All Posts in Category: Colorado

Resources for Caregivers

There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.” – Rosalyn Carter

Caregivers often hide in plain sight. They make up a substantial portion of the United States population. In the US alone, there are over 40 million unpaid caregivers for adults over the age of 65. We tend not to realize the strain put on an individual who cares for a loved one. Instead, we see only the selflessness with which they provide care. Unfortunately, there’s often more going on than we recognize.

Caring for a loved one can be overwhelming, particularly when providing care for a spouse. It’s important to understand and utilize the resources available to you as a caregiver. Here are some great resources for caregivers:

VA Caregiver Support

If you provide care for a veteran, the Veterans Administration has a number of resources available to you. Services offered include mentoring, diagnosis-specific tips and guidance. Additionally, help is available to care for your loved one so that you have time to care for yourself. Many of these services are provided at no cost.

Diagnosis-specific Support Networks

Many organizations offer online support networks for patients and caregivers, focused on specific diagnoses. These support networks typically have segments dedicated to the unique needs of caregivers. Some of the organizations offering these support networks include:

Local Support Groups

Hospitals often host support groups on a variety of topics. Some are diagnosis-specific. Others focus directly on caregivers. It can be quite helpful to connect with individuals who have had similar experiences to yours. Contact your local hospital to find out what support groups they host and when they meet.

An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.” – Unknown

As a caregiver, it’s important not to neglect yourself. The resources above offer support so that you can care for yourself, too. Additionally, you may speak with your healthcare provider for more resources. Remember, taking good care of yourself is part of providing care to another!

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Employee Health Elevated

Local Hospital Elevates Health of Employees
to Same Level as Patients

With holidays around the corner, this usually means stress and bountiful delicious treats. Local hospital offers convenient yoga classes for their employees and their families free of charge.

Mandie Schake is an occupational therapist at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital. After extensive training she has received her certification to instruct yoga. She wanted to give back to her co-workers that, like her, give so much of themselves to their job of caring for others. Schake said, “As health care providers we tend to put our bodies at risk for injury when working with patients, and the mental/emotional strain is significant in our respective fields.”

Lamar McBride, CEO of Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital and Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital wanted to support his passionate patient caregivers. “All our staff gives physically, mentally and emotionally to their positions.” He wanted to provide bimonthly classes to his staff free of charge. “I want to provide for our employees because it is important to provide an outlet for self-care It is my way to say ‘thank you’ for the care provided to our patients and each other. Every position in our hospital is demanding. It is important for our overall health and well-being to control the effects of stress and take time for ourselves.”

Yoga provides a path that allows you to care for your body, mind, and heart as a whole; be more aware of your body and how you use it in your daily life; while potentially giving you strategies to deal with life’s challenges off of your yoga mat via decreased stress levels. Schake has a different focus each month to provide many resources to the staff.

Deb Campbell, Director of Therapy Services at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital and Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital is participating in the classes after not having done yoga in numerous years. When asked if it was intimidating, Campbell replied, “It can seem intimidating at first, but once you are in the class you realize it is not at all. The instructor adapts the movements to everyone’s level.” She boasts the convenience of the classes being held at lunch or after work in the hospital as, “Having it at work is incredibly convenient. I don’t have to plan extra time into my day.” Campbell reports having a clearer mind and has increased energy.

Schake hopes to open classes to the public in the future, but is focusing on providing for her peers through the end of this year. She encourages all experiences levels and body types to attend and explore the benefits of body, mind and spirit.

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How to Spot a Stroke

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States suffers a stroke. Every four minutes, someone dies.

Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for about one out of every 20 deaths.

As many as 80% of strokes may be preventable. But if someone is suffering a stroke, one of the most important factors is time. Knowing the signs of stroke, and what to do in that situation, could save a person’s life.

All you need to remember is F-A-S-T.

