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Treating the Whole Trauma Patient

Motor vehicle accidents. Gunshot wounds. Workplace accidents. When we think of a trauma patient, the intense physical recovery from their injuries is what often comes to mind. And while treating those injuries is of great importance, a full recovery is much more complex. In order to treat the whole trauma patient, we must also consider the mental and emotional side of trauma.

Trauma can be defined as any life-threatening event or a psychologically devastating event that can affect a person’s ability to deal with it, or affect their coping mechanisms. This can be very overwhelming for the patient, which can hinder their recovery.

Or worse.

People who have experienced trauma are 15 times more likely to commit suicide. It is imperative that people who have experienced a traumatic event get the support and guidance that they need from those around them.

A treatment plan that works with the trauma patient and their family to address these concerns is critical to achieving the goal of returning the patient to their community.

Patients who have experienced trauma often struggle to understand what happened to them. They wonder “why me?” and may struggle with communicating effectively. This can lead to outbursts, mood swings, and different behavioral patterns. Understanding this and adapting their treatment plan accordingly is key to their recovery.

If you or your loved one has experienced a traumatic event, please speak with your care team to ensure you receive the support and resources you need.

Kelsi Clark, RN is a nurse supervisor at Vibra Hospital of Denver. A graduate of Concorde Career College, Kelsi is very passionate about nursing and began her career at Vibra as a CNA. Kelsi and her husband love to spend time with their family, especially outdoors, and have another baby on the way.

 

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Tips to Stay Safe This Summer

Summer brings many fun activities for us to enjoy, such as swimming, barbecuing and gardening. But along with the sun and fun comes certain safety concerns. Here are some tips to stay safe this summer.

Stay Hydrated

Hydration is important for all ages, but especially for small children and older adults. The summer heat and humid conditions make it easier to become dehydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Water and sports drinks hydrate you much better than sodas.

Sun Safety

If you are going to be exposed to direct sunlight, take steps to prevent sunburn. Sunburn can be not only painful, but dangerous, as well. Take care to select the right sunscreen. Look for one that is waterproof and at least 15 SPF. If possible, apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure. Cover all areas that will be exposed, including the scalp and lips. Reapply the sunscreen every 2-3 hours or more frequently if you are swimming or sweating.

Water Safety

Enjoying the water, whether in a pool or natural body of water, is a great way to relax in the heat of the summer. But caution should always be taken when doing so. Never leave a child unattended in the water, and stay alert when watching them. Use life jackets when on watercraft, and only use life jackets approved by the US Coast Guard. Also be sure to keep an eye on changing weather conditions, which can quickly make the water a hazardous place.

Grilling Safety

The summer also brings barbecue season. If you’re on grill duty, never leave your grill unattended. Use long-handled tools to minimize the chance of getting burned. Prevent foodborne illness by keeping your meats below 40°F until you’re ready to grill them. Cook to the recommended temperature, and after cooking, keep them above 140°F. When finished grilling, clean the grill to prevent fires and flare-ups.

Firework Safety

While beautiful to watch, fireworks can also be very dangerous. Always read the directions and warning labels before attempting to light fireworks. Keep a bucket of water or a water hose close by to extinguish any accidental fires. And only use fireworks outdoors, with plenty of space around you.

Mark Prickett is the Chief Marketing Officer at Vibra Hospital of Amarillo and Vibra Rehabilitation Hospital of Amarillo. Mark was born and raised in Texas and joined the Vibra Healthcare team in 2016. He and his wife of 12 years, Erin, have a 9-year-old son named Stoney who keeps them on their toes. Mark enjoys traveling and anything that allows him to spend time with his family.

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What is Aphasia?

 

About two million Americans live with aphasia, but many of us don’t know what it is. So what is aphasia? Aphasia is the inability to comprehend or formulate language. Aphasia is usually caused by a neurological insult, such as a stroke, brain injury, or other neurogenerative diseases, such as dementia. While aphasia impacts communication, it is not uncommon for a person’s intellectual and cognitive abilities to remain intact.

