Thursday, July 21, 2016
West Nile virus is a term we continue to hear. What is this virus? Is this a local virus? Can this affect my family? These are important questions to have answered.
The West Nile virus has documented cases around the world and first spread to North American in the late 1990s. It has continued to spread across the continental United States as well as Canada. The West Nile virus is mainly spread via the bite of an infected mosquito. A mosquito can become infected when they feed on an infected bird and in turn can infect both humans as well as other animals. While it is extremely rare, the virus could be spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants.
The virus can have varying results on individuals based on their central nervous system. While most people infected with the virus experience no symptoms, those who do may have dizziness, headaches, a rash, muscular issues, body aches and/or intestinal problems. It can cause febrile illness which is when the body temperature spikes. People with the minor symptoms are most likely to have a complete recovery, although fatigue could continue for weeks or even months.
Anyone over the age of 60 as well as those with certain medical conditions are susceptible to a more severe impact. These medical conditions may include diabetes, cancer and those with a compromised immune system. While it is very rare, encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, and meningitis, an infection of the lining of the brain as well as the spinal cord, are neurological illnesses that could result from West Nile Virus. It has only affected about 1% of those infected by West Nile Virus.
People who spend a lot of time outdoors for work or other activities are at a higher risk because of their increased exposure. Wearing long sleeves, long pants and socks could help protect your skin. In addition, insect repellent with DEET could be beneficial as well. At this time, there is not a vaccination for West Nile virus or medications to treat the virus. There are only over the counter remedies to reduce the symptoms for those with mild reactions. Individuals with severe outcomes may need to be hospitalized. Our best defense is to minimize the potential of getting mosquito bites.
According to Dr. Patrick Cody, Medical Director of Norman Regional Health System's EMSSTAT Emergency Services, "Mosquito-borne viruses are interesting because they are an excellent example of how we can impact a disease by prevention measures. If we use public health resources to reduce mosquito populations and decrease mosquito exposure (ie., the "fight the bite" ads), we can stop the disease in its tracks."
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Oklahomans living with Parkinson's can now fight back at their disease with a new boxing program. Through a partnership between Norman Regional Health System (NRHS), The Health Club and the Oklahoma Parkinson's Foundation, two Norman Regional Rehabilitation therapists were able to be trained at the non-profit Rock Steady Boxing Program. The program uses boxing classes and coaches to help improve the lives of those with Parkinson’s disease.
Starting in June, The Health Club will offer Rock Steady Boxing classes every Tuesday and Thursday at 1:00pm. Rock Steady Boxing is a class taught by certified professionals who use a non-contact, boxing inspired fitness routine to improve the ability of people with Parkinson’s to live independent lives. The philosophy behind the program comes from the equipment and exercises used by boxers. Some of the equipment includes heavy bags, speed bags and punch mitts. The goal is to increase core strength, improve balance and posture as well as flexibility and speed.
Rock Steady is a national non-profit that not only has its own gym where classes are taught, but also trains others in their unique program for people living with Parkinson's. Debbie Bennett, an NRHS occupational therapist and Stacy Hyden, an NRHS physical therapist are the two therapists who trained in Indianapolis and became certified trainers in the program.
Parkinson's disease is a brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination. It affects about half a million people in the United States although the numbers may be much higher. Exercise can help people with Parkinson's improve their mobility and flexibility. It can also improve their emotional well-being. Exercise may improve the brain's dopamine production or increase levels of beneficial compounds called neurotrophic factors in the brain.
It is exciting to have such interest in the program which was launched on June 2nd. At a recent open house to educate our community about the benefits of the program, over 50 people were in attendance.
The classes are open to anyone diagnosed with Parkinson's Diseases, however, in order to participate, an initial assessment is required. The Health Club is located at 3720 W Robinson St #124 in Norman. To inquire about the cost of the assessment, class fees or equipment, you may contact Lisa at (405)307-1722.
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
In honor of Father's Day and Men's Health Month, it is the time to bring attention to the importance of prevention and early detection. Now is a perfect opportunity to send out reminders that men need to schedule their regular health screenings as well as follow through with early treatment.
Here are some general guidelines to follow on the frequency of various screenings for men ages 40 – 60. Depending on your medical history, your family history as well as some other factors, you physician may recommend a different schedule for you.
Preventive services can really save lives. Remember these are standard recommendations that need to be altered to meet your specific needs. It is very important to put your health as a priority. Be proactive and stay healthy!
Monday, May 2, 2016
Considering May is Stroke Awareness Month, it is the perfect time to remind everyone of the simple ways to detect any signs and symptoms of a stroke. When someone’s heart stops functioning properly, they may be having a heart attack. A similar term is now used with a stroke. A stroke can be referred to as a brain attack.