F: Face Drooping

Look at the person’s face. Does one side droop? Do they feel numbness on one side of their face?
Action item: Ask the person to smile. Is their smile lopsided or uneven?

A: Arm Weakness

Does the person feel numbness or weakness in one arm?
Action item: Ask the person to raise both arms above their head. Are they able to lift both arms? Does one arm drift downward?

S: Speech Difficulty

Is the person making sense when they speak? Are their words slurred?
Action item: Ask the person to say a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Can you understand what they say?

T: Time to Call 9-1-1

If any of these symptoms are present, call 9-1-1 immediately. Tell the operator you think someone is having a stroke. Do this even if these symptoms disappear. Time is critical, so it is important to get them to the hospital right away. Be sure to note the time when the symptoms appeared.
Action item: Call 9-1-1!

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Outdoor Enthusiast Returns
to the Great Outdoors

Local Hospitals Return Outdoor Enthusiast to the Outdoors

From mountain biking to hiking to camping, 51-year-old Marty Wood of Lusk, Wyo., spent much of his free time enjoying the outdoors. When he wasn’t racing down the sides of mountains on his bike, he took on another thrilling and challenging task, being a high school principal.

This past April, however, Wood began experiencing heart attack-like symptoms. After being taken to a local hospital for initial healthcare treatment, Wood found out that he had a dissecting aortic aneurysm. He was transferred to Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital in May where he continued to receive healthcare treatment.

“A dissecting aortic aneurysm is a serious and uncommon condition in which the large blood vessel branching off the heart tears,” explains Dr. Gary Pearson, Medical Director at Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital. “This causes blood to surge through the tear, causing the layers of the vessel to dissect or separate.”

Wood was unable to speak when he first arrived due to his condition, so the nurses devised a code system for him so that he could communicate with the staff. “They gave me a voice I didn’t have,” Wood says. “Therapy taught me how to eat and drink again, but the compassion from the staff gave me hope.”

Wood is one of numerous patients who have received treatment at Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital. “Patients are our passion,” Pearson says. “We understand that each patient’s situation is unique, so we work alongside each patient and family to devise a specialized healthcare treatment plan that will work best for them.”

After a few weeks of therapy at the long-term acute care hospital, Wood was transferred to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital for rehabilitation. “I was completely dependent when I arrived back in May. When I came to the rehabilitation hospital, I began to gain my independence back,” he says. “The staff gave me dignity and respect. They all believed in me and my recovery.”

When Wood arrived at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital, he suffered from paralysis, low levels of oxygen in his blood, and kidney failure, all caused by the dissecting aortic aneurysm. He received physical and occupational therapy at the hospital to help regain strength and use of his muscles so he could re-learn how to walk independently and perform daily activities like eating and brushing his teeth.

“The staff got to know me for who I was before my condition,” Wood says. “They learned about how much I loved biking and the outdoors, so they incorporated that into my therapy, having me run through the mud and ride a bike. I was fighting every step of the way on the road to recovery and the staff was fighting right alongside me.”

Wood was released from Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital back in July. He now is independent with the use of a front-wheel walker and hopes to be back on the mountains enjoying the outdoors soon.

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Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital Receives Stroke Recognition

Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital Receives Stroke Recognition from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment

Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital recently was the first rehabilitation hospital in Colorado to be awarded the Stroke Rehabilitation Recognition by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE).

The Emergency Medical Trauma Services Branch of the CDPHE recognizes facilities with STEMI or stroke accreditation from national accrediting bodies. Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital is accredited by The Joint Commission and has earned the organization’s disease-specific certification in Stroke Rehabilitation.

“We’re passionate about patient care and consider it a privilege to provide a higher standard of service in stroke rehabilitation to patients throughout Colorado,” says Beth Bullard, Chief Executive Officer of Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital.

The CDPHE has made the hospital’s information public on its Stroke Recognition Map. The map can be accessed through the Colorado Stroke and Heart Attack Center Recognition web page at www.Colorado.gov.