There are three main categories of aphasia: Broca’s aphasia, Wernicke’s aphasia, and global aphasia.

Broca’s Aphasia (Expressive Aphasia)

Broca’s aphasia is also sometimes referred to as expressive aphasia. This is because a person living with Broca’s aphasia will struggle to express themselves. They may speak with just a few words, rather than full sentences. Finding the right word can be difficult. They may also experience difficulty with writing. Broca’s aphasia results from damage to the frontal lobe of the brain.

Wernicke’s Aphasia (Receptive Aphasia)

Wernicke’s aphasia is generally the opposite of Broca’s aphasia. It is often called receptive aphasia, as comprehension is the area of communication most affected by this type of aphasia. A person living with Wernicke’s aphasia may speak well, but what they say may not always make sense. Often times, they do not realize they aren’t making sense. These individuals will also commonly struggle with reading and writing. Damage to the temporal part of the brain is generally the cause of Wernicke’s aphasia.

Global Aphasia

The most severe form of aphasia is global aphasia. With global aphasia, a person struggles with both expression and comprehension. They will speak very few words, understand little of what they hear, and be unable to read or write. People living with global aphasia often have damage in both the frontal lobe and the temporal part of the brain.

Diagnosing and Treating Aphasia

Most often, a person’s physician identifies difficulty with language first. The physician then refers them to a speech-language pathologist. The speech-language pathologist will perform a comprehensive examination to determine the extent of the impairment. Treatment varies depending on several factors, including what region of the brain is damaged and the patient’s individual needs. The sooner treatment begins, the more effective it is.

Jessica Garcia is a speech-language pathologist at Laredo Specialty Hospital and Laredo Rehabilitation Hospital in Laredo, TX. Jessica holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Texas State University and a master of science in Speech-Language Pathology from Texas A&M Kingsville. She is also certified in VitalStim®, a therapy designed to treat dysphagia. Jessica is passionate about her profession because of the difference she is able to make in the everyday lives of patients throughout their lifespan.

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Treatment for a stroke often involves inpatient rehabilitation

Treatment and Recovery from Stroke

Treatment and recovery from stroke will vary from patient-to-patient. Some of the factors that will determine your treatment include the type of stroke, its location and effects, and your individual goals for recovery.

How are different types of strokes treated?

The two main types of strokes are treated differently. There are three main treatments for ischemic strokes. They include clot-busting medication (such as tPA), anticoagulants (such as warfarin), and surgical procedures (such as carotid endarterectomy, angioplasty, or stent placement). Hemorrhagic strokes are treated with surgical interventions and/or endovascular procedures, such as coiling or clipping. This is where the “T” in F-A-S-T becomes important. Receiving treatment quickly minimizes the damage done by the stroke.

Inpatient rehabilitation for stroke recovery

If you have had a stroke, participation in a rehabilitation program will aid in your recovery. In an inpatient rehabilitation hospital, you receive care from a physician-led multidisciplinary team. These teams are usually comprised of physiatrists, rehab nurses, case managers, dietitians, pharmacists, speech, occupational, and physical therapists and YOU. Each team member has their own role in your recovery. But as a team, they will be responsible for ensuring that you and your family are properly educated. You will not only learn what a stroke is, but how to prevent another stroke in the future. Your therapists will rely on the principles of neuroplasticity to optimize your recovery while you are in inpatient rehab.

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections. The brain can compensate for the damage caused by a stroke by reorganizing and forming new connections between the neurons that are still intact. In order for those connections to form, they must be stimulated in the proper fashion. This is where therapy will play a vital role in your recovery.

Meet your therapists

Your physical therapist will assess your overall ability to move and how you keep your balance. He or she will help you improve your ability to stand up, sit down, walk and maintain your balance. This will be done by leading you through exercise and repeated practice of functional mobility.

Your occupational therapist will assess your ability to complete your activities of daily living, or ADLs. ADLs are activities such as bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, writing, and cooking. You will learn techniques to succeed in your ADLs and regain as much independence as possible. This is accomplished by addressing fine motor coordination, upper body strength, endurance, and balance. Your OT will also teach you the use of adaptive equipment and compensatory strategies.

