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Health Q&A

Posted September 12, 2012 in Advice Column, Greene County

Q: Do you have any tips on backpack safety?

A: Your child’s backpack should weigh no more than 10 percent of his or her body weight. A heavier backpack will cause your child to lean forward.
• The backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline. A backpack that hangs too low increases the weight on the shoulders, causing your child to lean forward.
• A backpack with individualized compartments helps in positioning the contents most effectively, evenly distributing the weight.
• Bigger is not necessarily better. The more room there is in a backpack, the more your child will carry. Your child should wear both shoulder straps. Lugging the backpack around by one strap can cause the weight to shift one side, leading to neck and low-back pain. The shoulder straps should be adjustable so the backpack can be fitted to your child’s body. Straps that are too loose can cause the backpack to dangle uncomfortably.
• The use of rollerpacks has become popular in recent years, however, it is recommended that they be used only by students who are not physically able to carry a backpack. Some schools have begun banning their use because they clutter hallways, resulting in dangerous trips and falls.

If you or your child experiences any pain or discomfort resulting from backpack use, call your doctor of chiropractic. Doctors of chiropractic are trained to diagnose and treat patients of all ages. In addition, your chiropractor can also prescribe exercises designed to help children develop stronger muscles.

Information provided by Jefferson Family Chiropractic, 216 N. Wilson Ave., 515-386-3747.

Q: Why should I not sit for long periods of time?

A: Your heart has the gargantuan task of pushing blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels. Still, it may come as a surprise to learn that your heart doesn’t do the job alone. Your body has two basic types of blood vessels: arteries and veins. Arteries are thick-walled vessels that carry oxygenated blood to your muscles and organs under pressure supplied by the heart, a fist-sized muscle that weighs about one pound. Veins, on the other hand, which carry blood back from the muscles and organs to the heart, have much thinner and less muscular walls and work under much less pressure compared with arteries.

Because blood flows through veins under low pressure, the veins are easily compressed by even the smallest muscular contractions. This assistance is especially important in the legs, where blood must fight gravity to get back to the heart. In addition, a series of thin, membranous valves spaced at short intervals along the way keeps blood from backing up. It’s the alternate compression and relaxation of the veins, as well as the one-way action of their valves, that provides a squeezing motion similar to that of the heart.

It’s also why you should get up and walk around every so often if you sit for long periods. The simple act of sitting for hours on end can cause blood to pool in your veins and, in some people, cause clots.

Information provided by Medicap Pharmacy, 400 N. Elm St., Jefferson, 515-386-2164.

Q: What are physical, speech and occupational therapies?

A: Physical therapy is recommended when a health problem arises that makes it hard to move around and do everyday tasks. It helps you move better and may even relieve pain. It also helps improve your physical function and your fitness level. Physical therapy can improve strength, flexibility and balance. The goal of physical therapy is to make daily tasks easier. It can help with walking, getting in and out of bed and going up and down stairs.

Occupational therapists work with people who need assistance to lead independent and productive lives due to physical, developmental, social or emotional problems. Occupational therapists help increase independence, enhance development and help to prevent a disability. Occupational therapists also have the knowledge and training to work with people with a mental illness or emotional problem such as depression and/or stress.

Speech therapy helps patients regain and increase the ability to communicate through speech. It includes exercises and training to make it easier to talk. Speech therapy can help with stuttering, delayed speech, difficulty swallowing after surgery of the mouth/throat, speech loss after trauma or an illness.

Before any therapy is performed, each patient is evaluated and a plan of care is determined with individualized exercises for that patient. All three therapists work closely with the patient’s physician to determine what therapy is best for that individual person. This is based on many factors including the person’s illness, disability, motivation, home situation and the extent of the impairment.

Information provided by Regency Park Nursing and Rehab Center, 100 Ram Drive, Jefferson, 515-386-4107.

Q: What is telehealth, and what should I know about it?

A: Telehealth facilitates healthcare directly between patient and provider using the latest technology. A personalized telehealth visit allows the patient and physician to be able to see and talk with each other via video camera and screen, as if in the same room. These visits can take place in hospital rooms, emergency rooms, surgical facilities, clinics and skilled nursing homes.

Using skilled medical providers and current technology, patients located in the most rural areas have easy access to their own physician or numerous specialists. A telehealth visit can save you time and money by avoiding the need for you to travel out of town, and if specialists are not traveling to various sites, you may also have the ability for the specialist to “see” you sooner.

With the use of monitors, an electronic stethoscope, otoscope, and/or cameras a physician can gather information necessary for diagnosis and/or treatment.

Patient privacy is protected when using telehealth. All current privacy and HIPPA standards are followed.

Typically most insurances cover telehealth visits You should always check with your insurance carrier for verification.

Telehealth has just recently become a part of standard medical care options and isn’t necessarily available for all services. However, it is becoming a viable option that patients should explore when seeking medical care.  If it’s available, it could save time and money for both the patient and the care provider.

Information provided by Greene County Medical Center, 1000 West Lincolnway, Jefferson, 515-386-2488.

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