Author Archive

DBS Calms Hands Of Essential Tremor Patient

FDA-approved deep brain stimulation delivers electrical impulses to brain.

Arthur Meyers

Gasoline and groceries were the commodities Arthur Meyers hauled during a 43-year career as a truck driver that differed in one very important way from the careers of many of his colleagues.

“I was lucky because when I was hauling gasoline I worked 10-hour days, so I was home every night,” Arthur relates. “And when I hauled groceries I was never out for any more than one or two nights at a time.”

Arthur, 82, transported gasoline to service stations, industrial plants and factories in and around Akron, Ohio, for 20 years. He then moved to Florida, where he delivered groceries to military bases between Key West and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for 23 more.

Along the way, he fought an ever-increasing battle with essential tremor, a nervous system disorder that mostly causes involuntary twitching in the hands.

“I first noticed the problem in 1963,” Arthur relates. “At first, it didn’t really keep me from doing anything I normally would. I played golf, went deer hunting, things like that, and with golf especially, I wasn’t very good anyways, so it didn’t really affect my game much.

“Over the years, though, the issue got a lot worse. After I retired in 2000, it got really bad. My right hand was the worst, and I’m right-handed. It would shake all the time. I had trouble with anything that required a steady hand like eating or writing.”

In 2006, Arthur began taking medication for the problem, but it didn’t help. Then, in 2018, he saw an ad for a seminar about essential tremor led by another neurologist, Anette Nieves, MD.

“This seminar was held in The Villages®, where I live, so I decided to attend,” Arthur remembers. “When I heard her speak, I thought to myself, I’ve been seeing the wrong doctor for this. I decided right then and there to make a switch.”

That decision proved to be life-changing for Arthur because Dr. Nieves suggested addressing his essential tremor with an advanced treatment option called deep brain stimulation, or DBS.

Do You Live With Parkinson’s
Or Essential Tremor?

Join us for a free education event in The Villages, where neurologist Dr. Anette Nieves and neurosurgeon Dr. Mariel Szapiel will discuss the latest medical advancements for the treatment of Parkinson’s and essential tremor.

February 24, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

The Villages Public Library at Belvedere

325 Belvedere Blvd.

Follow signs to private room

Lunch and refreshments provided

Register: learndbs.com/1503 or call/text Blake: (320) 309-4644

 

Regaining Control

With DBS, a small device delivers electrical impulses to electrodes surgically implanted in the brain. That device, known clinically as a neurostimulator, is implanted beneath the skin in the patient’s chest. The impulses are sent to specific areas of the brain through the electrodes, which are connected to the neurostimulator by wires that run beneath the skin.

Arthur’s neurostimulator was made by Boston Scientific, a company lauded by neurologists and neurosurgeons for its development of neuromodulation devices for patients with Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor. The FDA has approved DBS to treat those conditions.

“Boston Scientific’s innovations have been a game changer in the DBS market,” says Mariel Szapiel, MD, FAANS. “For example, their planning and programming software, Stimview, allows for patient stimulation settings to be optimized immediately.

“Other devices do not have this advanced technology. As a result, it can sometimes take months or even years to find the right settings and optimize a patient’s stimulation.

“Boston Scientific’s DBS system gives our patients the most stimulation options available which results in unmatched therapeutic benefit and symptom relief. Their DBS system provides our patients more personalized therapy.”

Studies show that within a year of being implanted with a Boston Scientific DBS device, Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor patients experience a 90 percent improvement in motor function and a 30 percent decrease in required medications for their conditions.

As with Arthur, candidacy for DBS is typically determined by a neurologist, who performs a series of tests to evaluate the patient’s likely response to the therapy. Once a patient is deemed a candidate, an MRI and CT scan of the brain is performed to determine where to place the leads, which are coated wires with electrodes at the tip.

Placement of the leads begins with sedation of the patient. The patient’s head is placed in a frame that ensures it remains steady throughout the procedure. Next, a small haircut is made over the incision area.

After a CT scan to determine exactly where the brain will be accessed, the surgeon makes a small incision in the scalp and uses a surgical drill to create an opening in the skull through which the leads will be placed.

Movement disorder patients such as Arthur are often awakened during the procedure and asked to perform small movements to confirm effective placement of the leads.

The number of leads depends on the disorder. Some patients require only one whereas others need one on each side of the head. The procedure is typically followed by an overnight hospital stay for observation.

At a later date, the neurostimulator is placed in a small pouch created under the skin below the collarbone. An insulated extension wire from the electrodes is run through the scalp, behind the ear and down the neck to the chest, where it’s connected beneath the skin to the neurostimulator.

After a neurologist programs the neurostimulator, the patient uses a handheld controller to turn the system on and off. Stimulation settings can be adjusted to changes in the patient’s condition.

“Life-Changing” Procedure

Arthur underwent the three-hour DBS procedure four years ago. He went home the next day “thrilled with the outcome” and “feeling like a new man.”

“The difference this has made in my life is amazing,” Arthur relates. “I used to struggle through things like eating dinner and holding onto things. Not anymore. Thanks to this procedure, I have the control over my hands that I need to do things normally.

“I’m a big fan of this procedure, because the only time I have any problems with my hands now is if I let the battery run low. And if that happens, all I have to do is plug it in and recharge it. It’s just like recharging your phone.”

Arthur visits Dr. Nieves every six months for a checkup to determine whether changes need to be made to the neurostimulator. Arthur says he’s such a fan of the treatment that he gladly recommends DBS and Dr. Nieves.

“I met a guy at the grocery story recently who has essential tremor,” Arthur offers. “I told him all about the DBS procedure and what it did for me. I even gave him Dr. Nieves name so that he can contact her. I would do that for anybody.”

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

 

 

Senior Skier’s Bones Are At Peak Efficiency

Once-a-week exercise program can reverse the effects of osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Jane Barr

The North American Airline Ski Federation no longer awards medals for its racing events. The organization of airline employees and retirees now rewards top finishers with gift cards and vouchers for hotels, ski equipment, and other goods and services.

That’s just fine with Jane Barr, a 75-year-old retired flight attendant who still skis competitively against other federation members. She already has a dresser drawer full of medals, so she would much rather have the cash.

“I bought my last helmet with one of those vouchers,” Jane notes. “The medals are nice, but the cash is something I can really use.”

Jane is hoping to haul in a little more cash this winter. The federation has events scheduled for Taos, New Mexico, in January; Steamboat Springs, Colorado, in February; and Palisades Tahoe in Olympic Valley, California, in April. She plans on attending all three.

“I’ll probably stick to the B races because I’m never going to be as good as some of those A racers,” Jane adds. “A lot of those folks are in their 20s and 30s, and sometimes it’s even hard for me to compete against some of the racers who are in their 50s.”

