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Healthy Living: Hand Grip Strength – Kern Valley Sun

Hand Grip Strength

As we age, it becomes more and more important for us to maintain good hand grip and pinch strength. Our continuing safety and productivity are directly dependent upon trusting both hands for our basic daily living activities. Those patients we treat for physical and occupational therapy are instructed in series of graded exercises in order to help them succeed in restoring strength. But far too often patients report back to us that they are troubled with their inability to comply with those home exercise programs we recommend. They tell us they become busy with other commitments; they have trouble incorporating their exercise routine into their family activities and demands.

Measuring the gradual improvements you make should increase your motivation and satisfaction with the gains you make. It is so rewarding to find yourself being able to resume activities painfree as you regain your strength. Some patients do more than merely comply with the therapist’s recommended programs; they arrange for pre-surgical instructions. The benefits are many. The right handed carpal tunnel surgical release patient trains her left hand to be the lead hand by practicing her basic activities of daily living including applying makeup, hair care, and feeding herself. The added rewards include an increase in speed of performance, faster recovery with her right hand, and becoming ambidextrous.

It’s also important to know that exercising with weights such as barbells will increase your overall arm strength, (shoulders, elbows, and wrists), but you need repetitive grip/release rather than prolonged gripping exercises for the best results. Patients are often told to squeeze a ball for their hand exercise, yet therapists find a far better anatomically fitting position calls for use of an oblong object, a rolled up washcloth, or therapy putty which offers you graded progress beginning with soft, then medium and then hard putty.

You’ll enjoy the satisfaction of regaining your ability to resume that gardening hobby, the raking and gathering of those leaves, your yard all neat and tidy. You need to pace yourself, gradually testing as you progress with your strengthening program. When unloading your grocery bags out of your car, first lift the bag with your stronger hand, then if you judge it to be safe to carry, transfer to your weaker hand. You’ll enjoy the satisfaction of your gradual progress without overdoing it, eliminating your pain and resuming your healthy life routines.

Christine Harness has worked in the field of Occupational Therapy throughout her adult life, both in and outside of the Kern River Valley. She has helped countless individuals to maintain or regain their independence. Christine believes that enjoying and taking satisfaction in one’s day-to-day activities is the key to a meaningful life.

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Scientists say healthy living is much more personalized than you think – WZVN

“There’s so much confusion in health and wellness, and people are jumping from program to program,” Stull explained,”whereas now, we’re giving you the most unique program according to your goals, your body, [and] your DNA on a cellular level.”

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First ‘Walk with a Doc’ event encourages healthy living

People in Sioux Falls laced up their shoes and had the chance to mingle with a local doctor for an event called Walk with a Doc at the Avera McKennan Fitness Center. Walkers learned about the benefits of living an active lifestyle along with the recommended amount of exercise for their age group.

KSFY News caught up with TyLynn and Patrick Klune who said they were glad to participate.

“I saw it on Facebook and we are trying to be more active and more cautious about our health. That is really great that we have someone that we can ask questions,” TyLynn and Patrick Klune said. “Exercise is way better than having to take a medication.”

The Walk with a Doc event featured Avera Family Medicine Physician Dr. Chad Thury. The Fitness Center looks forward to hosting more of these in the future.

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Health & Safety Tips for Thanksgiving

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – Katie Nelson with Mesa County Public Health stopped by the studio to discuss health and safety tips for this upcoming Thanksgiving. She touches on food and cooking safety, as well as tips for staying healthy during holiday travel plans.

For more information you can visit the Mesa County Public Health website.

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Health department offers food safety tips – Petoskey News

CHARLEVOIX — Local Health Departments across Northern Michigan are teaming up with United States Department of Agriculture to provide tips and resources for safe food preparation during the Thanksgiving holiday. With the number of things that can go wrong in the home kitchen, steering clear of food safety blunders can be challenging. A few simple steps can ensure family and guests get a delicious home-cooked meal and not holiday food poisoning.

“Thanksgiving dinner is one of the largest meals we prepare each year,” said Brandon Morrill, food program coordinator for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. “Cutting corners can put your family and guests at risk for food-borne illness, by forgetting a few basic food safety principles, such as washing your hands after handling the raw turkey and using a food thermometer to be sure its cooked to 165 degrees.”

Food poisoning is a serious public health threat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that millions of people suffer from food-borne illness each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Recent USDA research found that one in three Americans may have someone at high risk for food-borne illness in their home.

