Freeman Medical Musings Blog

Keep Up With Your Health

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As the leaders of healthcare in Joplin and surrounding areas, you rely on us to keep your informed and healthy. Locally Owned, Nationally Recognized means we're here for you every step of the way. 

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Child playing with toy

Dec 05, 2022

A Pediatrician’s Holiday Toy-Buying Guide

Who among us hasn’t at least been tempted to remove the batteries from a loud, light-flashing, noise-making toy?

We know our children are having fun, but to adult ears, the noise is all but overwhelming. 

While children are certainly drawn to sensory-stimulating toys that light up and makes noises, these toys take away from the social engagement that play is meant to provide, meaning parents and children alike talk less when electronic toys are in use. Even toys marked as educational elicit “fewer adult words, fewer conversational turns [and] fewer parental responses than during play with traditional toys or books,” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Like sugar, these toys light up the reward centers in our children’s brains without providing any real value to help them grow.  

So, what’s a parent to do with Christmas around the corner and all the shiny, new, battery-powered toys on display? Our advice is to go old-school! And if that makes you think of wood grain building blocks and tinker toys, remember there are plenty of non-electronic toys that are also fun and exciting! Here are some examples:

  • Pretend play toys: Think Barbies, action figures, animals and dinosaurs. Many franchises have their own line of toys, including low-tech options, that your child will get excited about. These are a great option for toys that have a “wow” factor while still giving children the opportunity to use language and stories to learn about the world around them.
  • Manipulative toys: While this category does include those wood grain blocks, it also includes things like Legos, building kits, puzzles and trains. These toys foster children’s fine motor skills, and some can build early math skills, as well.
  • Art supplies: Crayons, markers, coloring books and paints all make great gifts that children can have fun with while building their creativity. If you want something more elaborate, art supply stores often have kits for activities you can do with your child. 
  • Experience gifts: Does your child love sea creatures? Give them tickets (or even a membership) for a nearby aquarium. Are sports more their thing? Consider tickets to a game. Art classes, martial arts classes, concert tickets or a “ticket” for a camping trip can all make great gifts that your child will be excited about!

In short, choose toys that spark your child’s imagination, give them the chance to explore their world and bond with others in their family. (And of course, make sure the toy is age-appropriate for your child.) In the process, you can save your sanity from the roar of noisy toys.

For more information about play and development, visit healthychildren.org for American Association of Pediatrics recommendations. Visit freemanhealth.com/pediatrics for more information about pediatric services at Freeman Health System. 
 

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Woman checking blood pressure

Nov 29, 2022

Why Preventive Screenings are Important

As children, we visited the doctor for our yearly wellness exams to check on our growth and developmental milestones, vital signs and eating and exercise habits.

But as adults, we barely have time to go the doctor when we’re sick, let alone when we’re healthy. Although yearly preventive screenings are often put on the back burner, they can make a big difference for your health.

Freeman Screen Team reaches out to area residents to provide prevention and detection for healthier communities. By bringing low-cost health screenings to various locations in the region, Freeman Screen Team helps people who otherwise might not seek medical services.

Those 18 years old and older should get baseline numbers from screenings whether they feel like something is wrong or not. It’s good to have a baseline number, that way when something does occur, you know where you started from. For instance, if you’re 18 and you have high cholesterol but don’t know that, it could be twice as bad when we go to draw blood when you’re 30.

At health screenings, Screen Team checks cholesterol, blood pressure, body composition and bone density. Screen Team partners with local business by offering health and early detection screenings for their employees. They also offer monthly screenings by appointment at the Screen Team Resource Center, 1130 E. 32nd, Suite C, Joplin.

The early detection screenings offered can make a lifesaving difference. Early detection screenings enable patients to catch diseases early and take proactive measures to treat the disease. Screen Team offers stroke/carotid artery, peripheral arterial disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm screenings and osteoporosis risk assessment.

One of the most popular screenings is the carotid artery screening. People want to know if they have any blockage in their carotid artery because they know it can result in a stroke. Another popular screening is the aortic abdominal aneurysm (AAA) screening. If you have AAA and don’t know it, and it leaks, it can be deadly within minutes. Some patients who have AAA that isn’t severe enough for surgery visit Screen Team several times a year to monitor it and see if it’s grown.

If something is detected during a screening, the patient is referred to a physician for a more in-depth assessment. 

To schedule an appointment with Screen Team, call 417.347.6555. If your business would like to partner with Screen Team, call 417.347.5646.
 

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Freeman Diabetes glucose meter

Nov 14, 2022

How to Choose the Right Glucose Meter for You

When you learn you have diabetes, the idea of blood sugar monitoring can seem intimidating.

Checking your blood sugar helps you become more involved in your own diabetes care because you can see your numbers and reflect on how various aspects of your life (i.e. food, activity, stress, medication, etc.) affect your blood sugar patterns. Thankfully, the task can be easily mastered, but first you need to pick the right meter for you. Here are a few considerations when trying to choose. 

Meter Features
Consider your individual needs and desires to help make monitoring easier.

