our own little Disneyland,” Shelly exudes. “We love to bike and walk and partake in all the activities that take place here, and now that’s all right in our own backyard.

“We especially love the theater. We’re members of the Straz Center, so we’re eager to see that and all the outdoor concerts and festivals start up again once the pandemic is over and we all get back to normal.”

Shelly and her husband are also avid skiers. They water ski, snow ski and jet ski whenever possible. For years, their active lifestyle allowed Shelly to keep her weight in check. Then she turned 50, and keeping weight off suddenly became a chore.

“When you go through the change of life, everything changes,” Shelly laments. “Your metabolism changes, your hormones change. Right along with that, my body shape changed. I began to gain weight and lose energy.”

Those physical changes hit Shelly at the same time as another major shift in her life. In 2012, she and her husband started a business, robbing Shelly of the time needed to commit to a gym routine. In time, that took a toll as well.

Without regular exercise, Shelly’s fitness level began to deteriorate. After a few months, she no longer felt as vigorous as she once did. Concerned about her health and eager to get back into a workout routine, Shelly began looking for a fitness program she could squeeze into her busy schedule.

She found it at 20 Minutes to Fitness.

Tailored Training

At 20 Minutes to Fitness, clients work out one-on-one with a nationally certified personal fitness coach, who creates and supervises an individualized workout program. The program is designed to do what the business name implies: achieve results through a weekly 20-minute session.

The workouts are structured around an exercise method known as slow-cadence training. The coach guides the client’s pace and form as weights are lifted in ultraslow movements on highly specialized equipment. Repetitions during each workout take approximately 20 seconds, thereby maximizing muscle performance.

The slow-paced movements create continuous tension on muscle fibers. This allows clients to get more physical benefits than they would in a traditional workout program involving three or four hours per week.

“This method is actually more effective because in this program you have more time under tension on those muscle fibers,” says Blake, general manager at 20 Minutes to Fitness in downtown Sarasota, one of three Florida locations. “The longer the muscle is challenged, the deeper it reaches into the tissue.

“While each repetition in a traditional workout lasts for one or two seconds up and then one or two seconds down, we stretch that out to a 10- to 12-second count. It’s a huge difference that achieves far better results.”

Each workout consists of six to seven exercises of two minutes each, with the goal being to reach what is known as peak performance. When muscles reach this level during strength training, blood flows to the site. That supercharges the body and helps it burn fat while it rebuilds and strengthens the muscle naturally.

“Participants get the maximum benefit through one 20-minute workout per week,” explains Angela Begin, part-owner of 20 Minutes to Fitness. “By going slowly, we get down deeper into the muscle fibers and force them to work at their peak performance. We work the entire body to keep it strong.”

The program has years of research and plenty of science behind its success. The weight-training equipment features a patented double-stacking system, where weight can be increased in increments of 2 pounds instead of the traditional 5, 10 or 20 pounds. The equipment also is calibrated to work specific muscle groups without putting undue stress on joints or ligaments.

“We have clients who are planning to have hip or knee replacement surgeries, and their doctors refer them to us because they know we can help them build the muscle around those joints prior to surgery,” Angela says. “This allows for a quicker recovery after surgery. Some clients have been able to hold off on surgery because they’ve built up the muscle around the joint and may no longer need surgery.”

“Not only do I believe in the science behind it, I’m proof that it works.” – Shelly

Research shows that in addition to improving strength, weekly 20-minute slow-cadence training sessions also improve the immune system, improve balance, increase energy, control arthritis, increase bone density, fight symptoms of diabetes and reduce back pain. The list of benefits goes on and on.

“Most of our clients are people who want to stay fit and don’t have the time or don’t want to spend hours in a gym and possibly risk injury,” Angela adds. “They want a safe, quiet, private studio environment. That and the opportunity to build back the muscle that people lose as they age is what we offer.

Angela points out that no client is too young or old.

“We have teenagers who come in as well as people in their 90s,” she observes. “We have clients who have never worked out as well as athletes.

“We build your strength from where you are today, which is why we encourage people to come in and learn about this unique system and try it out. We offer a complimentary orientation, with no obligation to continue. It’s a great way to make an educated decision about whether or not the 20 Minutes to Fitness program will work for you.”

Tremendously Effective

Shelly did exactly as Angela suggested a couple of years ago. After first hearing about 20 Minutes to Fitness, she gave the workout a try. She admits going in with skepticism.

“It seemed too good to be true, but I got hooked immediately,” she confides. “Now, I like everything about it. I like that I can go anytime I want, and I’m not tied to a contract.”

What she values most, of course, are the results.

“I would say that after only a month of working out at 20 Minutes to Fitness, I started noticing a difference in my body. I felt stronger, and I could actually tell I was getting stronger because I was able to do things I never could before,” she says.

“This may sound silly, but I have a big cast-iron pan that I cook with. It’s my go-to kitchen utensil, and it’s pretty heavy. Heavy enough that I used two hands to pick it up. Not anymore. I can pick that thing up with one hand now like it’s nothing.

“I don’t just feel stronger; my body looks stronger. My husband comments on that all the time now. It’s one of the reasons I look forward to my 20 Minutes to Fitness workouts each week. I really enjoy them.”

Shelly also appreciates that 20 Minutes to Fitness has taken steps to ensure the workout environment is as COVID-safe as possible. She says appointment times are scheduled with safety in mind, coaches always wear a face covering and the machinery is sanitized constantly.

“I feel very safe going to 20 Minutes to Fitness, very safe,” Shelly enthuses. “The drive there for me is a little longer than it used to be because I live in downtown Tampa now, but that doesn’t bother me. It’s worth it because not only do I believe in the science behind it, I’m proof that it works.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photo by Jordan Pysz. mkb
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