But compete she does, in slalom, giant slalom and mogul events. This despite being diagnosed several years ago with osteopenia, a potentially severe condition that can increase the risk of bone breaks.

Found most often in postmenopausal women, osteopenia is the precursor of osteoporosis. Both diseases develop when bone growth fails to keep pace with bone degeneration to where bone mineral density becomes dangerously low.

About 54 million Americans, including many men, experience osteopenia, osteoporosis or low bone mass, all of which increase the risk for hip, spine and wrist fractures and can even cause some to lose height as they can lead to a stooped posture.

Considered a silent disease by many physicians, osteoporosis often goes undetected until a fracture occurs. Jane learned of her condition when a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, or DEXA, scan showed she had osteopenia in her spine.

“Because of the bone loss, my doctor put me on BONIVA®,” Jane shares. “I took that for a year, and my condition didn’t change. Then I read an article in Florida Health Care News about OsteoStrong and decided to give that a try.”

Inventive Program

OsteoStrong is a revolutionary exercise program that has helped more than 25,000 people reverse the effects of osteoporosis and osteopenia through the use of specialized biomechanical equipment once a week for about 15 minutes.

The equipment is designed for resistance-based pushing and pulling with the arms and legs. During the resistance motion, a pressure many times the user’s body weight can be safely applied.

“The difference between OsteoStrong equipment and the equipment at a traditional gym is that ours does not involve a counter force,” states Mark Brady, president of OsteoStrong in South Pasadena.

“Because there’s no force pushing against you, you create a force within your comfort zone, and you’re in control of it at all times. For example, on our lower body machine, I’ve had women in their 80s who weigh 100 pounds exert forces in excess of 1,000 pounds.

“For a 100-pound person to develop new bone working out on traditional weight equipment, they would need to create a resistance of over 400 pounds. That simply can’t be done by 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.”

“I couldn’t be happier with my decision to join OsteoStrong.” – Jane

To understand the difference, Mark invites people to come in and try the OsteoStrong equipment, noting that his facility offers a free orientation session that will allow them to learn more about the science behind the program.

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

“Medical research has shown when you put certain forces on the bones, the body responds by growing new bone tissue. That’s what OsteoStrong does, and the results of these short sessions are absolutely amazing.”

According to Mark, studies have found that OsteoStrong improves bone density 3 to 10 percent per year. In addition, people will increase their strength by an average of 73 percent over their first year at OsteoStrong.

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

Noting that osteoporosis is not exclusive to any age group or gender, Mark encourages people of all ages to accept his invitation to try the equipment.

“Osteoporosis is not something that only happens to old people,” he explains. “As a result, we have clients from young to old. And men are not immune. When men start losing their testosterone, their bone loss becomes more rapid.

“At OsteoStrong, we also offer people an opportunity to learn more about osteopenia and osteoporosis and why the OsteoStrong program is so effective at fighting them.”

“Marvelous” Results

Even at age 75, Jane continues to ski at a championship level.

Jane first began working out at OsteoStrong four years ago. A DEXA scan taken two years later showed that her osteopenia remained stable; another taken this past year indicted the osteopenia “was gone, totally gone,” she says.

“I was really impressed with that because it proves the program is working. I also take a calcium supplement, but I couldn’t be happier with my decision to join OsteoStrong.

“The workouts are very convenient, and they’re not hard at all. I love going there, and I’ve recommended the program to several friends. Some are going already, and some others are thinking about it.

“I gladly encourage anyone to give OsteoStrong a try, especially if you’re fighting osteopenia or osteoporosis because it’s a great program and the people there are very helpful.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photo by Jordan Pysz. Race photo courtesy of Jane Barr. mkb

Procedure Ends Compression Fracture Pain

Outpatient, minimally invasive kyphoplasty brings immediate back relief.

It wasn’t long after Alice* moved to Interlachen a few years ago that a sign she passes on her way to the grocery store began calling out to her. Being the animal lover that she is, it was inevitable that Alice would eventually answer that call.

“The sign is for SAFE, which is an acronym for Saving Animals from Euthanasia,” says Alice, 72. “It was put up by a nearby animal shelter, and since I love animals, I thought there might be something I could do to help out. Now, I volunteer there twice a week.

“I mostly clean the kitty cat room, which is fine because I have two older male cats myself. I also have two beautiful German shepherds, and I’m fostering two kittens that I’ve had since they were a day and a half old.”

A retired information systems manager, Alice is an active sort who seldom spends time on the couch watching TV. That recently became her plight, however, after she experienced a disabling back injury.

To the best of her knowledge, Alice was injured a little more than a year ago while walking her dogs. When two stray dogs began to follow, Alice’s dogs shifted into protection mode.

“I could hear the growls from the other dogs getting closer as they came up behind us,” Alice says. “All of a sudden, my two dogs stopped and stood in front of me. When I turned around, my one dog jumped up and body-slammed me to the ground.

“After that, both of my dogs just stood over me as if to protect me, and the other dogs went away. I really appreciate my dogs being so protective, but I knew that being knocked down by a 125-pound German shepherd would probably cause some damage, and it did.”

Based on the pain she felt at impact, Alice first thought that the damage was a broken hip. Nevertheless, she was able to get to her feet and finish her walk, but the pain in her back soon began to intensify. Then it became debilitating.

“I could still walk, but my back hurt so much that I had to walk all bent over like an old lady, which irritated me,” Alice says. “Pretty soon, sleeping became a problem, too, because I couldn’t get comfortable lying on my back or side.

“It was hard working at the animal shelter because I was in excruciating pain all the time. I couldn’t do a lot of the things I like to do, including gardening and other outside chores. I knew I had to get some help.”

“Dr. Hanes is an excellent doctor whom I trust completely.” – Alice

Alice sought that help from the staff at Jax Spine & Pain Centers, a practice that specializes in the use of progressive interventional treatment options to address chronic joint, neck and back pain.

Alice was already familiar with the practice.

“I’ve been visiting Jax Spine & Pain Centers once or twice a year since 2014,” she details. “I hurt my back in a boating accident back then, and ever since I’ve been going there and getting steroid injections to relieve the pain.”

When the pain from her fall persisted, Alice returned to Jax Pain & Spine Centers thinking she would probably get another steroid injection. However, an MRI revealed that addressing the damage would require more.

“When we got the MRI back it showed that Alice had what we commonly refer to as either a spinal, or vertebral, compression fracture,” reports Michael Hanes, MD, of Jax Spine & Pain Centers.