“Most food-borne illnesses can be avoided if you follow a few simple guidelines,” Morrill said. “These can keep your family and guests safe this holiday season.”

The CDC recommends washing hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. Hand washing is especially important when handling raw meats. However, in a recent USDA study, participants failed to wash their hands sufficiently a shocking 97 percent of the time. Without proper hand washing, a well-intentioned, home cook could quickly spread bacteria around the kitchen.

Stuffers should remember to wash their hands before and after seasoning your bird. Almost half the study participants contaminated their spice containers when seasoning poultry. Anyone that has handled a raw turkey, should make sure to wash their hands completely before seasoning, and if those spices are rubbed on the bird by hand, wash hands completely afterwards.

Do not rinse or wash the turkey. Doing so can spread bacteria around the kitchen, contaminating countertops, towels and other food. Washing poultry doesn’t remove bacteria from the bird. Only cooking the turkey to the correct internal temperature will ensure all bacteria are killed.

Don’t rely on those pop-up thermometers to determine if your turkey is safe. Take the bird’s temperature with a food thermometer in three areas — the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the wing and the innermost part of the thigh — make sure all three locations reach 165 degrees. If one of those locations does not register at 165 degrees, then continue cooking until all three locations reach the correct internal temperature. In recent USDA research, 88 percent of participants did not cook their poultry to the safe internal cooking temperature of 165 degrees.

When stuffing is cooked inside the turkey’s cavity, it must be checked with a food thermometer and reach 165 degrees as well. The density of stuffing can mean that while the turkey’s breast, wing and thigh have registered 165 degrees, the stuffing temperature can lag behind. Undercooked stuffing is a common cause of holiday food poisoning. Turkeys are tricky enough, so it’s easier to keep things simple and cook the stuffing outside the bird.

Everyone loves to graze during Thanksgiving, but when perishable food sits at room temperature, it is sitting in a temperature range where bacteria love to multiply. This range, between 40 and 140 degrees, is known as the “danger zone.” If foods have been left out at room temperature for more than two hours, they should be discarded.

For more information, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at (888) 674-6854 to talk to a food safety expert from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. For help on Thanksgiving Day, the Meat and Poultry Hotline is available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Live chat is available at during the hotline’s hours of operation.

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Simple health tips for busy moms

Simple health tips for busy moms© Brandpoint

Simple health tips for busy moms© Brandpoint

(BPT) – Mothers are the CEO of the home. Organizing schedules, paying the bills, doing food shopping, managing pick-ups and drop-offs, and making sure everyone is healthy is just part of the job. Unfortunately, because they are so busy taking care of others, many moms often put off taking care of themselves or scheduling their own health appointments.

Making your health a priority can help you stay healthy and keep illnesses at bay. Here are a few tips to help:

Sleep consistency

You harp on the kids about the importance of a good night’s sleep, but when it comes to your own sleep, it’s often the first thing that’s sacrificed. Sleep deprivation is common among moms for a variety of reasons. Make it a priority to get 7 or 8 hours of quality rest each night. Keeping the bedroom quiet, cool, dark and free from the distractions of devices such as cell phones and tablets can help you relax and sleep.

Annual physicals

Just like with your kids, proactively seeing a doctor every year can help you tackle health issues head on rather than putting them off until they become a bigger problem. During wellness visits, your doctor will use health indicators like weight, blood pressure and heart rate to screen for common conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Doctors can then recommend treatments to help you stay healthy and feel your best.

Fill prescriptions

Your doctor’s treatment plan may include a prescription medication. Doctors advise that it’s important to fill and use the medication as prescribed. If you are not insured, or if your health insurance plan doesn’t cover the medication you were prescribed, you can check a free prescription savings program called Inside Rx which can help save an average of 40 percent off brand-name and 80 percent off retail on generic medications. Eligibility requirements and a complete list of the medications offered through the program can be found at

Boost nutrition

You meticulously pack your kids’ lunches, but when it comes to your own, sometimes you eat whatever you can grab. Eating well helps fuel the body and mind, so skip the junk and instead eat wholesome meals three times a day with healthy snacks in between. Stock the fridge and pantry with healthy foods that are easy to eat on the go and always have nutrient-packed snacks, such as dried fruit or nuts. Meal planning can help everyone enjoy healthy homemade foods throughout the week.

These simple tips will help you prioritize health as you take care of your family, so you can feel your best today and in the future!

