News/Blog

Jim Peterson

Jim Peterson is a retired ENT physician who lives in Greeley, Colorado. Jim, 80, loves to read, walk, cook (especially bread), listen to music, and play the banjo. Jim also finds joy in being with his family, including his wife of 57 years, Sylvia, his children, and five grandchildren.

After undergoing back surgery (an elective L4-5 fusion), Jim entered a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation. While there, he suffered a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), or stroke. This led to weakness on his right side, known as right hemiparesis.

Both his friends and the staff at the acute care hospital told Jim that Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital has the best stroke program. Trusting their recommendation, Jim admitted to NCRH to his recovery.

“Day-to-day this has been a rollercoaster ride,” Jim said of his recent medical issues, “but it is so important to turn a negative experience into a positive one. It takes gradual baby steps that you notice over time to see improvements.”

Jim also recognizes that Sylvia’s support and setting goals were critical in staying focused. “My recovery was most influenced by my wife and my desire to continue my hobbies,” he noted.

Jim Peterson with his wife, Sylvia. Sylvia’s influence was key to his recovery from a stroke.

Sylvia explains further, “his motivation for recovery is his philosophy in life. That means his hard work ethic, hardly complaining, and knowing as a physician that there are consequences if you stop trying.”

“At Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital, I felt I was working with a team and not for them,” Jim said, reflecting on his stay. “The staff was wonderful. They developed rapport with me and this was helpful in many ways.”

“Success is all about achieving modest goals,” Jim stated. “Those goals for me are to get back to playing the banjo again, becoming more ambulatory, standing for longer periods of time to cook, and of course making bread again!”

“Jim never stops working hard at improving,” Sylvia said, adding, “he even does exercise in bed!”

 

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Gary Lauer

“This will be my new normal, but sure couldn’t have done it without all my family and friends.”

Gary Lauer adored retired life. He spent lots of time with his spouse and grandson, went on lots of family vacations. Gary especially loved being outdoors. Gardening, mowing, hunting and fishing were all pleasurable activities for Gary.

Forty years ago, Gary had thyroid cancer. He didn’t think twice about it coming back. That was until he started having extreme back pain and weakness in his lower extremities.

Gary’s pain and weakness was the result of a non-traumatic spinal cord injury due to thyroid cancer. The spinal cord injury resulted in paraplegia, or paralysis of the legs and lower body.

After a prolonged hospitalization, Gary transferred to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital. Gary chose NCRH because his good friend was the Director of Therapy and told him all about how wonderful the facility was for treating neurological conditions.

“Meeting the clinical liaison, Brooke, helped with the decision,” Gary added. “She was so pleasant, a great advocate, and saw me a lot prior to coming to rehab.”

Reflecting on his stay, Gary praised the many members of the team he encountered. “The staff were the motivators for my recovery. They were so encouraging and positive,” Gary stated. “They gave me a ray of sunshine and hope for my future! Dr. Walker was so personable and the therapy department and nurses were just so good. The staff was able to motivate me to get through life and prepare for my journey ahead”.

Gary is so excited to get home and back to his routine.

“This will be my new normal, but sure couldn’t have done it without all my family and friends.”

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Blake Whitsell

Blake Whitsell’s 9th concussion forced him to retire from football, and severely impacted his memory.

A talkative, social and funny guy, Blake Whitsell played defensive tackle for South Dakota State University. Then, the 20-year-old suffered a concussion during football camp. After that, Blake couldn’t even carry on a meaningful conversation.

The concussion was the third one Blake suffered during camp — and the 9th in his lifetime. The team doctor recommend he retire from football.

A history and political science major, Blake could no longer remember anything he studied. “I couldn’t read one line and remember it,” he said. Blake moved home and returned to college the following semester. But his troubles continued.

Blake 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,” Blake recalled. “I understood what physical and occupational therapy was, but not speech therapy. I just had to trust the process.”

Blake now realizes the importance of understanding concussions. “Looking back, I wish I would have known more about concussions,” he said. “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.”