Your speech therapist will assess your communication, cognition, and ability to swallow food and water. He or she will help you improve your ability to communicate and remember and process information. You will also learn to problem solve through practice and compensatory strategies. If there are changes in your swallowing function, your speech therapist will complete a swallow study and can recommend a modified diet, if needed.

Monika Pawar, DPT is the Lead Physical Therapist at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Northwest Ohio. Monika has practiced physical therapy for 12 years in multiple settings, including day rehab, skilled nursing, and home health, however, her passion remains in inpatient rehabilitation. During her free time, Monika likes to hang out and laugh with her amazing work family and explore National Parks and eat good food with her beloved husband, Jim.

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Types of Strokes

A stroke occurs when there is a blocked or burst blood vessel in the brain, cutting off blood flow. However, not all strokes are the same. The location and type of stroke will impact how a patient is affected, as well as how they are treated. What are the different types of strokes?

Ischemic Stroke

Ischemic strokes are caused by a blockage in the blood vessels to the brain. The blockages in the blood vessels can be caused by a thrombus. A thrombus is a blood clot at the site of a fatty deposit lining the wall of a blood vessel. They may also be caused by an embolus. An embolus is a traveling particle (clot or debris) that is too large to pass through a small blood vessel. This accounts for approximately 87 percent of all strokes. Ischemic strokes are the most common type of stroke.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by a burst or leaking blood vessel in the surrounding brain. Blood accumulates in the surrounding area where the blood vessel burst or ruptured, compressing the brain tissue. There are two types of weakened blood vessels that usually cause hemorrhagic strokes: aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). An aneurysm is a weak area in a blood vessel that usually enlarges. This is sometimes described as a “ballooning” of the blood vessel. AVM is a cluster of abnormally formed blood vessels, any one of which can rupture, causing a bleed in the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes account for approximately 13 percent of all strokes.

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

A transient ischemic attack is often referred to as a “mini-stroke.” This is caused by a temporary clot. Although TIAs do not cause permanent damage, they may signal a full-blown stroke in the future. Up to 40% of people that have had TIAs will go on to have a stroke.

Other Types of Stroke

Additionally, you may hear of a few other terms used to describe a stroke. A cryptogenic stroke is simply a stroke with an unknown cause. Strokes can also sometimes occur in the brain stem. These strokes can be difficult to diagnose, as they often have more complex symptoms. There are three areas of the brain stem where a stroke may occur: the midbrain, the pons, and the medulla.

Monika Pawar, DPT is the Lead Physical Therapist at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Northwest Ohio. Monika has practiced physical therapy for 12 years in multiple settings, including day rehab, skilled nursing, and home health, however, her passion remains in inpatient rehabilitation. During her free time, Monika likes to hang out and laugh with her amazing work family and explore National Parks and eat good food with her beloved husband, Jim.

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What is a Stroke?

According to the American Heart Association, stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States. It is also the leading cause of disability.

The good news? As many as 80% of strokes may be preventable, mainly through lifestyle changes.

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is cut off suddenly. This may be caused by a blocked blood vessel or a burst blood vessel. This abrupt cut off prevents the vital blood and oxygen that a brain needs, and results in brain injury.

The area of the brain where a stroke occurs plays a key role in how a patient is affected. A stroke on the left side of the brain will affect the right side of the body, while a stroke on the right side of the brain will affect the left side of the body. This may manifest as paralysis or weakness, particularly in the arms and legs. Left brain strokes can affect speech and language, while right brain strokes might affect vision. The type of stroke and how it affects the patient will determine treatment and recovery.

Risk Factors for Stroke

Some risk factors for stroke can be treated while others cannot. Treatable risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Tobacco use
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Poor diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity

Risk factors that cannot be treated are:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Prior history of stroke or heart attack

If any of the risk factors apply to you, please consult your physician to determine how you can minimize your risk.

Knowing the signs & symptoms of stroke could save a life!