A spinal compression fracture occurs when a vertebra weakens and either breaks or collapses to where it affects the nerves in the back. That can cause severe pain as well as deformity and a stooped posture if left untreated.

Compression fractures can occur anywhere in the spine, but the break or collapse most often affects the lower portion of the thoracic, or middle, area.

As it was with Alice, a compression fracture can be caused by a bad fall or some other form of trauma. Compression fractures typically are traced to osteoporosis, especially in older people.

Osteoporosis and its precursor, osteopenia, are conditions in which bone growth fails to keep pace with natural bone degeneration until bone mineral density becomes dangerously low.

According to federal data, about 54 million Americans, most of them postmenopausal women, suffer from osteopenia, osteoporosis or low bone mass, all of which can greatly weaken and ultimately fracture bones in the spine.

Indeed, in people with osteoporosis, a compression fracture can be produced by something as simple as a cough or from lifting a heavy object. Many people don’t know they even have the disease until a fracture occurs.

Painless Procedure

Compression fractures can be repaired through a painless, minimally invasive, injection-like procedure called kyphoplasty (pronounced ki-fo-plas-tee). The outpatient treatment takes about 30 minutes and is completed under light sedation at Jax Spine & Pain Centers. It can be performed within 24 hours of a patient being diagnosed with a spinal fracture.

“Prior to the development of this procedure, patients with a spinal compression fracture would usually be placed in a brace before being sent home in the hope that the fracture would heal on its own,” says Kassai Silva, MD, at Jax Spine & Pain Centers.

“The brace was very uncomfortable, and the patients sometimes had a hard time breathing and ambulating. As a result, it wasn’t unusual for some patients to wind up in the hospital with pneumonia or blood clots that could go to their lungs.

“That’s why kyphoplasty is considered by many to be a lifesaver. It repairs the fracture and prevents patients from suffering some of these other issues, so it actually reduces the risk of mortality in patients with a compression fracture.”

A study of more than 2 million compression fracture patients showed that those undergoing kyphoplasty were 22 percent less likely to die from complications associated with the fracture than those who did not receive the procedure.

“That’s one of the reasons that we, as doctors, find this procedure so fulfilling,” adds David Salek, MD, of Jax Spine & Pain Centers. “We appreciate the fact that not only does it have an almost immediate effect on the patients’ pain, but it can also save their life.”

Patients with compression fractures are often in so much pain that they don’t get out of bed or a chair, and because they’re sitting so much more than usual, blood begins to pool in the legs. That can develop into venous stasis, which can lead to a clot.

“That clot can either sit in the leg or it can travel up to the lung, which can be quite dangerous. So, another reason this procedure helps reduce mortality rates is because the vertebral bodies themselves are an important structure in respiration,” Dr. Salek says.

“Your rib segments move as you take in a deep breath, and as those rib segments move, the spine moves. If patients are feeling pain from a compression fracture, they typically aren’t breathing as deeply. As a result of the patient not breathing deeply, the lung sticks to itself, and that can lead to bacteria or a viral kind of seeding within the lung. That, of course, can lead to pneumonia.

Immediate Results

Kyphoplasty is performed through a small incision in the back through which the physician uses a needle and x-ray guidance to insert a balloon into the fractured vertebra. By inflating the balloon, the compressed vertebra returns to its original height.

The cavity created by the expansion of the balloon is filled with a fast-drying cement that immediately stabilizes the fracture, alleviating pressure on the nerves and eliminating the pain.

“Another great thing is that it’s a permanent fix,” adds Dr. Hanes. “It prevents the vertebra that has collapsed or fractured from ever fracturing again or losing more height, which is a critical aspect.

“When you see a man or woman in their 80s who’s all hunched over, it’s usually because they suffered a lot of spinal compression fractures that were never treated. This procedure can correct that problem, and it corrects it for good.”

An additional benefit of having the treatment at Jax Spine & Pain Centers is that it is less costly.

“If you go to a hospital or surgery center, you’ll pay significantly more because you also need to pay professional and facility fees,” says Mike Bergantino, chief operating officer of Jax Spine & Pain Centers. “At our office, your regular office co-pay covers the cost.”

The results are immediate, which allows patients to quickly return home and to regular activities.

“The cement that we place in the cavity is dry before the patient leaves our office,” Dr. Silva notes. “So, the only reason we don’t say, Go home and do everything you normally would, is because the patient received sedation.

“That’s why we tell our patients, Go home and be careful for 24 hours. After that, they’re usually good to go. Even if the patient is 80 years old and walks two miles a day, he or she can go back to walking those two miles within 24 hours.

“That’s another aspect of this procedure. Patients typically go home, take some acetaminophen, and by the following day, they feel great. In fact, a patient that I did a kyphoplasty on emailed the next day saying she felt 100 percent pain relief.”

Dr. Salek received a similar response from a patient who had several spinal compression fractures. After performing kyphoplasty on three of the fractures, the pain was almost completely alleviated, the doctor reports.

“That patient actually had seven levels that were fractured, so we started by treating three,” Dr. Salek details. “In some cases, we do have to go back and repair the rest. But in this case, the patient had nearly 100 percent relief after just a few days.

“Now we’re waiting and watching to see if we’ll need to treat any additional levels. That’s how effective this procedure can be. And because we do it in our office, it’s an effective treatment for patients who are not candidates for surgery in a hospital space.”

“Miracle Worker”

When recommending kyphoplasty, the doctors at Jax Spine & Pain Centers usually encourage patients, especially older patients, to have the procedure done as soon as possible. Waiting can result in further damage.

Alice weighed those variables and others in making her decision to undergo kyphoplasty. She is now among those who have greatly benefitted from the treatment, which has allowed her to resume an active lifestyle.

“The procedure was absolutely painless, the relief was immediate, and now I’m walking, gardening and doing all the things I like to do outside again,” she enthuses. “I can even do housework and laundry again because the pain I was experiencing is gone.

“For me, this treatment has been a life-changer. That’s why I only have wonderful things to say about Dr. Hanes and his staff. They’re all caring and professional.

Dr. Hanes really listens to his patients, and I love that he is so meticulous.

“I’m so glad he recommended this treatment for me. Like I said, Dr. Hanes is an excellent doctor whom I trust completely, and I recommend him to anyone because he’s a miracle worker.”

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

Laser Therapy Kills Lingering Toenail Fungus

Painless PinPointe therapy is podiatrist’s “weapon of choice.”

After winning her nearly two-year battle with cancer, Sally* celebrated in part by moving from North Carolina to Florida, where she and her husband recently found a waterside home that they fell in love with at first sight.

Unfortunately, Sally resettled still bearing scars left by her cancer treatment. Though her hair grew back, a toenail that fell off during chemotherapy continued to give her fits.