Blake worked for three months with speech therapist, Callie Halstead. She provided him 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,” Callie noted. “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 Blake’s focus was much better. He was able to once again build relationships and connections with others. As he progressed, Blake 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,” Blake said. “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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Chester “Mac” Allsup

Mac with one of his outpatient physical therapists, Randy Willman, MPT

51-year-old Chester “Mac” Allsup of Greeley was a “jack of all trades.” He spent his time hunting, fishing, bike riding, walking his dogs, and keeping his yard in pristine condition. But most of all, Allsup was a master of cooking and BBQ.

Everything changed when Mac was involved in a car accident over the summer. The accident left him with multiple traumatic injuries, including a left tib-fib fracture, left rib fractures 3-4, left ischial ramus fracture, and left AC shoulder separation. After initial treatment at a local hospital, Mac transferred to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital for follow up care.

Inpatient rehabilitation offered Mac an opportunity to return to his favorite hobbies.

“Initially, after my accident, I felt defeated,” Mac says. “I prided myself in my ability to do numerous outdoor activities, and now I was limited. But as soon as I came to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital, my spirits lifted. The staff was incredibly welcoming, with nothing but positive attitudes from the start.”

“Our goal is to help patients return home quickly and with the highest level of independence possible,” says Dr. Revelyn Arrogante, Medical Director at NCRH. “We do this through services provided by our highly trained healthcare providers, advanced rehabilitation technologies, and individualized therapy plans. We want to get patients back to doing what they love at their highest abilities.”

After about two weeks of treatment, Mac returned home. He still uses a wheelchair, but is able to perform everyday tasks independently. Mac continues to receive physical and occupational therapy through the NCRH’s outpatient services. He has returned to cooking, too. Mac hopes to help at NCRH’s next employee appreciation BBQ to show the staff how much he values what they did for him.

“The staff cares about you as a person, not just as another patient,” Mac says. “They took the time to get to know me – what I like, what I dislike, my favorite hobbies. You can see the staff’s passion for caregiving. At the end of my stay, they gave me a standing ovation. Seeing all of the people who helped to get me back home cheering me on was truly remarkable.”

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Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital Welcomes New CEO

Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital welcomes Brenda Simon as CEO

Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital is proud to announce Brenda Simon, OTR/L, CLT as Chief Executive Officer.

Brenda comes from within the Ernest Health family and will be relocating from Long Beach, California to Northern Colorado.

Brenda brings more than 20 years of experience and leadership in the healthcare field, specifically Occupational Therapy and administration.  She graduated with honors from the University of New Hampshire with a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy.  Brenda will be transitioning from five years in the role as National Director of Therapy Operations to CEO with ease.

Brenda’s passion for providing the highest quality and most compassionate care is unsurpassed.  She has advanced specialized training and is an educator to others on the specific therapies for those persons with neurological disease or injury.

“Joining a hospital consistently awarded for their excellence in care of patients with neurologic injuries is a dream come true” says Brenda.  Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital is recognized as a Stroke Center of Excellence by The Joint Commission which regulates all hospitals nation-wide.

Because Brenda has a background in many healthcare settings including in-home, acute rehabilitation, long term acute care and outpatient rehabilitation, she will fit perfectly in Johnstown.  Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital has outpatient therapy services available and sits on the same campus with Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital.  Three services delivered on one campus.

Brenda is an avid skier, hiker and dedicated runner.  She is ecstatic to be able to enjoy all beautiful Colorado has to offer.

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Local Hospitals Help Return Gillette Man Home

When Christopher Lauck of Gillette, Wyo., mixed CLR (Calcium, Lime, Rust remover) with bleach this past summer, the result was life-threatening. The 32-year-old coal mine equipment operator went into respiratory failure after breathing in the fumes.