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3 Tips for Keeping Yourself Flu-Free

It’s that time of year again…flu season. With the constant risk of catching the virus, educating yourself can be the key to being flu-free.

The flu typically is spread when someone who has it coughs, sneezes, or talks. Droplets from his or her mouth spread to the mouths or noses of people nearby. Additionally, you can catch the flu from touching an object that has flu germs on it, and then touching your mouth or nose.

Once flu germs get inside the body, they go to the respiratory system. There, they attach to those cells, essentially turning them into more flu germs. That’s when your immune system begins to fight back. It does so by creating two different proteins that attack the virus – cytokines and chemokines. Cytokines multiply to help fight off the virus. Chemokines create white blood cells (called T cells) to help fight against the virus, as well.

Eventually, the fever that comes along with the flu is your body’s way of killing off the virus.

As it turns out, many symptoms you feel from the flu aren’t the virus itself. Rather, it is your immune system working to fight it off.

While it’s great that your body has the ability to fight the flu, the best defense is always prevention. To keep yourself flu-free, try these 3 tips:

  1. Get a flu shot. This vaccine is the number one way to keep the flu out of your body.
  2. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: wash, wash, wash your hands. When you wash your hands, you wash flu (and other) germs away, limiting your risk of catching them.
  3. Last, keep the surfaces clean in your house to help remove any flu germs.
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Physical Therapy vs. Opioids

Who among us hasn’t suffered the nuisance of a minor pain now and then? Usually, we can find quick relief with over-the-counter medications. But for those with chronic pain, stronger painkillers like opioids may be prescribed.

Americans have increasingly been prescribed opioids – painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin, Opana, and methadone, and combination drugs like Percocet. The use of these prescription drugs has quadrupled since 1999, although there hasn’t been an increase in the amount of pain Americans report.

In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million opioid prescriptions. That’s enough for every adult in the United States to have a bottle of pills.

In response to this growing opioid epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released opioid prescription guidelines recognizing that opioids are appropriate in certain cases such as cancer treatment, palliative care, end-of-life care, and in certain acute care situations – if properly dosed. But for other pain management, the CDC recommends non-opioid alternatives such as physical therapy to cope with chronic pain.

Physical therapy is a safe and effective way to treat long-term pain. Physical therapists can provide evidence-based treatments that help not only treat the pain, but the underlying cause of the pain. They can provide exercises that focus on strength, flexibility, posture and body mechanics. Strengthening and stretching parts of the body that are affected by pain can decrease the pain, increase mobility, and improve overall mood.

So before agreeing to an opioid prescription for chronic pain, consult with your physician to discuss your options for a non-opioid treatment.

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On the Mend!

In early September, Patrick and his wife Julie were washing windows on Sierra Sage Lane. Patrick has washed windows for over 25 years full time, and was confident that his safety line was secure. Unfortunately, the glass his safety line was suction cupped to, shattered, sending him to the pavement 20ft below.

Soon his wife was at his side, as she heard the glass shatter from upstairs. Patrick gives thanks to his wife, the homeowner (a nurse), and first responders for quickly coming to his aid. He also thanks the Emergency team at Estes Park Medical, the Trauma team at Medical Center of the Rockies and Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital.

A fall of this distance could have been fatal, but thankfully Patrick only suffered a shattered left hip and wrist, and a broken nose. Patrick has a few months to go before he can put any weight on his left side. Since arriving home in late September, Patrick is learning afresh, how to get around.

Given the nature of Patrick’s profession, the plan moving forward on how to continue earning a living is far from clear. It may not be until spring before they know for sure if the husband and wife duo will be able to continue the same work.

“We consider all our customers to be friends and appreciate their trust in us. And we know there are many others in our community that we consider friends as well,” says Patrick. “We also want to thank those who heard of the accident and have been praying for us. There is an account set up at Bank of Colorado if you want to help financially.”