“It was the toenail on my left big toe, and just as it was almost done growing back out, it would fall off again,” Sally details. “At first, I was seeing a podiatrist in North Carolina about it, but after moving to Florida, I started to see a podiatrist in Bradenton.”

Both podiatrists determined that a fungus was causing the nail to fall off, but neither could find an agent strong enough to destroy the fungus. It wasn’t until Sally changed podiatrists yet again that she found a provider with a weapon that could undo that.

“I switched because I read an article in Florida Health Care News about a woman who had the same problem I had,” Sally remembers. “She went to see Dr. Chiu, and Dr. Chiu took care of it, so I thought, Maybe Dr. Chiu can help me, too.

Dawn Chiu, DPM, AACFAS, of Sarasota Foot and Ankle Center, has adopted PinPointe FootLaser® therapy as her “weapon of choice” in the battle against stubborn toenail fungus.

PinPointe FootLaser therapy is a quick, easy, painless in-office treatment that kills the fungus without side effects and does not require patients to take a blood test beforehand.

“PinPointe FootLaser treatments last only a few minutes, during which time the laser is passed over the nail in a crisscross pattern to ensure full coverage,” Dr. Chiu explains. “Patients usually feel a warmth on their toe during the treatment but no pain.”

After each treatment, patients can return to normal activities immediately. When combined with topical ointments, the laser therapy has an 80 percent success rate, according to Dr. Chiu, who counts Sally among her successes.

“Given my medical history, one of the first things Dr. Chiu did was take a biopsy to determine exactly which fungus she was dealing with,” Sally reports. “Then she found the exact ointment that was needed to help fight that particular fungus.

“She then did the laser treatment, and that was pretty much it. I received one laser treatment and that was a little more than a year ago. Since then, the nail has grown back and stayed on, and it looks perfect, so everything has worked out really well.

“I could not be more pleased with the outcome. I’m so pleased, in fact, that I have my husband going to see Dr. Chiu, and I gladly recommend her to others. She really knows her stuff.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings
*Patient’s name changed at her request.

Some Meds Can Cause Hearing, Balance Woes

You likely haven’t heard of ototoxicity, a common auditory and vestibular disorder.

In 1944, while discovering that a recently isolated antibiotic called streptomycin could wipe out tuberculosis, doctors learned that many of the patients who received the medication were left with irreversible cochlear and vestibular dysfunction.

It wasn’t the first time a medication had been found to cause such damaging side effects. A century earlier, doctors found that high levels of aspirin in the body can have a toxic effect on hearing.

Since those discoveries, more than 200 classes of drugs, including over-the-counter pain relievers, diuretics, antibiotics and pharmaceuticals used to treat heart disease and cancer have been found to cause hearing loss or damage to the structure of the inner ear.

Those effects are known clinically as ototoxicity or ear poisoning.

Kelly Breese, AuD, of Hearing Aids of Sarasota, worries that too many people are unaware that medications they are taking could cause ototoxicity and the dangers associated with it.

“This is a condition that can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss, tinnitus, disequilibrium and dizziness, and what concerns me is that many people don’t know that the medications they’re taking can cause this,” the audiologist says.

“Even people taking prescribed medications aren’t aware of the dangers because this is something they’re often not told about, not even by their doctors. The good news is, if ototoxicity is caught soon enough, the symptoms can sometimes be resolved.”

In some cases, symptoms cease naturally after use of the medication is terminated. In others, symptoms can be alleviated by simply altering the dosage.

The first step is defining the nature of the disorder. That is typically done by an audiologist testing a patient’s hearing to determine the nature and cause of the ototoxicity.

This is especially important for patients requiring medication to control diabetes, heart disease and cancer. For them, monitoring the ototoxicity throughout the course of treatment may be required to ensure they are not suffering unnecessarily.

“That’s also why it’s important for people to have a baseline hearing test,” Dr. Breese adds. “We can use that to gauge the impact, if any, that long-term medications might be having on their hearing.

“The problem is, not many people get baseline hearing tests. Most people don’t think to do that until they have a problem with their hearing. If possible, though, everyone should get an annual hearing test just the way you get an annual checkup or vision exam.

“That way, if something comes up and you have to start taking a medication for any reason and you later notice that you’re hearing or balance is affected, we can work with your doctor and make adjustments that will alleviate the problem.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. mkb

Cold Feet? Therapy Puts Out Neuropathy Fire

Treatments rebuild damaged nerves that cause feelings of cold and heat in extremities.

Starry Starry Explosion

Many an artist has attempted to recreate or put their own spin on a beloved masterpiece such as Vincent van Gogh’s, The Starry Night. Few have tried to recreate that treasure on a medium as unique as the one Eris Dietz chose.

“I painted it on a conch shell,” Eris says proudly. “I call it, Starry Starry Explosion. I really wanted to paint something by Dali on a shell, but that’s really hard to do, so I chose The Starry Night by van Gogh. It turned out pretty well.”

Painting shells is Eris’ favorite hobby. Most of the shells she’s painted have been dressed up with a unique blend of bright colors, but given the right shell, Eris will take on the more difficult challenge of painting an image on it.

Two years ago, that challenge became even greater after Eris suffered head, back and neck injuries during a fall at home. The injuries, which included several ruptured discs, were so great that Eris had to give up her job as a virtual security guard.

To alleviate her neck and back pain, Eris was advised to visit a chiropractor. Acting on a recommendation from her mother, she visited Kenneth D. Carle, DC, founder of Carle Chiropractic Clinic and Renewed Life Wellness Center in Sarasota.

Since opening his practices, Dr. Carle has committed himself to offering patients the best in chiropractic services, including spinal adjustments, massage, physiotherapy, x-rays, nutritional supplements, weight loss and regenerative medicine.

Both practices proudly cater to military veterans, and together they offer treatment for all forms of neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, headaches and peripheral neuropathy, which is caused by damage to nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord.

More to the Story

Dr. Carle began his treatment of Eris by performing standard chiropractic adjustments on her back and neck. Those adjustments were making a positive impact, but one day, Eris mentioned that they weren’t doing much for another problem.

“I don’t know why I never mentioned it when I first went to see him, but I finally told Dr. Carle that my hands and feet always felt very cold,” Eris relates. “My boyfriend said they felt warm to him, but to me they were freezing.

“My feet felt so cold that I always had to have them covered. Sometimes I would wear two pair of socks and they were still cold. And at night, I sometimes had to sleep with a heating pad on my feet because they were so cold.

“I sometimes felt a lot of pain, too, especially in my feet. It was a very odd kind of pain, though. The best way I can describe it is that it felt like I had no skin on my feet. It was very weird, but it made it extremely hard for me to walk.