Recognizing a Stroke

In the event someone is suffering a stroke, knowing the signs and symptoms could save the person’s life and even minimize the effects of the stroke. All you need to remember is F-A-S-T:

     F: Face Drooping

     A: Arm Weakness

     S: Speech Difficulty

     T: Time to Call 9-1-1

Monika Pawar, DPT is the Lead Physical Therapist at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Northwest Ohio. Monika has practiced physical therapy for 12 years in multiple settings, including day rehab, skilled nursing, and home health, however, her passion remains in inpatient rehabilitation. During her free time, Monika likes to hang out and laugh with her amazing work family and explore National Parks and eat good food with her beloved husband, Jim.

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Health Benefits of Dance

From ballroom to hip-hop and salsa to ballet, there are many forms of dancing. And dancing is as popular today as it’s ever been. We love to watch other people dance. Reality shows like So You Think You Can Dance and World of Dance are dominating TV.

But we also love to dance ourselves. Dance is often about creativity and self-expression, but it is also an effective and enjoyable way to get active and exercise! Studies show that dance can help with weight loss, flexibility, balance, and reduce stress. It is also a great way to socialize and make friends! Dancing is a fun way to get active and stay fit for people of all ages, sizes and fitness levels.

What are the health benefits of dancing?

Dancing can help you improve your health in many ways, including:

  • Improving heart and lung condition
  • Increasing strength and endurance
  • Providing aerobic exercise
  • Helping with maintaining a healthy weight
  • Improving coordination and flexibility
  • Strengthening bones and reducing the risk of osteoporosis
  • Increasing confidence and self-esteem
  • Improving balance and spatial awareness
  • Improving general and psychological wellbeing
  • Increased social skills
  • Boosting memory

How to get started

If you are thinking of taking up dancing, be sure to protect yourself against injury by taking the following precautions:

  • Check with your doctor before beginning any new exercises
  • Wear appropriate clothing for comfort and to prevent overheating
  • Do warm-up stretches before you begin a dance session.
  • Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after dancing
  • Make sure you rest between dance sessions
  • Don’t push yourself too far or too fast, especially if you are a beginner
  • Wear properly fitted shoes appropriate to your style of dance
  • Check with your dance instructor that you are holding the correct form
  • Sit and watch new dance moves first. Learning new moves increases your risk of injury, especially if you are already tire
  • Perform regular leg-strengthening exercises
  • Move as fluidly and gracefully as you can
  • Cool down after a dance session, including stretching

There are many different styles of dance, so be sure to choose a style that works best for you and what you would like to accomplish. Consider whether you prefer slow or fast dancing, dancing solo, with a partner or in a group. The most important part is to make sure you are having fun and get moving! There are no wrong moves, just unexpected solos!

Danielle Ball, MOTR/L, CLT, CKTP is an occupational therapist at Gateway Rehabilitation Hospital. She has been an occupational therapist for over seven years with experience in inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, long-term acute care and skilled nursing facilities. She graduated from Xavier University with her master’s in occupational therapy in 2011. Danielle is a certified lymphedema therapist and also a certified Kinesio® tape practitioner.

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Health Benefits of Reading

Reading is one of the most powerful and inexpensive tools we have for improving our health. The health benefits of reading are wide-ranging and span our entire lives. From developing our cognitive abilities as children to frequently reading to ward off dementia as we age, studies show that reading is the best exercise for our brains. Here are three compelling reasons to pick up a book today, no matter your age!

Reading Protects Your Brain from Dementia

Mentally stimulating activities, such as reading a book, can help keep memory and thinking skills intact. Research has shown that these activities can stave off a decline in memory as we age. In one such study, the rate of decline in memory was 32% slower in those that participated in frequent mentally challenging activities versus an average frequency. The difference between average frequency and infrequent participation is even more extreme, at 48%.