Patrick & Julie & Joseph Cramer, 970-213-3409

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Wash the Germs Away

We’ve heard it all before – wash your hands often, especially during flu season. But does hand-washing really keep you from getting sick?

The short answer is, yes!

Washing your hands with soap can kill bacteria and viruses that are spread through individuals or objects such as door knobs. When you don’t wash your hands, little actions, such as touching your mouth, nose, or eyes, can put you at risk almost immediately for an illness, providing the germs access to enter your body.

What is interesting to note, however, is that washing your hands with warm water doesn’t kill any more germs than washing with cold water.

In fact, recent studies have shown that the temperature of hand-washing water doesn’t affect the amount of germs being washed away. The only time that a certain water temperature would kill more germs is if the water was boiling (212 ℉), in which case, it would burn and damage your hands.

So what’s the most effective way to wash your hands?

  1. Wet your hands with water.
  2. Pump soap to a cupped hand.
  3. Lather and rub your hands vigorously for about 20 seconds. Be sure to get in between fingers.
  4. Rinse all soap off of hands.
  5. Dry your hands well with a towel. Germs can be more easily transferred to and from wet hands.
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Fall-Proof Your Home

With falls being the leading cause of injuries in older adults, it’s important to understand how to prevent the common causes.

To help prevent falls at home, consider the following home modification tips:

  • Keep rooms free from clutter
  • Install handrails, raised toilet seats, grab bars and shower mats
  • Light up dark areas of the home
  • Remove or tape down any loose carpets or electrical wires
  • Ensure telephones can be easily reached from the floor
  • Replace chairs that are too low to the ground or difficult to get out of
  • Install night lights throughout the home, especially in bathrooms and stairwells

In addition to home modifications, a change in wardrobe also can help in preventing falls. Wear sensible, non-slip footwear and avoid wearing loose clothing. Make sure to also talk with your family and care providers about your falling risks.

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Local Hospital Helps College Football Player after 9th Concussion

Blake Whitsell of Loveland, Colo., was a talkative, social, and funny guy. That is, until the then 20-year-old suffered his 9th concussion last fall. After that, he couldn’t carry on a meaningful conversation.

Whitsell, who played defensive tackle on South Dakota State University’s football team, suffered his 3rd concussion in a row at football camp last fall; his 9th in his lifetime. The team doctor recommended that he retire from the sport.

Following this concussion, the history and political science major couldn’t remember anything that he studied. “I couldn’t read one line and remember it,” Whitsell says. He moved home and returned to college the following semester. But, his troubles continued.

Whitsell and his parents continued to look for help. Eventually, a neurologist recommended Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital, where he began receiving speech therapy on an outpatient basis.

“I had no idea what I was getting into,” Whitsell says. “I understood what physical and occupational therapy was, but not speech therapy. I just had to trust the process.”

Nearly 1.3 million people suffer from concussions every year, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A concussion is a brain injury caused by a blow or jolt to the head or body that forcibly slides the brain back and forth. The brain, which is the consistency of gelatin, is cushioned by fluid inside the skull. A jarring blow can stretch and damage the brain cells and create chemical changes. It also can lead to bleeding in or around the brain.

“While many of us don’t have to worry about participating in activities that put us at risk for continuous concussions – like football – anyone can suffer one,” says Dr. Revelyn Arrogante, Medical Director of Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital. “There is no such thing as a ‘mild’ brain injury; all concussions should be taken seriously.”

Concussions can cause a variety of symptoms, including drowsiness, confusion, difficulty in thinking clearly, concentrating, or remembering things. Symptoms of a concussion may occur right away, while others may not be noticed until days or months after the injury.

“With long-term effects, a person may look fine, but may act and feel differently without realizing that it’s a result of the concussion,” Arrogante says. “Early treatment of concussion symptoms can help speed recovery and prevent further injury down the road. Ignoring concussion symptoms usually makes them worse.”