“I really can’t say enough about Dr. Carle and his staff. The work they have done for me is incredible.” – Eris

“When I finally told Dr. Carle about all this, he said, How long has this been going on? I said, It’s been like this for months. I thought it was from a pinched nerve and that his adjustments would help, but that wasn’t the case.”

Upon learning of the discomfort in Eris’ feet and hands, Dr. Carle performed a nerve conduction study to determine the cause of her hand and foot discomfort. The test revealed that she was experiencing peripheral neuropathy, which has four stages.

Patients in Stages 1, 2 and 3 have various amounts of pain, numbness and burning. As those symptoms grow in severity, many may lose their balance, which can lead to a loss of independence and the need for assistance from a cane, walker or motorized chair.

“In Stage 4, patients are too far gone, and some cannot be treated,” Dr. Carle explains. “That’s the stage where people need to have toes amputated and are totally reliant on others to take care of them. Thankfully, Eris was not at that stage.”

A House on Fire

Eris was diagnosed with Stage 3 peripheral neuropathy. Dr. Carle likens Stage 2 and Stage 3 to a house on fire. The goal of treatment, the doctor asserts, is to put out the fire and rebuild the house.

“It usually takes six to eight weeks to stop the fire, or the peripheral neuropathy,” Dr. Carle details. “Then we start rebuilding the house. We do that by repairing the nerves, which have been damaged because the blood supply to them has been diminished.

“To better understand it, think of the body as a plant. If a plant doesn’t have good soil, enough water and sunshine, it’s going to die. Likewise, your hands and feet need a sufficient nerve, blood and oxygen supply to survive. Lack of any of these results in a dead plant or, in the case of our feet and hands, nerve death.”

Dr. Carle has about a dozen tools available to stop peripheral neuropathy and restore damaged nerves. The severity of each patient’s condition determines which tools he uses, but one is used almost universally: a medical nerve rebuilder.

This device uses neuroelectrical therapy to repair and regenerate damaged nerves. Dr. Carle also uses red-light therapy and vibration as well as nutritional supplements and creams to promote healing from peripheral neuropathy.

The medical devices, when applied to the feet and hands, increase circulation, which increases blood flow to where the nerve damage occurred.

“One hundred percent of our patients experience some improvement in their symptoms when treatment protocols are followed,” Dr. Carle states. “We don’t get 100 percent improvement in 100 percent of our patients, but most patients experience somewhere between 30 and 75 percent relief.”

Feeling Better

Dr. Carle used all those devices in treating Eris, who was also given two medicated creams to apply to her hands and feet as well as some dietary guidelines designed to reduce inflammation and further advance healing of the nerves.

“We also provide patients with some supplements that help advance their healing,” Dr. Carle adds. “Both are vasodilators that increase the production of nitric oxide, which increases the diameter of the blood vessels and helps with blood flow.”

Eris first saw Dr. Carle last spring and began receiving treatment for neuropathy a couple of months later. Since then, she has made what she describes as a satisfying recovery.

“My neuropathy is at least 40 percent better than it was before,” she enthuses. “I can actually feel my hands, feet and ankles now, and my pain is nowhere near as bad as it was. I can walk without pain again, which is amazing.”

Eris, who was diagnosed with severe neuropathy, continues to receive home treatment. She’s confident that Dr. Carle has placed her on a path that will lead to a full recovery.

She’s grateful for the doctor’s care.

“I really can’t say enough about Dr. Carle and his staff,” Eris concludes. “Everyone there is amazing, and the work they have done for me is incredible. I absolutely recommend them to anyone. They’re just great.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photo courtesy of Renewed Life Wellness Center. Conch photos courtesy of Eris Dietz. mkb

Wound VAC Prompts Healing Of Hip Infection

Specialized in-home treatments help close seeping pressure ulcer.

More than a third of the 20 years that Judy* spent as an Air Force nurse were abroad, in faraway places such as Thailand, Turkey and Europe. Judy says she learned a valuable life lesson during those extended stays.

“I learned that God doesn’t have favorites,” Judy reasons. “The whole world is beautiful, and everywhere you go, there are very nice, very funny people who care deeply for one other. Though we speak different languages, we’re all pretty much alike.”

The daughter of a St. Augustine firefighter, Judy joined the service in 1964, four years after graduating from nursing school. She retired in 1984 at age 45 and continued devoting much of her time caring for others.

“I retired to Panama City but moved back to St. Augustine after five years to take care of my mother, who was diabetic,” Judy explains. “After that I got deeply involved in church work. I also raised four dogs, all Dachshunds. They were my kids.”

Now 83, Judy often finds herself surrounded by children, the offspring of her five siblings, several of whom live near her in St. Augustine. That’s a good thing, because there was a time not long ago when she suddenly found herself badly in need of their help.

“It started when I decided that instead of taking a shower, I was going to relax and soak in the bathtub for a while,” Judy explains. “The problem was that when I tried getting out of the tub, I couldn’t. No matter what I did, I could not lift myself out of that tub.

“It was a horrifying experience that lasted for four days and four nights. The only way I survived was by drinking water out of the tap. Finally, after four days, my family finally came to check on me and found me there still sitting in that tub.”

After her rescue, Judy spent a few days in a hospital, then two weeks rebuilding her strength at a rehabilitation facility. That’s where a family member noticed that a bruise had formed on Judy’s left hip.

By the time Judy was released from rehab, the bruise was causing her pain whenever she walked. Then, over the next two weeks, the bruise turned into an open weeping wound that clearly needed medical attention.

That attention was initially provided by Judy’s primary care physician, who arranged for treatment through a home health care provider. Almost immediately, the home health nurse sought help from the wound specialists at Advanced Wound, Ostomy & Continence Care.

50 Years of Experience

The four advanced practice nurses at Advanced Wound, Ostomy & Continence Care boast more than 50 combined years of experience in providing wound care, ostomy care, dermatological care, continence care and patient education.

“We are a patient-centered practice that uses evidence-based modalities in the treatment of our patients,” says team member Kristi Lord, DNP, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, CWS. “We treat venous leg ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers, pressure ulcers and all other kinds of wounds.

“There is absolutely nothing on your body that we won’t try to fix if it has something to do with the skin or excretion. I say that because wounds and excretion are correlated. If you don’t properly rid your body of its waste, your wounds are not going to heal, or you’re going to get wounds you didn’t have before.

“I can’t say enough good things about Kristi and the great work she did for me.”- Judy

“Our goal is to help people live comfortably and, in terms of our continence care, we mainly instruct our patients how to improve that issue through pelvic floor exercises, therapy and education.”