Source: Brandpoint Content

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Engaging Employees in Health Benefit Design Increases Satisfaction With Coverage Options

As open enrollment continues, a new case study from the National Pharmaceutical Council has found that when employees are meaningfully engaged in deliberating and designing their healthcare benefits, they are more likely to have a positive view of their coverage options.

The case study was facilitated by Janet McNichol, SPHR, CAE, the human resources director of the American Speech-Hearing-Language Association (ASHA), in an effort to redesign a benefit option offered at the association. “I wanted to develop a participatory, deliberative approach to learn what employees value the most in a healthcare plan,” she explained, in a statement. “By engaging employees in health benefit conversations, it helped us to better determine how to allocate our healthcare dollars.”

These findings come at a time when more than half of insured Americans are obtaining their health insurance through their employers and are taking on more cost sharing through deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. Between 2006 and 2016, total out-of-pocket expenses for people with employer-provided coverage jumped 54% as wages increased 29%, and annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage rose to an average of nearly $20,000 in 2018.

Between June and December 2017, 171 ASHA employees participated in group discussions using a board game with 12 categories of healthcare services, including maternity, prescription drugs, and mental health, with varying levels of coverage. After creating an individual health plan reflecting their individual coverage needs and preferences, the employees collaborated to design a single health benefits plan for the organization.

During the group discussion, employees were willing to have less robust coverage in areas like dental, vision, and diagnostic benefits so that the group could have access to more comprehensive mental health and maternity services.

“This also suggests how the intensity of preferences of some members of a group for maternity or mental health services may persuade individuals in the group to acquiesce in the reallocation of scarce resources in ways not completely aligned with their individual self-interest,” stated the report.

Among the 3 age groups—young (25 to 45 years old), older (46 to 65 years old), and elderly (older than 65 years)—older employees wanted more mental health, preventive care, and drug coverage, and wanted less provider choice, diagnostics, vision, and dental coverage. Younger employees also wanted more mental health, preventive, and drug coverage, but less so than older workers.

Following the exercise, participants answered a survey regarding their satisfaction in both their individual and group health plans. They also indicated whether they thought coverage was inadequate for any service category, whether they would be willing to pay more for additional coverage and, if so, how much more they would be willing to pay.

Approximately half of employees indicated that they were willing to pay more—roughly $38 per month—for additional coverage in one or more benefit category. Survey results also showed that 92% of employees were satisfied or very satisfied with their individually designed plan, and 83% were satisfied with the group plan.

“Within a broader policy context, employee appreciation and acceptance of tradeoffs are essential to managing overall healthcare spend,” noted the report. “If employees are engaged in the deliberation process, necessary limits on coverage may be more likely to be considered ethical and accepted as legitimate and fair.”

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How Do Wishes Granted To Very Sick Kids Affect Their Health?

While recovering from treatment for aplastic anemia, Tiffany Rowe had her wish granted. She danced on stage with Michael Jackson during his Bad concert tour.

Courtesy of Tiffany Rowe

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Courtesy of Tiffany Rowe

While recovering from treatment for aplastic anemia, Tiffany Rowe had her wish granted. She danced on stage with Michael Jackson during his Bad concert tour.

Courtesy of Tiffany Rowe

Tiffany Rowe, a 46-year-old life coach in the San Francisco Bay area, still remembers how it felt as a teenager to be hoisted onstage to dance with Michael Jackson during his Bad concert tour.

She was 15 and recovering from an excruciating round of treatment for severe idiopathic aplastic anemia — basically total bone marrow failure.

She had met Jackson in his greenroom before the concert, but she had been told that dancing with him — her real wish — wouldn’t be possible.

Until it was.

“I was in front of all of those people, and I could hear the roar, and I was calm,” she recalls. “I was doing what I wished to do. I felt exactly the way I needed to feel, at home and confident in my body. There had been part of me that felt pretty betrayed by my body, and I felt very at peace in my own skin again.”

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The moment was transformative for Rowe, who credits the experience with aiding her recovery. A study published in the journal Pediatric Research suggests her experience may not be unique.

Researchers looked back at the cases of nearly 1,000 children with serious illnesses who were treated at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Half the children had received wishes and the other half hadn’t.

The children granted wishes were substantially less likely to visit the emergency department or to have an unplanned hospital admission within two years as compared with children who hadn’t received wishes. (Researchers matched the children’s personal and disease characteristics in the study.)

“My hypothesis is that these kids, when they come back, are more engaged with their families and medical providers, and perhaps they’re more adherent to their treatment plan,” says the study’s lead author Dr. Anup D. Patel, section chief of neurology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and an associate professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus.