“Looking back, I wish I would have known more about concussions,” Whitsell says. “Maybe I would have stopped football earlier. But, I have to say, my football training is what got me through my therapy. It was tough.”

Whitsell worked regularly with speech therapist, Callie Halstead, for three months. She provided Whitsell with meta-cognitive strategy training, which involves “thinking about your thinking” in context of attention, memory, and reasoning exercises.

“I also provided Blake with an extensive home exercise program to help him generalize what we did in our sessions so he could apply it to his daily life,” Halstead says. “He was a fantastic rehabilitation candidate. He did everything I asked him to do, and he quickly saw positive results.”

Six to eight weeks into therapy, friends started to notice Whitsell’s focus was much better, and he was able to once again build relationships and connections with others. As her progressed, he began beating people with “normal” brain scores. He went from a self-proclaimed “C” student to an “A” student, even getting a 97% on his final spring paper.

“I know I wouldn’t have gotten better without therapy,” Whitsell says. “Therapy has given me my life back; it’s helped me in every aspect of my life. While at the hospital, I was treated like a friend, not like I was a patient. I was sad to see therapy end. I call Callie my brain teacher – she gave me a super brain! She’s my hero.”

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Sleep Strategies for Those with Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system that triggers the body’s immune system to attack the brain and spinal cord.

Living with MS can be difficult, especially when some symptoms get in the way of getting a good night’s sleep. Researchers have found that the symptoms of MS, such as stress and muscular stiffness or spasms, can cause lost sleep.

Here are 5 tips to get a better night of rest:

  1. Create a Bedtime Ritual
    Brush your teeth, put on pajamas, read a book or listen to calm music. Creating a bedtime ritual signals the body and mind to slow down.
  2. Hit The Hay At The Same Time Every Night
    Creating a routine helps to set the body’s internal clock.
  3. Exercise In The Morning
    Exercise is a stimulant. If you exercise close to your bedtime, it’ll be harder to fall asleep.
  4. Drink Less Fluids Around Bedtime
    Limit fluids before bedtime to lessen the need to “go.” Also, don’t drink caffeine or alcohol.
  5. Keep Your Bedroom Cool, Quiet and Dark
    Set the tone every night for a comfortable sleep environment.
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How Immunizations Help

Contrary to popular belief, immunization is more than getting a shot from the doctor’s office. So, how does the process of immunization affect your immune system?

In your body, there are white blood cells. These cells have the job of protecting your body from viral infections. When necessary, these white blood cells become a giant army to ward off any unwanted viruses or diseases.

Once a virus has been defeated, some types of white blood cells “remember” the virus, and how to defeat it when it enters the body again.

To create vaccines to a certain disease, scientists use dead or weak strains of the disease. The vaccination gives a body’s white blood cells a “taste” of that specific virus, so they know how to fight it off if that virus ever enters the body.

The vaccine itself does not cause the virus, but it can strongly affect your immune system, because it helps the body fight off certain diseases.

Additionally, by getting vaccinations and living in a community where others get vaccinations, it causes “herd immunity.” This means that members of the community who are too young or too weak to receive that vaccine also receive protection from the disease because it’s unlikely to spread through a group of people who have immunity to the infection.

So immunization isn’t just important for you, but also for the people around you!

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Sleep After a Stroke

Recently, researchers have found that insomnia may be a long-term effect of a stroke. But what does that mean for those who have had a stroke in the past?

Well, simply put, it means that the road to recovery may take a bit longer than expected.

After a stroke, there are many physical, emotional, and cognitive changes in a person. It all depends on what part of the brain was damaged, but frequent physical changes may include dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) or hemiparesis (muscle weakness on one side of the body).

If a stroke survivor develops insomnia, the rebuilding and healing of muscles can’t occur, which can lead to a slower recovery. Additionally, without this needed sleep, individuals may notice more emotional changes (such as crankiness) and cognitive struggles (such as difficulty concentrating).

