Friday, August 26, 2016

New Bones, New Problems

A photo of a newborn baby's clubfoot.
A newborn child with bilateral clubfoot.
Photo credit:
Orthopedic surgery: It’s usually something we think older people go through as the body ages. But there are plenty of children who need this kind of support as well, which is why hospitals like New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) are so important.

Alex Crisses is an HSS Pediatric Council Member, and his own daughter was treated at HSS soon after birth.

Crisses and his wife found out while she was pregnant that their daughter had clubfoot, an inward twisting of the foot. Through their research, they learned that Dr. David Scher, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at HSS, was the best doctor to treat her condition.

“When my daughter was born, the first stop we made was at the Hospital for Special Surgery,” Crisses said.

Dr. Scher carefully explained the process of correcting their daughter’s clubfoot and some of the innovations in orthopedics that would be used during her treatment.

After their experience at HSS, Crisses and his wife decided to become members of the hospital’s Pediatric Council, on which they have served since then.

Innovations in pediatric orthopedic surgery have been helping children across the nation. This subspecialty involves correcting limb and spine deformities such as clubfoot, scoliosis (a sideways curvature of the spine), and limb length differences, as well as broken bones and bone infections, in from birth through adolescence.

Pediatric orthopedic surgeons specialize in working with children and helping them to be relaxed and cooperative during examination and treatment. They have the widest range of treatment options, the most extensive and comprehensive training, and the greatest expertise in working with youth.

They also know about the latest technical developments in the field. 3D modeling, for example, helps surgeons to visualize deformed bone and shape special equipment such as plates and rods prior to surgery.

All the members of the Crisses family, including daughter Blake, are grateful to Dr. Scher and the Hospital for Special Surgery for the great care they received while they were there.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Easy Ways to Incorporate Local Foods Into Your Diet

A photo of several different kinds of vegetables sorted into separate buckets. There is a sign that reads, "Fresh, local, produce."
Photo credit:
Over the past few years, people have become more conscious of the fact that it’s better for the earth when consumers eat locally. It saves gas because food isn’t traveling as far. It’s also helps boost the local economy by supporting small farms. As an added bonus, fruits and vegetables that have been picked at the proper time will taste better than their chemically ripened counterparts. 

The one downside is that eating locally is more expensive, right? Wrong. With a little planning and some research, eating locally can be both healthy and affordable.

An easy way to ensure that you are eating local food is to shop at farmers markets. Many people don't realize that farmers market vegetables are sold at a competitive rate to the supermarket. And if you don’t live near a farmers market? Support stores that label the origins of their food. At the very least, commit to buying items that come from your state. And if your supermarket doesn't have any locally grown/raised food? Make sure that you express your desire for these items to store management. Businesses operate on a supply and demand basis, and for that reason, they are always looking to please customers. Don’t have time to make it to a farmers market or read through food labels? That's understandable, simply order a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) plan. Many local farmers put together weekly or monthly boxes of produce that are distributed directly to consumers, supplying you with fresh, local, seasonal produce.

And if you're worried about giving up fruits that aren't in season during the winter, don’t be. There are plenty of ways to preserve fruits and veggies so you don’t have to buy ones that have been shipped from the opposite side of the hemisphere. Berries are super easy to freeze, as are most fruits. Be careful though, because vegetables should be blanched before freezing. Canning and drying are other suitable options as well.

Don’t forget that you always have the option of growing your own plants. Herbs can be grown in windowsills or on balconies. But no matter what you choose, you’ll find that eating fresh, local produce will be a great addition to your diet.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

An Easy Way to Improve Your Body’s Functions

An infographic of how much water your body needs every day as well as what percentage of various human body parts are made up of water.
Image: Shutterstock

Hydration matters. According to NASA, the human body is about 70% water. In some parts of the world, alcohol or soda are more easily accessible than clean drinking water, but it’s important that every human being is consuming water daily. There is still debate on how much water the average human should be drinking because necessary water intake is dependent on a multitude of different variables including diet, weather, and activity level. The body loses liquid not just through urine, but through perspiration and respiration.