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“What’s harder to quantify is this feeling of hope and having a break from your illness,” Patel says. “It gives them an ability to fight harder, and that’s harder to measure.”

That ineffable feeling is what mattered for Rowe. Her illness had been caught late. She likely wouldn’t have lived another month without treatment, she says. Even with treatment, her prognosis was three to six months.

She lacked a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant, and she was so sick that her doctors didn’t want to risk a potentially fatal transplant rejection. So she received a then-experimental therapy called antithymocyte globulin, today a common treatment for aplastic anemia.

“I remember my mom saying, ‘We don’t know how this ends, but we have to try,’ ” Rowe says. She received her first treatment in the fall of 1984 and entered remission, but she relapsed in the fall of 1987.

“For me, relapse had a deeper emotional toll. I understood what I was headed back into, the pain and uncertainty and fear,” Rowe says. “I felt a bit demoralized, like I had failed. I didn’t want to be sick anymore. I didn’t want to have to survive anything.”

It was around then that a volunteer who had read about Rowe in the local paper visited her and offered a wish. Rowe didn’t hesitate.

“When everyone else wanted to be an astronaut, I wanted to be a dancer and dance with Michael Jackson,” Rowe says. “When he moved, it just stopped time for me. As somebody who felt so passionately about dance myself and so elementally at home in my body while dancing, I just saw that in him and felt a kinship.”

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Joining him onstage gave Rowe back ownership over her body — and her future.

“There was a sense that I was fighting for something, not just against something, and that was incredibly motivating,” she says. “I was surviving to go back and live a full and extraordinary life — not that I knew that would happen, but I could give myself permission to believe it was possible.”

To qualify for a wish, a child must have a life-threatening, but not necessarily terminal, condition, says Jamie Sandys, a spokesperson at Make-A-Wish Foundation. The foundation has more than 60 U.S.-based chapters and has granted more than 300,000 wishes since 1980.

The organization granted approximately 15,400 wishes last year, Sandys says. Still, an estimated 27,000 children are diagnosed annually with an illness that qualifies them, which concerns Sandys. “There’s a huge gap that we’re trying to fill,” Sandys says.

Many past wish recipients have said the wish was an important part of their healing process. “These wishes can really be a springboard to help these children in overcoming their illnesses and producing better health outcomes for them,” Sandys says.

But verifying and quantifying those outcomes is difficult.

“It’s wonderful to have randomized controlled trials and measurable outcomes, but when you’re looking at mind-body-spirit connection in medicine, we’re not going to have the luxury of those outcomes,” says Dr. James Fahner, a division chief for pediatric oncology at the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich. Though not involved in the study, Fahner is the immediate past chair of the Make-A-Wish America Medical Advisory Council.

“I’m fundamentally a scientist, and I expect reasonable, reproducible metrics when I’m deciding on the validity of a particular cancer therapy, yet when I walk down the hall in that same clinic and see a child who has just returned from a wish, I see positive impacts like stronger adherence to therapy, family resiliency and hopefulness in the child,” Fahner says. “The connection of mind-body-spirit can be hugely important, especially in a child going through such a rigorous and long therapy.”

A previous study tried to measure the effects of wish-granting and found less distress, fewer episodes of depression and reduced anxiety symptoms among children expecting a wish in the near future compared with those placed on a waiting list.

This new study found more concrete differences, including cost savings. The average cost of a wish is $10,682, but multiple unplanned hospitalizations cost more. The study found that twice as many wish recipients had reduced health costs compared with people who didn’t receive them.

Patel was inspired to conduct this study after seeing changes in his own patients and before he joined the organization’s medical advisory council. He had one 15-year-old boy with intractable seizures return from meeting the Los Angeles Clippers and never have a seizure again — a dramatic if rare and unlikely outcome.

But Patel is also a scientist who believes in evidence. He knew his study would be scrutinized by others who doubted “that something as wishy-washy as a wish could make a difference.” He chose to measure use of health care services because it is quantifiable in a way that “wellness” isn’t.

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All the children were treated at the same hospital by the same medical teams, though it’s unclear why some received a wish and some didn’t.

The researchers used medical records to identify 496 children who received a wish and compared them with 496 others with the same approximate age, gender, disease category and disease complexity. The distribution of private insurance, no insurance or Medicaid was also similar in both groups.