When Kristi first visited Judy, she knew immediately that Judy was dealing with a deeply infected pressure ulcer. After hearing Judy’s story, Kristi concluded that the roots of the ulcer formed while Judy lay stationary in the bathtub.

“It initiated underneath the skin from the bone pressing into the tub,” Kristi reports. “That compressed all the tissue between the skin and the bone in a place that Judy couldn’t see, which is how a lot of pressure ulcers start.

“At the rehab facility it appeared as a little red ring on her hip that no one paid much attention to. But over time, the ulcer festered and brewed and started eating away at the tissue underneath.

“By the time I got to it, it was a smelly, goopy infected mess, and it was big. It was about two inches long, an inch wide and almost an inch and a half deep, so it was a rather severe situation that we were dealing with.”

Kristi began her care of Judy’s wound by performing several debridements, in which healing is promoted through the removal of dead, damaged and infected tissue. She then ordered an x-ray to determine if Judy’s hip bone was infected.

The x-rays came back negative, but Judy’s complaint of pain in her hip while walking convinced Kristi the bone was infected. With that in mind, Kristi prescribed a two-week course of oral antibiotics.

The medication did little to heal the wound and the pain remained, so Kristi sent Judy to an infectious disease expert, who ordered an MRI. The MRI confirmed Kristi’s suspicion that Judy’s hip bone was infected.

Closing Time

Following the confirmation, Judy was placed on intravenous antibiotics to ensure the medication was going directly into the bloodstream. That and a series of treatments using a wound VAC sparked the healing that Judy needed.

VAC is an acronym for vacuum-assisted closing, and wound VAC therapy is “exactly what it sounds like,” Kristi educates.

“I put a sponge on the wound and hook a vacuum hose to it that sucks the drainage out of the wound and deposits it into a teeny-tiny canister. At the same time, the vacuum pulls the edges of the wound together, which helps to close the wound. The vacuum is in a bag that the patient carries until it’s no longer needed.”

Judy received six weeks of wound VAC therapy. During that time, the wound closed and the infection cleared. Judy is now walking and exercising without hip pain, and she gives the bulk of the credit to Kristi and her treatment approaches.

“Kristi is terrific,” Judy enthuses. “She knew exactly what was happening with that wound, and once she got me on the IV antibiotics and put that vacuum on it, that really sped up the healing.

“She also put a skin graft on the wound to help fill it in. I can’t be more pleased with the treatment I received from her. She did a great job and kept everyone in my family informed about what was happening, which I really appreciate.

“I can’t say enough good things about Kristi and the great work she did for me. I feel very fortunate that I had her on my side during this. Who knows what would have become of me had she not come along to take care of me.”

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

Multifocal IOL Options For Cataract Patients

Latest intraocular lenses can make you glasses-free – even if you’ve undergone LASIK or PRK.

In the first 10 months of 2022, the Flagler Humane Society returned 465 pets to their rightful owners and found homes for more than 1,500 other lost or abandoned animals.

Amy Carotenuto can’t help but be proud of those numbers.

Now in her 38th year in animal welfare, Amy is the executive director of the local nonprofit, which provides shelter, care and protection for more than 6,000 animals a year.

“I started out by volunteering one day a week, but I always felt like I could and wanted to do more,” Amy shares. “It’s a challenging job, but it’s a job I absolutely love.”

One of the challenges Amy faced in recent years was brought on by her vision. The need for reading glasses, or “cheaters,” presented some difficulties.

“I had readers on my head, readers in my purse, readers everywhere,” Amy laments. “I had so many pairs of readers that I couldn’t keep track of them all.

“There were also times when I would forget I had readers on my forehead and would start looking around for another pair because I needed them for everything.

“I also didn’t like the fact that if I just wore my readers down low on my nose all the time it made me look older than I really am. I’m only 59, so I’m not that old.”

Reading, or near vision, fades naturally as part of the aging process, but that wasn’t Amy’s only eye issue brought on by aging.

Through her ophthalmologist, Alexandra Kostick, MD, FACS, FRCSC, of Atlantic Eye Center, Amy learned a few years ago she was also developing cataracts.

Gradual Changes

Cataracts are a clouding of the lens that forms because of a breakdown of lens fibers or a clumping of proteins. They typically result in blurred vision, increased sensitivity to light and a reduction in the vibrancy of colors.

Those changes tend to happen gradually, sometimes over the course of a few years. As a result, they often go unnoticed. That was certainly the case with Amy, who experienced a minor uptick in blurred distance vision but little else.

“But I knew this problem wasn’t going to go away and would only get worse,” Amy recounts. “So, when Dr. Kostick told me last spring that my cataracts had developed to a stage where they could be taken out, I decided to go ahead and get that done.”

Cataracts are removed surgically through an outpatient procedure, typically one eye at a time with a week or two in between.

During this procedure, the clouded natural lens is removed and replaced with a synthetic intraocular lens, or IOL.

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

“My vision is so good now, I don’t need readers for anything. I don’t even carry them around anymore.” – Amy

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

“People who have macular degeneration or retina problems or anyone who had refractive surgery such as LASIK or PRK are not candidates for the PanOptix lens,” Dr. Kostick confirms. “For those patients, I now recommend the Alcon IQ Vivity® IOL.

The Vivity lens 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. Dr. Kostick says the PanOptix and Vivity lenses have similar effects on eyesight.

“The only real difference is that the Vivity doesn’t provide the same sharp near or reading vision that the PanOptix does,” Dr. Kostick notes. “It provides some up-close vision, but patients receiving the Vivity may need to use some weak plus-1 readers.”

Back in Focus

Due to her frustration with reading glasses, Amy chose to be fit with PanOptix lenses. She was soon informed, however, she could not be fit with a PanOptix in her left eye because of an old injury. As a result, she chose the Vivity for that eye.

Despite two types of lenses, Amy says the results have been life-changing.

“I had the right eye — the one where I received the PanOptix lens — done first, and wow, what a difference that made,” Amy enthuses. “I was amazed at how fast my overall vision improved just from having the surgery done on one eye.

“It was so cool because the day after the surgery I could see everything without having to wear readers. The only time I needed the readers was if I was working late at night and my eyes were tired or if there was very little light.

“Other than that, the one surgery made a world of difference. I even noticed that my distance vision was better and colors were brighter. Then, after I had the second surgery, my vision got even better. Everything had more clarity.

“My vision is so good now that I don’t need readers for anything. I don’t even carry them around anymore. And I can’t tell you how convenient that is. It’s just one less thing I have to worry about, so I could not be happier with the outcome.”

Like Family

She is equally pleased with Dr. Kostick, who has cared for Amy’s eyes for nearly a decade.