Dehydration starts to have an effect on both the body and the mind once as little as 1% of the body’s water is lost. Losing 2-3% reduces the body’s ability to regulate temperature and reduces energy levels and mood. It will also reduce brain and memory performance. This makes physical activity feel more difficult, and can also affect performance at work or school.

Staying hydrated is beneficial for the organs, too. Dehydration can lead to both constipation and kidney stones. Water ensures that organs are functioning properly and clearing out any unwanted materials and toxins.

Dehydration is also a key component in why most people feel miserable during a hangover. It is the number one contributor to the thirst, fatigue, headache, and dry mouth experienced the morning after intoxication. Alcohol is a diuretic and interrupts communication between the brain and the kidneys. It causes the kidneys to release more water from the body.

Finally, water intake can help regulate food intake. Foods with a higher water content tend to be or look larger. These foods require more chewing and are generally slower to digest. This allows the stomach to feel fuller longer. Drinking a glass of water before meals also helps the stomach feel fuller. This regulates hunger pangs and can help with proper food intake.

In conclusion, whether you are an athlete, watching what you eat, or trying to improve your performance at work, making sure you are hydrated is a quick way to ensure that you are helping your body perform at its best.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Man Who Had No Heart

Stan Larkin lived for 555 without a heart.
Image: Shutterstock
It’s a story that sounds like science fiction, but it’s true: a Michigan man lived for 555 days without a heart. Stan Larkin, a 25-year-old from Ypsilanti, had his real heart removed in November of 2014, but there wasn’t a heart to replace it. Instead, Larkin received an artificial heart, called a “Freedom Driver,” whose power source he carried with him in a backpack. The artificial heart allowed him to live a mostly normal life at home so he didn’t have to wait in the hospital for a transplant.

Larkin didn’t know anything was wrong with his heart until nine years ago. He suddenly collapsed while playing basketball, and doctors discovered he had a genetic heart condition called arrhythmogenic dysplasia, which causes arrhythmias and failure on both sides of the heart. This condition occurs when heart muscles stretch and enlarge at least one heart chamber, so blood can’t pump the way it’s supposed to.

Larkin’s brother, Dominque, also has the condition. But while Dominique only had to use his artificial heart for six weeks before he received a transplant, Larkin had to wait much longer. Doctors decided that because Larkin was doing so well with the machine he could leave the hospital with it to see if he could live an ordinary life.

“I was shocked when the doctors started telling me that I could live without a heart in my body and that a machine was going to be my heart. Just think about it—a machine,” Larkin said. The machine Larkin took home with him included chambers and four valves, like an organic heart. Two tubes that exited Larkin’s body under his ribcage connected the device to a 13-pound power source called the Freedom Driver, which was carried in the backpack.

The machine both powered the artificial heart and delivered compressed air into its ventricles so that blood could be pumped through the rest of Larkin’s body. Larkin says that the device felt just like a real heart. “It’s just in a bag with tubes coming out of you, but other than that, it feels real,” he said. The device had to be replaced about ten times because Larkin was living such an active life.

Larkin was able to have a successful heart transplant 555 days since the Freedom Driver was implanted. He is doing well and recovering quickly, and he’s glad to be healthy again. Larkin’s situation is very promising for other people waiting for transplants.

“I think there’s good science here, and there have been really great advancements in this area,” said Dr. Laman Gray, chair of cardiovascular surgery at Jewish Hospital at the University of Louisville. “We’re making great progress, and people are living normal lives. There’s definitely a place for total artificial hearts and a need for them.”

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Duracell Launches “Stay Connected” Campaign to Help the Hearing Impaired

duracell stay connected campaign
Duracell's "Stay Connected" Campaign will help the hearing
impaired and their families.
Image: Shutterstock
I have always loved language and communication; it's the reason I majored in English and minored in Spanish. It's the reason I have dabbled in other languages over the years, and the reason I have always wished I had been brought up in a bilingual home or a country where learning a second language at a young age was required.