Cancer was the most common illness — at 45 percent — among the children studied. After that, the most frequent conditions were blood-related/kidney (16.5 percent), neurological (14.5 percent) or genetic (14 percent). The breakdown is consistent with national figures: 45 percent of Make-A-Wish recipients have cancer and 13.5 percent have a nervous system disorder, Sandys says.

The researchers found that wish recipients were 1.9 times more likely to have fewer emergency department visits and 2.5 times more likely to have fewer unplanned hospitalizations in the two years after their wish was granted, compared with matched children.

The study is observational, so it can’t show that receiving a wish caused better outcomes since other factors may have affected the results. But many health care providers see change in their patients after wishes are granted.

“More positivity can sometimes be correlated with treatment adherence,” says Ashley Andrews, a social worker at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. Andrews wasn’t involved in the study but has connected children diagnosed with cystic fibrosis to Make-A-Wish.

The excitement of a wish can change a family’s and child’s outlook enough that they may work harder with their medical providers, she says. “If their adherence has improved, obviously that would decrease the emergency department visits and hospitalizations.”

But it’s also possible other factors affected emergency visits and hospitalizations in nonrecipients, such as the reasons some children didn’t receive wishes. Perhaps they weren’t well enough to travel and weren’t interested in nontravel wishes. Perhaps parents turned down a wish if they felt another family deserved it more.

Andrews also cautioned against too much optimism about the findings. “These kids still have a chronic illness and have to go through a lot of obstacles that you and I don’t have to go through,” Andrews says. “That’s their reality, so I don’t want people to think that just because these kids have Make-A-Wish that everything’s fine.”

Dr. Arthur Lavin, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, says the findings make sense to him, too. But he also cautions that a child’s worse health outcomes aren’t a “failure” of the wish or of positive thinking.

“We like to think you can only have improved health if you have an expensive medication, and those things can be critical to help, but being kind and caring to someone has an amazing impact on [their] health and well-being,” Lavin says.

But the measurement of the effect of kindness isn’t entirely clear or predictable, he notes. Even if such effects aren’t as quantifiable as other therapies, Patel sees their value in less quantifiable terms.

“I recognize on a daily basis that I’m not going to help get seizures gone in a majority of cases with traditional interventions, so I’m always looking for ways to help families beyond treatment,” Patel says. “Even if it’s just making a kid happy for a couple of weeks, that’s sometimes better than any medicine I can give them.”

Tara Haelle is a freelance health and science writer.

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Do Not Eat Romaine Lettuce, Health Officials Warn

This strain is especially dangerous, health officials said, and the toxins it gives off can damage the kidneys. In the current outbreak, half of those infected have been hospitalized, a rate that is much higher than in other E. coli outbreaks, said Matthew Wise, the C.D.C.’s deputy branch chief for outbreak response.

Steve Feldberg was standing in his kitchen Tuesday in Montclair, N.J., preparing dinner and feeling stymied. He pored over the lettuce he bought over the weekend at the local farmer’s market. “I think it’s romaine,” he said hesitantly. “But it’s not classic romaine. So we’re taking a picture and emailing it to the hydroponic farm to find out, before we eat it.”

Health officials had some other worrying news for Thanksgiving week. The C.D.C. and the United States Department of Agriculture have been tracking a yearlong outbreak of Salmonella, which has been linked to a variety of raw turkey products, including ground turkey and some live turkeys (also some pet food).

A spokesman for the U.S.D.A. urged consumers to prepare turkey by following precautions such as careful hand washing to avoid cross contamination, and cooking poultry thoroughly.

Determining the exact cause of food-borne outbreaks has long stymied investigators, especially those that affect leafy greens. Contamination often originates with livestock that are raised or fed near produce farms. But it is not always clear how the pathogens travel to fields of vegetables. Scott Horsfall, chief executive officer at the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, an industry group, said the E. coli outbreak of last spring prompted growers in Arizona and California to embrace ramped up cleaning of equipment and they agreed to triple the distance between cattle feed lots and lettuce farms. “E. coli and other pathogens don’t spontaneously appear in lettuce fields,” he said. “They have to come from someplace else.”

But some public health experts said the frequency of food-borne illness outbreaks points to the need for bolder action by both the industry and federal government, especially when it comes to tracing contaminated produce.

Sarah Sorscher, deputy director of regulatory affairs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer group, said the industry has resisted more robust measures like the mandatory electronic tracing of produce after it leaves the field.

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How Democrats Finally Won with Health Care

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