If you’ve had a stroke and now experience insomnia, there may be options out there for you to get better sleep. These options include meditation and breathing exercises, trying to follow a stricter bed-time schedule (going to bed and waking up at the same time each day), and making sure to keep your bedroom dark and comfortable. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your physician.

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Help a Loved One Diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease

After a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, an individual may feel frightened about what the future holds. Knowing that he or she has a friend or family member to lean on may help make things a bit more comfortable in their changing world. Here are 5 easy ways to help:

  1. Talk About Changes Your Friend or Family Member is Experiencing
    For someone with Parkinson’s disease, it can be scary to realize that tasks that were once easy are now difficult. Just being there for your loved one and talking things through can help provide more comfort with the new symptoms or thoughts he or she may be experiencing.
  2. Offer to Attend Doctor Visits
    If your loved one is okay with you coming along to his or her doctor visits, you can help by remembering specific instructions from the doctor. You also can help your loved one remember any important information he or she wants to share.
  3. Educate Yourself on Parkinson’s disease
    Educating yourself about Parkinson’s disease can show your loved one that you care about what he or she is going through. In addition, it can help you learn how to adjust to your friend or family member’s physical and emotional changes.
  4. Help Make Safety Changes to Your Loved One’s Home
    For someone with Parkinson’s disease, physical changes to his or her body may include loss of    balance and dizziness more frequently. You can help make safety adjustments to his or her home, such as safety rails and chairs in the shower or tub, removing tripping hazards, and tacking rugs to the floor.
  5. Encourage Your Loved One to Start Exercise or Physical Therapy Early
    An important way to help your loved one adjust to Parkinson’s disease is by encouraging him or her to exercise. Certain activities, such as yoga, stretching, and walking, can improve movement and balance. Activities that require memorization of movement can even help improve cognitive development.
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Healthy Eating After a Stroke

A healthy diet is key to recovery after a stroke. But according to the National Stroke Association, 8-34 percent of stroke survivors suffer from malnutrition.

Not eating healthy to begin with has its negative effects. Not eating healthy after a stroke, however, slows down the recovery process and increases the chances of having another stroke.

So, how do stroke survivors eat healthy while trying to manage everything else in their lives? Simply put…eat the rainbow.

Look for foods that are divers in color. You want to try and have a “rainbow” on your plate during every meal: such as fruit, vegetables, grains, meat/poultry/fish, and dairy.

Beyond the rainbow, here are some additional healthy-eating tips:

  1. Never skip breakfast – Breakfast gives you the energy you need to start your day. Plus, you’ll feel fuller throughout the day which means you’ll snack a lot less.
  2. Say “Bye, bye, bye” to your salt shaker – Don’t add unnecessary salt to your foods. Replace salt with herbs and spices like basil or oregano.
  3. High-five high-fiber – Eating high-fiber foods such as beans, peas, nuts, salmon, and grains helps to reduce your cholesterol.
  4. Trick your brain – Have you ever seen an optical illusion that confused you of what you were seeing? Well, that’s essentially what you can do. Start using smaller bowls and plates for your meals to help control portion sizes. Your brain will see that the plate is full, helping to convince it that you are full once you’ve finished eating.
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Tips and Tricks to Help Your Memory

We’ve all had times when our memory has escaped us, and we know how frustrating that can be. Here are some easy tips and tricks to help improve your memory:

  • Tag, You’re It! – Attach new information with what you already know. It’s easier to remember something if you can tag it to something already stored in your memory. For example, you meet a man named Jesse. Attach the Jesse you met with the iconic “Jesse James” since Jesse James is already stored in your memory.
  • Picture Perfect – Picture in your mind what it is you want to remember AND BE DRAMATIC ABOUT IT! For example, your spouse asks you to pick up a loaf of bread after work. Visualize yourself at the grocery store with a gigantic loaf of bread 100 feet long.
  • Repeat, Repeat, Repeat – Go over again and again what it is you want to remember. And repeat it throughout the day.
  • Write it Down– Write things down. Start small by making a grocery list. Summarize important meetings. Keep a journal. Make it a habit.
  • Spend Time with Loved Ones – Being around those you love improves brain function, which can boost your memory, and your mood. It’s a win-win!
  • Make Life a Sing-a-Long – Just like High School Musical, start busting out into song randomly throughout the day. Studies show that singing your favorite songs can actually help improve your memory. Think of it like a “running-start” your brain needs to get going.
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Gender Puts Women More at Risk for Stroke

This past December, 70-year-old Bev Wehrman of LaSalle, Colo., was caring for her husband, John, who was recovering from knee surgery. After handing him pain medication, she headed into the kitchen. John followed after a few minutes when he didn’t hear any noise; he knew his wife wasn’t feeling well that day.

That’s when John found Bev unconscious. He immediately called 911.

Bev was rushed to an area hospital where she was diagnosed as having suffered a stroke. The stroke was significant enough that she was then flown to another hospital in Denver where she remained for two weeks.

In the battle of the sexes, here’s one that women like Bev – often unknowingly – take the lead in: About 55,000 more women than men have strokes every year. Strokes kill more women than men annually, making it the #3 leading cause of death in women.

This gender misconception about strokes is common, according to Dr. Revelyn Arrogante, Medical Director of Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital. “Most people don’t realize that women suffer strokes more frequently than men,” she says. “If you’re a woman, you share a lot of the same risk factors for strokes as a man, but a woman’s risk also is influenced by hormones, reproductive health, pregnancy, child-birth and other gender-related factors.”

For example, birth control pills may double the risk of stroke, especially in women with high blood pressure or who smoke. And, according to the American Heart Association, hormone replacement therapy – once thought to reduce stroke risk – in fact, actually increases it.

A recent study shared through the National Stroke Association listed these factors that have been found to increase stroke risk in women:

  • Menstruation before the age of 10
  • Menopause before age 45
  • Low levels of the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEAS)
  • Taking oral estrogen or combined oral contraceptives

The study also showed a history of pregnancy complications can also indicate higher stroke risk.

These problems include gestational diabetes and high blood pressure during or immediately after pregnancy.

“Add this to other general risk factors for stroke like family history, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, lack of exercise, and being overweight –and it becomes clearer as to why women can be more at risk for stroke than men,” Arrogante says.

Prior to her stroke, Wehrman – who is a retired funeral home reception planner — enjoyed working outside, working with families at the funeral home, and being with her family. “She has a compassionate heart,” her husband says. “She loved helping people at the funeral home.”

After Wehrman’s initial treatment, she was transferred to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital for continued care. Her right side was paralyzed and she was unable to speak.

“Being a chaplain, I had visited patients at the rehabilitation hospital before,” John says. “So when our family physician said we were going to the best place to care for Bev, I knew he was right.” In fact, John says that their niece had been treated for a stroke at the hospital as well back in October. “Bev was so worried after we visited her,” he says. “She thought it had to be hard to have your life change so much. Little did we know it was to be prophetic.”

While at the hospital, Bev received speech, physical and occupational therapy daily. After two weeks, she was able to walk when she was discharged home. She now receives outpatient therapy, but she believes she will have a full recovery.

“It’s been tough,” John says. “They really work her hard, but she won’t stop. She goes above what they expect her to do. They are always smiling, encouraging, positive, and honest. You really need the honesty. They care about Bev as an individual. They care about us as a family. They were concerned about what I was going through as the husband, and even worried about my knee and the therapy I needed. This is so much more than a hospital. The staff really takes time for you as a person. That made a difference for all of us.”