Respiratory failure occurs when there isn’t enough oxygen passing from the lungs into the body’s bloodstream, which creates the potential to critically harm the body’s organs like the heart and brain. In Lauck’s case, he was rushed to a local hospital and put on a mechanical ventilator to help him breathe. After about a month at the hospital, he was transferred to Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital for continued care. He was still on a ventilator.

“While the ventilator plays a critical, life-saving role, it was important to get Christopher removed from it as quickly and safely as possible to avoid complications,” says Dr. Gary Pearson, Medical Director of Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital. “He had received prolonged mechanical ventilation, which requires specialized medical assistance in being weaned off of it.”

At the hospital, an interdisciplinary respiratory failure team created a personalized plan of care with Lauck and his family members that was tailored to his complex, medical needs. The team used proven clinical practices, evidence-based research, and the latest technology to help remove Lauck from the ventilator within two weeks.

“The physicians and medical team were very thorough and provided excellent care,” Lauck says. “I felt good about the treatments and felt at home.”

Soon after Lauck was removed from the ventilator, he was transferred to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital. He began participating in physical, occupational, and speech therapy. He relearned how to perform daily activities such as walking, eating, dressing – and his favorite, competitive shooting.

“My therapists found out I enjoyed competitive shooting, so during therapy, I began using a laser to shoot at targets,” Lauck says. “It was a really positive experience and helped me to see that I was going to be able to return back to doing the things I enjoyed.”

Lauck returned home at the beginning of September. He has since returned back to work, competitive shooting, and spending time with his friends.

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What to Pack for a Hospital Stay

Whether you are a patient preparing for an inpatient hospital stay, or someone who’s loved one unexpectedly finds themselves in a hospital, having the right things for a hospital stay is important. Packing the right items will help make your stay less stressful and allow you to focus on your recovery.

Below you’ll find a summary of suggested items to pack for a hospital stay.

Clothing

  • 5-6 outfits of loose fitting pants and tops
  • Undergarments
  • Sweater or jacket
  • Supportive pair of athletic shoes with non-skid soles
  • Night clothes (gown, robe, pajamas)

Toiletries

  • Soap, if you prefer a certain brand
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash & dentures
  • Comb, brush, shaving supplies & cosmetics
  • Deodorant, lotion, perfume, & aftershave

Miscellaneous

  • Insurance cards & medical information
  • Eyeglasses & hearing aids
  • Incontinence pads (if needed)
  • Pillow, blanket
  • Family pictures
  • Laundry basket or bag

Click here to download a printable version of this checklist

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Understanding Influenza: 5 Facts to Know this Flu Season

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the 2017-2018 flu season was one of the worst. Understanding Influenza – how it’s spread, how to prevent it, and the symptoms of the flu – can help keep you, and your community healthy this winter. Below are five flu facts to know as we enter flu season.

Can a flu shot give me the flu?

The Influenza vaccine is safe and cannot give you the Flu. It takes 2 weeks to build up your immunity, so you can contract the flu before developing the antibodies.

How is the flu spread?

Influenza is a contagious respiratory virus that spreads when you are exposed to an infected person that coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread by touching your nose, mouth or eyes after touching a surface with the virus on it.

How can I prevent the flu?

There are several things you can do to keep yourself flu-free! The most important step you can take is to get a flu vaccine each year. You can also help prevent getting the flu by frequently using hand sanitizer or washing your hands. Try to avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes. Avoid spreading the flu by covering your coughs/sneezes and by staying home if you are sick. Additionally, be sure to keep surfaces in your home clean.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

Symptoms usually start 1-4 days after exposure and usually come on suddenly. You are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after the illness starts. However, you can infect others before you are symptomatic and up to a week after becoming sick.

Flu symptoms can range from mild to severe. They can include fever, headache, fatigue, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, sore throat, cough and chills. Seek medical care for any worsening symptoms.

What is the treatment for the flu?

Rest, pain relievers and extra fluids will help to lessen your symptoms. While antibiotics are not effective for the flu, there are prescription antiviral medications that can help to lessen the symptoms and shorten the duration. But, they must be started within 48 hours after onset.

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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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