Our brains are amazing things; as we grow older, we absorb the languages we are surrounded with, somehow making the connection between the words spoken or signed and what they represent in our world. Simply amazing.

But what would you do if you suddenly found yourself losing your hearing, your ability to understand what others were saying? Or worse, what if your hearing was completely lost? My dad, who struggles with Minnear's disease, is almost completely deaf in one ear, with additional hearing loss in the other. He's had years to adjust, but I can still clearly see how much it impacts him every day.

Recently, he was finally able to get a hearing aid, which has improved his quality of life vastly. He likes to joke that now he can turn the sound on or off, depending on whether he wants to hear what's going on. The smile on his face tells me that he is so relieved to finally be able to hear clearly again, to participate in all the little conversations going on at a noisy restaurant, to hear his granddaughter when she calls his name softly.

Unfortunately, not all people have access to the kind of care my dad has been able to get. Fortunately, Duracell has a new program that aims to help people struggling with hearing impairment and their families. “Stay Connected” wants to make sure that hearing-impaired people don’t miss out on anything in life. The campaign will offer 10,000 free hearing screenings until June 26th, helping people determine if they have hearing loss and what they can do to work with it so they aren’t kept from special moments in their lives.

Hearing loss is associated with other health problems, like depression, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. I know all too well the feeling that my hearing-impaired loved ones are drifting away from everyone because they can’t participate in events the same way. Duracell, whose board of directors once included KKR co-founder Henry Kravis, published a very touching video ad for the program that features a father drifting away from his family. The video definitely gets the importance of Duracell’s mission across clearly: if you live with hearing impairment, there’s help for you and your loved ones.

“We didn’t want the hearing test itself to be the obstacle for anyone currently suffering and not being treated,” said Peter Gorzkowski, Director of Marketing and Commercial Operations at Duracell. “So we made it as simple as possible and are proud to be providing over 10,000 free tests.”

About 48 million Americans and 3 million Canadians have hearing loss, and only 20% of those over 65 seek help for it. Millions of people are left untreated—too many! According to Dr. Marshall Chasin, AuD, hearing loss is the “second most prevalent health issue globally. The number of people with hearing loss is more than those living with Parkinson’s, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes combined.”

Duracell, which already manufactures batteries for hearing aids, helps people find licensed audiologists and other resources through its website. The website connects users with doctors and hearing professionals in their area, as well as other people and families also struggling with hearing loss.

This powerful program has the potential to change and improve the lives of millions of people around the United States and Canada. If you or someone you love needs help with their hearing, check out the “Stay Connected” campaign to see if it can help!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Attitude Adjustment: Strong Mental Habits to Live By

I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about attitude and how it impacts success. Many times, our personalities and individual histories play a big role in determining how we view the world and the work we do. But I’m also a firm believer that we each have control over how we think about and carry out our work.

We choose our attitudes, the way we approach and react to situations. And though we might not necessarily be able to change our default settings with the snap of our fingers, we can most certainly train ourselves to question those defaults in the interest of personal growth and improvement.

In the past several years, I’ve gone from being a college student to an intern to an educator to a manager at a small tech company. I’ve had the chance to see a lot of different attitudes in action and evaluate my own attitude as well. Here are some of the most pointed things I have learned along the way about how we can improve our attitudes, stop harmful mental habits, and give ourselves the best chance of success:

Stop trying to please everyone. You cannot please everyone – so don’t beat yourself up when you aren’t able to do so.

Don’t let others have power over your mental state. Instead of blaming your boss for your “making you feel [insert negative emotion here],” recognize that you are in control of your emotions. You always have a choice in how to respond. Don’t give anyone else that power.

Don’t dwell. Don’t start work on a new project with a bad attitude because the last time didn’t go so well. Don’t hold a grudge against a coworker. Do what you can to influence the outcome of situations, but don’t dwell on things you can’t change.