John also says his family was encouraged to be involved and helped a great deal in the recovery process. “I couldn’t think or breathe,” he says. “I had to make so many decisions; my son and daughter helped me take care of things. And, we had a patient advocate that walked us through everything too. That was extremely helpful to have someone who could guide us through what we needed to do.”

As of now, Bev is able to work outside, go on trips, and visit her family. She still has difficulty speaking, but her communication continues to improve.

“I call her a miracle,” John says. “Prayer and her attitude is what got her through this. It’s her strength of character and being strong-willed that has gotten her this far.”

Bev nods her head and uses her limited speech to agree.  “It will be good,” she says.

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Take Steps to Stop Stroke

According to the National Stroke Association, physically active individuals have a 25-30 percent chance of lower risk of stroke than less active individuals. An easy way to incorporate exercise into your day is to walk. You can do it anywhere, it’s free, and it’s low impact so it can help build strong bones and muscles with a low risk of getting hurt.

Here are some tips to take a step in the right direction and get moving:

  • Before starting any exercise program, check with your physician.
  • Start small. Warm up at a slower pace for the first five minutes of your walk; then walk at a brisk pace to get your heart rate up. You should be breathing heavier, but still able to talk. Go back to a slower pace for the last five minutes of your walk.
  • Determine your own length of time that’s comfortable for you to walk at the beginning. Add a couple minutes to your walk every week.

Try to walk at least 5 days a week. Ultimately, you should aim for a minimum of 30 minutes per walk. But, if you can walk longer, go for it. This is one case where more can be better!

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Top 10 Reasons Being in Top 10% Matters to Our Patients

We recently were named in the Top 10% of inpatient rehabilitation facilities from among 870 facilities in the nation.
Here are our Top 10 reasons why we think this is good for our patients: 

10. Consistency.
This is our 12th year in a row of receiving this honor. Year after year, our care has been recognized as patient-centered, effective, efficient and timely.

9. The Proof is in the Pudding.
Our patients and their families can get a sense of reassurance knowing they are in good hands. We are passionate about patient care, and we strive every day to provide the highest level of care possible. It’s reassuring to know that our staff’s hard work and passion is paying off, especially when it’s recognized by an unbiased, third-party.

8. We’re Working with Our Peers to Make Things Better.
Not only for our patients, but for others around the nation. Through the UDSMR, our hospital collaborates with peers throughout the nation to share information and establish best practices for patients, helping to elevate rehabilitative care for everyone.

7. It Makes our Patients Feel Good.
When patients see that we’ve been ranked in the Top 10% in the nation, we hope it makes them feel good about being treated in our hospital.

6. More “Likes” on Facebook.
We know we’re not Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift, but we do love our fans; and we want them to love us. We like sharing good news and like it when others share it too. It always makes us feel good when we hear success stories, especially when those stories are of people being treated here in our community.

5. We get to have a party!
We’re going to celebrate this accomplishment with our patients and friends. We’re looking forward to camaraderie, music, and yummy food – and will probably eat way too much dessert. If we’re lucky, we might even get to see our CEO bust a move on the dance floor.

4. More Publicity, More Community Awareness.
We have a great work family here at the hospital, as our patients can attest. Our patients see our staff’s passion for rehabilitative care every day. As our reputation for excellent patient care continues to grow, the potential for more of our community to learn about our services grows, as well.

3. It Raises the Bar.
We’re like the Michael Phelps of rehabilitative care – top of our game. But there’s always room for improvement. Plus, we like a little challenge, especially if it means greater health care results for our patients.

2. It Brings our Community a Sense of Pride.
In the iconic lyrics of Lee Greenwood, “I’m proud to be an American.” And on behalf of our entire staff, we are proud to be part of some of the top performing rehabilitation facilities in the nation. Those in our community are able to receive some of the highest level of patient care right here in their backyard.

AND THE NUMBER ONE REASON…
1. It Matters!
We’re serious about our commitment to our patients to provide them with the highest level of rehabilitative care available. It matters. To us. To our patients. To our community.

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