Reading is a Powerful Stress-Buster

Many have opined that we are as stressed today as we’ve ever been. While it’s hard to define and measure stress, especially over time, who couldn’t use a little less of it? Fortunately, we have a powerful stress-buster available to us in reading! One recent study aimed to find what activities were most effective at lowering stress levels. Using physical indicators of stress, such as heart rate, the study found reading to be the most effective, reducing stress levels by as much as 68%. Reading silently for just six minutes had a greater impact on stress levels than listening to music, drinking a cup of tea, going for a walk, and playing video games. The good news for those who think we’re as stressed as ever? Millennials take advantage of public libraries more than any other generation.

Reading is Great for Kids & Teens, Too

The earlier we start reading, the bigger impact it can have on our health! Beside cementing a good life-long habit, reading has many short-term benefits for our youth, too. Reading to our children helps to develop stronger parent-child relationships. Additionally, reading helps children develop stronger comprehension and vocabulary skills, which lead to better school performance.

 

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Introducing…Progress Notes: Inspiring Stories of Patient Success

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At Vibra Healthcare and Ernest Health, we are privileged to encounter some of the most incredible people on a daily basis. Our patients face, and overcome, serious health issues, doing so with a fierce and unwavering determination to succeed. In doing so, they inspire us all, each and every day.

We want to share these incredible stories with the world. Because maybe you, too, are recovering from a stroke or amputation or traumatic injury. Maybe a loved one is living with MS or a brain injury or Parkinson’s disease. Maybe you just need a little motivation to tackle whatever you’re facing today.

That’s why we created this short-form podcast called Progress Notes.

Every week, we’ll tell the inspiring story of another individual on the podcast. We hope that these stories make your day a little brighter and help you to believe that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

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Understanding Spinal Cord Injuries

The spinal cord is a part of the central nervous system, along with the brain. Your brain and your body communicate by sending signals through the spinal cord. When the spinal cord suffers an injury, it affects the ability of your brain and body to communicate.

Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries are usually categorized as either traumatic or atraumatic. Common causes of traumatic spinal cord injuries include car accidents, falls, and unfortunately, acts of violence. Atraumatic spinal cord injuries can be caused by things like infections, abscesses or even cancer.

Risk Factors

There are a number of risk factors for spinal cord injury. Men are much more likely than women to suffer a spinal cord injury. About 80% of those who suffer a spinal cord injury are male. Age is another risk factor. Spinal cord injuries occur more often in individuals between the ages of 16 and 30. But there is also a non-demographic risk factor: engaging in risky behavior. Unsurprisingly, this largely surrounds alcohol intake. Consuming too much alcohol increases your risk of suffering a spinal cord injury. Remember, never operate a vehicle if you’ve been drinking.

How are Spinal Cord Injuries Classified?

Spinal cord injuries are classified in a few different ways. One is the level of injury. This ranges from the cervical spine in your neck down to the lumbar spine in your lower back. Injuries can happen anywhere along the spinal cord. The location of the injury will impact how it affects a person. Typically, the higher up an injury occurs, the more impairments you will see. There are nerves coming off the cervical spine that help innervate your arms and your hands. The lower down in the spinal cord an injury occurs, the lower the impairments.

Additionally, spinal cord injuries are classified by how complete the injury is. A complete injury results in the patient having no sensation or motor function below the level of injury. With an incomplete injury, the patient retains some muscle activation below the injury. They may also have some sensation remaining.

Treating a Spinal Cord Injury

Physical therapy focuses on treating the injury with the goal of improving the patient’s mobility. That might mean getting in-and-out of bed or a wheelchair or propelling a wheelchair. Occupational therapy focuses on helping individuals with daily tasks. These include dressing, bathing, and cooking.

Another important component of recovery is working with the patient’s family. Educating and training the family should be a part of any rehabilitation program. This not only helps the patient with their day-to-day lives, but also with preventing the secondary effects of spinal cord injuries.

Taylor Carlson PT, DPT is a physical therapist at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Northern Arizona. Taylor recently graduated from Northern Arizona University with his Doctorate degree in Physical Therapy. Taylor enjoys working and treating all patients and diagnoses, but especially patients with spinal cord injuries and other neurologic conditions. While currently gaining clinical experience, Taylor would like to pursue his Neurologic Certified Specialist (NCS) certification. Taylor enjoys staying active, being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends.  

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