A stroke occurs when oxygen can no longer reach the brain. The arteries leading to the brain can be blocked or the vessels may rupture. According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the leading cause of disability as well as the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. We can be a hero and help save someone. The word to know is FAST. It is actually an acronym that represents:
Face – The face is usually relatively symmetrical. If you notice that one side of someone's face begins to droop, this could a sign that he or she is having a stroke. The brain is no longer able to communicate to the muscles within the face and one side starts to hang down.
Arm – If someone begins to have weakness and the inability to maneuver an arm or a hand, this also could be a result of a stroke. You may ask them to raise both arms and see if they are able to control them.
Speech – When an individual has difficulty forming words or proper sentences, this too is a sign that cannot be ignored.
Time – Once a person displays even one of these signs or symptoms, there is no time to wait. He or she needs specialized medical treatment as fast as possible. You should not put them in your car and drive them to the hospital. It is imperative that 9-1-1 is called. The first three hours are extremely critical. A clot-busting medication can only be effectively administered within this short time period. Even if the 3 hour window has been surpassed, it is still important to contact 9-1-1.
Norman Regional Health System (NRHS) has designated as a Certified Stroke Center by the Joint Commission. According to the Joint Commission, this designation has been awarded based on the exceptional effort and best practices unique to patients who have experienced a stroke. They are used to create the opportunity for better long-term outcomes. The ability to provide this level of care should provide our community with peace of mind.
EMSStat is NRHS's emergency medical service that serves Norman, Moore and the surrounding communities. When they are informed of a potential stroke, they begin communicating with the emergency room so that the appropriate personnel are onsite to provide immediate care upon arrival. The clot busting medication is called Tissue Plasminogen Activator or tPA for short. This medication will be administered upon arrival in the emergency room. The faster it is administered, the more brain cells can be saved. According to Tom Gremling, MSN-E, RN, NRHS Stroke Training Center Coordinator at NRHS, "Studies show that early detection and activation of the EMS system is imperative when dealing with stroke. At the time of a stroke event, a billion brain cells a minute are dying off, so remember Time is Brain, act FAST!"
By acting FAST, you can be a hero. You have the ability to save a life or the quality of someone’s lifestyle. Remember: Face, Arm, Speech and Time.
Monday, May 2, 2016
While tornadoes can happen at any time, the prime conditions usually present themselves between late March and August. Considering you may not be together when disaster strikes, to create peace of mind among your family members, it is important to have an emergency plan in place.
Start your plan with contact information. You should write down important phone numbers on a sheet of paper or on a wallet size card. Everyone should carry this card in their wallet, purse or back-pack. It would be helpful to have this contact sheet posted in a central part of your home; like on the refrigerator or a bulletin board. This way, if your cell phone battery dies, you can still be in contact. The card should include the following phone numbers and information.
When a tornado strikes, you may have a better chance of communicating via text instead of phone calls. There are times that a text may go through when you are not able to connect via a phone call. In addition, it frees up connectivity for emergency personnel. It may be easier to reach an out to town/state number which is why it is recommended to have one point person everyone can call/text to keep informed. A text should include where you are located, who you are with, that you are OK and if you need something.
Select a meeting place. You can have one within your neighborhood or somewhere else in town. Discuss ways to get to the meeting places as well. Decide on safe, familiar places where your family can go for protection or to reunite. For pet owners, consider animal friendly locations. According to FEMA, here are examples of potential meeting places.
Social Media is a great place to stay in contact and keep others informed. On May 20, 2013, a friend traveling in Japan at the time of the tornado was able to connect with a quick phone call. Considering, electricity was out in the some of the metro area and phone service was spuratic, it would have been difficult to provide others with a status update. The friend was able to post an update letting people out of town know contact had been made and that everyone was OK.
It is important to practice your plan with your family. Have regular household meetings to review your emergency plans and discuss your designated meeting places. If you have not done it yet, now is a really good time to clean out the storm shelter. If you do not have a storm shelter, identify a safe area within your home. In addition, check the batteries in the weather radio. You want to make sure you have working flashlights as well as candles. Ensure you have back-up batteries.
"Norman Regional knows first-hand the devastating effects of severe weather and the importance of being informed of weather conditions and having a plan in place", said Shane Cohea, Director of Safety and Security at the Health System. During the May 20, 2013 tornadoes, the Health System's Moore Medical Center took a direct hit from an EF-5 tornado. While the building was destroyed, due to the preparedness of Moore Medical Center staff, those inside the building survived without injury.
Norman Regional Health System is proud to become a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador with the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador initiative is an effort to formally recognize NOAA partners who are improving the nation's readiness against extreme weather, water, and climate events. As a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador, Norman Regional is committing to work with NOAA and other Ambassadors to strengthen national resilience against extreme weather.
Norman Regional Health System is holding six training sessions called EF-5 Fridays. The community is invited to learn about the best practices for severe weather. If you have any questions, you can contact our class enrollment line at 405-307-3176.
Join us by "being a Force of nature" and taking actions that can save lives anywhere - at home, in schools, and in the workplace before tornadoes, hurricanes, and other extreme types of weather strike.