“I first met Dr. Kostick eight or nine years ago because she donates to the Flagler Humane Society,” Amy recalls. “After that, I started seeing her for my eye care, and immediately I noticed that the walls of her office are just lined with awards.”

One of the most accomplished surgeons in the field, Dr. Kostick was the first ophthalmologist in the area to implant the PanOptix and Vivity lenses in patients, but the knowledge and expertise she offers are just two parts of her practice’s foundation.

“We also strive to make our patients part of our extended family,” Dr. Kostick asserts. “We want 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

Brain Neurostimulator Nixes Tremor Shakes

Advanced treatment helps patients with essential tremor or Parkinson’s regain control.

For 30 years, Bob struggled to control his hands. During a three-hour procedure, DBS restored that control.

Most of what Bob Carlton saw of Vietnam during his two wartime tours of duty was seen from the cockpit of an A-1 Skyraider, which means he played a significant role in saving the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of soldiers and civilians.

“I was the bombardier navigator on a special plane that was outfitted to run electronic countermeasures,” Bob explains. “I ran missions where our job was to jam the radar that controlled enemy guns and surface-to-air missiles.”

Bob ran 162 such missions across the five years he served as a naval aviator. He also ran a couple of missions that didn’t go quite as planned. Both resulted in crashes that Bob says he’s fortunate to have lived through.

“The first occurred when the catapult on the aircraft carrier we were flying off of failed,” Bob remembers. “That plane went straight into the water. Never even got airborne. The second was the result of an engine fire, so I’m actually quite lucky to be here.”

Lucky indeed, but a couple of years ago, Bob began to feel like his luck was running out. A battle with essential tremor, a nervous system disorder that mostly causes involuntary twitching in the hands, was the reason.

“For me, the problem started about 30 years ago,” says Bob, now 70. “It started with occasional little shakes in my left hand. Over time, it got worse. A lot worse. It moved into both hands and got so bad it was hard to do almost anything.

“Just about anything you do with your hands, I couldn’t do. I couldn’t hold a fork or spoon or control a toothbrush, so eating and brushing my teeth were very difficult. The problem also made it hard for me to do one of my favorite hobbies, woodworking.

“I love to make little toys for kids – planes, trains and cars. I’ve done it for years, and it takes a lot of dexterity. But this tremor thing made it really difficult. Not impossible. Just difficult. A lot of people wonder how I still did it. I told them, You learn to adapt.

About a year ago, Bob grew tired of adapting. The shaking in his hands became so bad that after years of trying to control the problem through medication, he finally accepted his neurologist’s advice to try an advanced treatment option for the disorder.

Regaining Control

That treatment is called deep brain stimulation, or DBS. It is an FDA-approved procedure in which the patient is implanted with a small pacemaker-sized device that delivers electrical impulses to specified areas of the brain.

Known as a neurostimulator, the device is placed beneath the skin in the chest, and impulses are delivered through electrodes implanted in the brain and connected to the device by wires beneath the skin.

The neurostimulator Bob received was made by Boston Scientific, which is lauded by neurologists and neurosurgeons for its advanced development of neuromodulation devices for patients with Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor.

“They’re a great group to work with on every level, a very strong company,” raves Kai McGreevy, MD, DABPN, RPVI, RPNI, RMSK, a board-certified neurologist and founder of McGreevy NeuroHealth, which has offices in St. Augustine and Palm Coast.

“Since my fellowship training, I’ve had nothing but great experiences with Boston Scientific and have largely stuck with them because I’ve had very good success with the neuromodulation techniques they offer for both the brain and the spine.”

Studies show that within a year of being implanted with a Boston Scientific DBS device, Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor patients experience a 90 percent improvement in motor function and a 30 percent decrease in required medications for their conditions.

As it was with Bob, candidacy for DBS is typically determined by a neurologist, who performs a series of tests to evaluate the patient’s likely response to the therapy.

It doesn’t just work, it changes your life. It truly is a life-changing surgery. – Bob

Once a patient is deemed a candidate for DBS therapy, an MRI and CT scan of the brain is performed to determine where to place the leads, which are coated wires with electrodes at the tip.

Placement of the leads is performed during a procedure that begins with the patient being sedated. The patient’s head is then placed in a frame that ensures the head remains steady throughout the procedure. Next, a small haircut is made over the incision site.

After a CT scan is performed to determine the exact point at which the brain will be accessed, the surgeon makes a small incision in the scalp and uses a surgical drill to create the opening in the skull through which the leads will be placed.

Movement disorder patients such as Bob are often awakened during the procedure and asked to perform small movements once the leads are situated to confirm effective placement.

“When I was woken up, I could see and hear everything, but I didn’t feel any pain because the brain doesn’t feel pain,” Bob says. “And when they placed the leads, it was like a switch that stops the tremor was being turned on and off. It was amazing.”

The number of leads depends on the disorder. Some patients require only one whereas others need one on each side of the head. In either case, the procedure is typically followed by an overnight hospital stay for observation.

The neurostimulator is placed at a later date in a small pouch created under the skin below the collarbone. Then, an insulated extension wire is run from the electrodes in the scalp, behind the ear and down the neck to the chest, where it is connected beneath the skin to the neurostimulator.

After it’s programmed by the neurologist, a handheld controller is used by the patient to turn the DBS system on and off. As needed, stimulation settings can be changed to adjust to changes in the patient’s condition.

 

 

Seminar

Tuesday, January 17 • 6 p.m.
Aloft Jacksonville Tapestry Park Hotel
Register online: learndbs.com/1493
Speaker: Dr. D. Tavanaiepour, UF Health Neurosurgery

 

 

 

 

 

Seminar

Wednesday, February 8 • 11 a.m.
Palm Coast Community Center
Register online: learndbs.com/1496
Speaker: Dr. A. Keebaugh, Boston Scientific

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seminar

Tuesday, February 14 • 11 a.m.
Ponte Vedra Beach Public Library
Register online: learndbs.com/1497
Speaker: Dr. P. Tipton, Mayo Clinic Neurology

 

 

Life-Changing Procedure

Bob underwent the approximately three-hour DBS procedure in September 2021. When he was released the next day, he felt “like a new man.”

“To me, this is the greatest surgery there is,” Bob raves. “It’s unbelievable. In three hours, a problem I had for 30 years was fixed. There was no waiting around for anything to take effect or for the condition to improve. It was immediate.

“This surgery met my needs in every way I hoped. My hands are as steady as a rock now. I can do anything I want with them. I’m not restrained in any way. There’s just no comparison between how I was before and how I am now.”

The impact DBS has made on Bob’s life is so great that he gladly shares his story during DBS seminars sponsored by Boston Scientific.