Learn to compromise. Have an open mind. Assert your opinions and ideas, but recognize when you need to do something someone else’s way. Maybe they’re your boss or your simply outnumbered. Shrug, accept it, and move on. Leave the bitterness at home.

Be humble and forgiving. Hold yourself and others accountable, but don’t create a toxic culture of guilt or fear when something goes wrong. Because it will go wrong, for you or someone else. Set high standards, but never put yourself on a pedestal.

Be patient. Patiently persist, refuse to give into learned helplessness, and do tasks that are hard for you just so you can get better at them. You don’t have to smile while you do it, but don’t be angry at the world, either. Growing is a painful, slow process.

Stop groaning. Of course work isn’t always fun. In fact, it’s frequently not fun, and most of us would rather be doing something else. But please don’t torture yourself and others by constantly talking about how bored or unhappy or sick of work you are. That leads into…

Find a way to stay positive (or at least neutral). If you fail, think about what you learned. If a client is stressing the team out, commend each other on how you came together to solve a problem. Look for the positive in everything, not the negative.

Face the situation. Swallow your panic, your fear, your instinct to avoid confrontation. Fix issues as soon as possible—before they get worse. Force yourself to be objective and open-minded during confrontations, not ruled by your emotions.

Question entitlement. Listen to me carefully: You. Are. Not. Entitled. To anything. In the professional, adult world, we all must earn our keep. Sometimes that means giving things time to grow, or making less pay than you want so that you can gain experience, prove yourself, and learn how to advance your career. Absolutely try to find a workplace that appreciates and values you, but don’t ruin your chance to grow because you are too busy feeling entitled to something better. If you’re very lucky, you’ll get your dream job right away and that will be that… but if you’re like the rest of us, you’ll need to take some baby steps in between.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Easy Tips for a Healthy 2016

Life is short... so why not be happy? Make 2016 your best year yet.
It can be easy, in the wake and wash of time, to forget how to be happy. It often seems that we have too many priorities that don’t play well with our own well-being, and we ignore our physical and emotional needs to our own detriment. But as the new year opens, there are a few small things we can do to make sure we’re getting the most out of 2016. For a healthy, more rewarding life, think about some of these ideas and how they could improve your year.


Learn when to let go.

If you are like me, you sometimes ove-ranalyze things and hang on to them much longer than you need to. I want to stop doing that and find the right time to remove something from my thoughts. Remember that holding grudges and bearing ill will towards other people really doesn’t do anything—not for them, and certainly not for you. You can’t change other people and many situations are simply going to be outside your control. And that’s okay. If you find yourself becoming worked up about something that isn’t worth your energy, try focusing that energy on something positive: learn a new skill, write it down and throw it away, or engage in a creative outlet you enjoy. Just get it out!


Do more with your day.

As much as I hate to admit getting up early is a key to success, it is. To get the most out of the year, start with each day! Get up early and give yourself time to do chores, relax, read, or eat a good breakfast before you head out the door. Instead of lounging on the couch after work, do a bit of volunteering. You’ll have more time to get things done and you’ll feel less stressed about doing them.


Make time for the people and activities you love.

I need a lot of time to myself to feel energized, so I always try to schedule time to hang out with me (I’m very good company). I take myself to a movie or dinner or just relax and do other things I like to do, like read or cook a big meal. Those things might not be right for you, but think about what things make you feel energized and happy. Is it hiking? Is it video games? Whatever you like to do, leave yourself time to do them every week. It’s even better if you bring a loved one along or plan a time to catch up.


Eat real food.

There’s something tremendously rewarding about eating a meal you cooked yourself. Make a concerted effort this year to eat well. I don’t mean you need to cut out all junk food forever or force yourself to eat only Swiss chard, but stepping up your nutrition game and eating better will make you feel better. I could never give up my crispy Pop Chips, but I will supplement them with a side of garlicky spinach!