“People want to know, What’s the surgery like and does it really work?” Bob relates. “Well, I’ve been through it, so I’m there to tell them what it’s like and that it doesn’t just work, it changes your life. It truly is a life-changing surgery.

“And as far as Boston Scientific goes, the people are the best in the world, in my opinion. I can’t say enough great things about them. The work they’ve done in this field is remarkable. As I said, it’s life-changing.”

To learn more about the procedure, attend one of the seminars listed above and/or visit online at https://www.dbsandme.com.

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

Here’s A Nonsurgical Solution For Knee Pain

Regenerative medicine relieves aching joints without scalpels, steroids or addictive meds.

Regenerative medicine injections have allowed Kathryn to resume her active lifestyle.

By the midway point of her sophomore season, Montclair State University point guard Kathryn Lamastra was playing the best basketball of her career. She was running the offense effectively, defending responsibly and shooting accurately.

Unfortunately, in the time it took to complete a layup, Kathryn’s career was snuffed out.

“That’s the irony of it all,” Kathryn laments. “We were warming up for practice, and all I did was go up for a layup, which I had done a thousand times before. When I came down, though, I tore the ACL and the meniscus in my left knee.”

The ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, stabilizes the knee by keeping the shinbone (tibia) from moving forward past the thighbone (femur). The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between the shinbone and thighbone.

Tears in those components often require surgery, which is followed by weeks, if not months, of rehabilitation. As Kathryn learned, surgery and rehabilitation don’t guarantee the knee will always function properly or feel right again.

Though she eventually returned to the basketball court, Kathryn was forced to undergo two subsequent knee surgeries. As a result, her playing days gave way to a brief small-college coaching career.

Kathryn, 31, has moved on from coaching, but for several years she struggled to move on from the pain that her knee surgeries failed to alleviate.

“Normal daily tasks that most people don’t even think about before they do them, I had to think about,” Kathryn explains. “I’m talking about things like going for a walk, walking up and down a flight of stairs, or just getting up out of a chair or off a couch.

“Riding a bike was another, and that’s a tough one for me because I love outdoor activities like that. I’m also a gym rat, but just about anything I did at the gym or at home caused my knee to ache or throb.

“It was so bad that it sometimes kept me up at night, and one of the worst parts was that it turned me into an ibuprofen taker in multiple forms. I was having to self-medicate, but not in a good way.”

In 2013, following her third surgery, Kathryn took another approach to healing by receiving injections into her knee of platelet rich plasma, or PRP, a blood derivative that includes healing and regenerative growth factors.

The annual injections lessened the pain and provided improved function, but their effects wore off after a few months, and by last year, Kathryn had grown tired of receiving the shots and began looking for a more permanent fix.

State-of-the-Art Treatment

She found it at QC Kinetix, a local practice with a national reputation that offers concierge-level, drug-free, nonsurgical pain management and state-of-the-art regenerative medicine treatments for soft tissue pain, joint pain and musculoskeletal conditions.

As an alternative to surgeries and addictive medications, QC Kinetix treatments trigger the body’s ability to repair itself from the inside out using each patient’s own healing properties, which are found in their blood.

The blood is gathered during a typical blood draw and placed in a centrifuge, where healing properties are separated and extracted. The healing properties are then reinjected into the patient’s damaged tissue or joint. The injection sparks a tissue regeneration that allows the body to rebuild itself over a few weeks or months.

“Regenerative medicine is a great alternative for many people who thought surgery was their only option,” says Daniel Sucherman, MD, medical director of QC Kinetix Suncoast, which has locations in Bradenton, St. Petersburg, Lakeland and Brandon.

After years as a key member of an orthopedic surgical team, Dr. Sucherman recognized the need for a better way to help people in pain. As a believer in regenerative medicine and the positive impact it can have, he chose to meet that need through QC Kinetix.

“I’m an anesthesiologist, primarily for orthopedic surgery, and I know that people who go to an orthopedic surgeon for pain are commonly told they need surgery,” he explains. “And believe me, surgery has its place. But surgery is very strenuous on the body. It involves a lot of cutting, drilling, sawing and hammering, and the recovery process is very arduous.

“What many don’t realize is that in many cases there is an alternative. That’s why I became involved with QC Kinetix. I want to offer people an alternative to surgery, pain medications or steroids for their joint pain. That is exactly what QC Kinetix and its regenerative medicine treatments do.”

Though regenerative medicine is on the leading edge of medical science, it is not a new concept; the most basic principles have been practiced for years. At QC Kinetix, the process has been updated to make it as effective as possible. For example, QC Kinetix uses leading-edge equipment that allows for the retrieval of the most useful healing factors from blood. It can also obtain healing factors from bone marrow.

QC Kinetix works with patients across multiple visits, providing various types of drug-free injections that are customized for each case. Symptom improvement is then monitored for several months while patients experience no downtime. Most patients complete their treatments within six months and go on to live pain-free lives.

“Another thing that sets QC Kinetix apart is that we do all of this in-house,” Dr. Sucherman points out. “Your blood, your tissue never leave our office. And we do all this work while you’re there. When we’re done, you simply go about your normal activities.”

Regenerative medicine can be used to treat arthritis, or muscle or tendon tears almost anywhere in the body, including the knees and shoulders, ankles and wrists, hips, low back and neck. That made QC Kinetix an
excellent choice for Kathryn.

Feeling the Difference

Kathryn Lamastra

When Kathryn first visited the practice a year ago, she was facing the possibility of another surgery to replace her meniscus. She wanted nothing to do with that, so she agreed to the treatment plan offered by QC Kinetix. She’s glad she did.

“I received seven injections over the course of six months from QC Kinetix, and they told me it could possibly take six to 12 months for me to fully feel the effects,” Kathryn reports. “But after just three months, I was already starting to feel a difference.

“What I noticed first was that it didn’t hurt my knee to go up and down a flight of stairs, and I could actually walk for more than a half-mile without my knee beginning to throb. Since then, it’s become better and better.”

Kathryn now takes regular walks of more than three miles, rides her bike comfortably and works out several days a week at a gym, where she recently began doing squats and leg presses with weights.

She hasn’t returned to the basketball court yet but says her knee feels well enough that she would accept an invitation to play. Before visiting QC Kinetix, she would have passed.

“If someone were to ask me right now to go out and shoot around a little bit, my first reaction would not be no,” Kathryn confirms. “And that’s all thanks to the fantastic work they’ve done for me at QC Kinetix.

“I can’t say enough good things about them, and I want to add that every time I went there I got a real good family vibe from everybody. They’re always very welcoming and warm, and that makes you feel good. I highly recommend them.”

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

 

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