  • Visibility: Consider a meter with a large screen and easy-to-read display. A talking meter may be another good choice. A screen that lights up and can be seen in the dark might also be useful for anyone who tests at night or in the dark.
  • Sensitive Fingers: Consider a meter that uses a smaller sample of blood and/or choose a more gentle lancing device/lancet with finer needle to prick the finger. You may also consider using a lancing device and meter that can test at alternate sites (such as forearm or palm instead of fingertips). 
  • Dexterity Issues: Choose an easy-to-handle meter with larger and easier-to-grip strips and lancing device/lancets that would be easier to maneuver. 
  • Tracking Your Results: Most meters save results in a “Memory” or “Log” for later viewing and recording. Some results can be downloaded in clinics and/or at home, and some can be downloaded to apps on smart phones via Bluetooth®. These apps enable you to easily track glucose results and print or email them to yourself and your healthcare provider.

Cost
Most meters, strips and lancets are sold over-the-counter at pharmacies at varying prices. If you have insurance, check with your provider to find out if blood sugar testing supplies are covered and which brands are preferred. A prescription from your healthcare provider for the preferred brand of meter and matching strip/lancet can help to reduce your costs. Keep in mind that your insurance/prescription will likely limit how often you can test per day. If you want to test more often than prescribed, additional strips can be purchased at over-the-counter price. You can also ask your pharmacist to help you find a more affordable option for more frequent testing.

If you are interested in discussing your glucose monitoring tools options, your healthcare provider and a diabetes care and education specialist at Freeman Diabetes Education are always happy to help. To learn more about Freeman Diabetes Education services, visit freemanhealth.com/diabetes.

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Back Pain Management

Oct 31, 2022

New Therapy Alleviates Chronic Back Pain

People who suffer from chronic low back pain now have a new, leading-edge therapy available to help alleviate their pain. 

Freeman Institute for Pain Management is the first and only in the area to offer the ReActiv8 Neurostimulation System. ReActiv8 is only offered at selected centers of excellence.

The implantable medical device, known as a neurostimulator, is for people who have had back painReactiv8 Freeman Institute Pain Managment
for more than six months and whose pain is impacting their quality of life despite treatments, such
as medication and physical therapy.

ReActiv8 is designed to address the cause of low back pain by activating the muscles that
control stability of the low back. The primary goal is to enable people to get back to physical
activity that has been limited by pain.

So how does it work? The ReActiv8 system is implanted in the low back during a minimally invasive procedure. Small electrodes are placed near the nerves that control the stabilizing muscles of the
low back. In addition to relieving pain, the electrodes activate these critical muscles and cause them
to regenerate and strengthen again on their own over time.

Based on an international multi-center trial, for more than 75% of patients this therapy will break the pain cycle and enable them to return to a normal activity level.

After the device is implanted, patients control the frequency and strength of treatments by using a wireless remote. The implanted device can be removed in the future if desired; however, most people wish to continue the therapy and opt to keep the device long-term.

Click here to learn more about ReActiv8 at Freeman Institute for Pain Management.

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Women with headache

Oct 17, 2022

Using Botox to Prevent Migraines

At some point in your life, you more than likely have experienced a headache.

Headaches are very common and knowing the difference between a tension headache and a migraine can help you significantly in your treatment plan. 

Many times, people try to underplay a migraine. They assume that what they are experiencing is a tension or sinus headache. Tension headaches are mild and feel like a steady ache. Although the pain is uncomfortable – the person can still function during their day.

Migraines on the other hand include a moderate to severe pounding or throbbing headache that usually lasts four hours or more. Migraine symptoms also include sensitivity to sound and/or light, nausea or vomiting, and aura before onset.

Migraines affect people’s lives very significantly. About 40 million people in America experience regular migraines. They are also more common in women, with one in five women experiencing them.

Everyone has their own migraine triggers. Sun exposure, dehydration, lack of sleep, stress, changes in the weather, foods that contain MSG, chocolate and cheese are a few common triggers. A migraine patient should always pay attention to what they ate or did that day to help narrow down their trigger.

Treatment for Chronic Migraines
Migraines are considered chronic if they occur 15 days or more in a month. The exact cause of migraines is unknown, but researchers and doctors have found different treatments to help patients. One of these treatments is Botox®.

Botox (Botulinum toxin) is a preventive treatment that works by decreasing the chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. It is believed to stop the chemicals before they get to the nerve endings around your head and neck. It helps relax the muscles in the head and decreases the tension. 

Botox is injected in shallow muscles just beneath the skin using small needles. Each treatment typically involves 31 injections in the head and neck. Patients receive treatment every three months and have experienced very successful results with limited side effects.

To learn more about chronic migraine treatment at Freeman NeuroSpine – Neurology click here.  To schedule an appointment, call 417.347.7300.

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Lisa Nelson Radiant Impressions

Oct 03, 2022

Certified Mastectomy Fitter Provides Comfort, Care and Confidence After Breast Surgery

After breast surgery, women often experience significant discomfort and may not feel their best or most feminine, or they might struggle with their recovery.

That’s when Lisa Nelson, CFm, certified mastectomy fitter at Pink Door Boutique®, comes alongside ladies to help them feel more like their former selves. Nelson is a healthcare professional educated in providing breast prosthetics and post-mastectomy/lumpectomy services, including fittings and adjusting or modifying garments and prosthetics. For over 14 years, Nelson has served breast cancer survivors of the four-state region and helped women redefine their style after breast cancer treatment. 

        Lisa Nelson, CFm

“My CFm certification lets patients know I’m experienced and qualified to meet their needs,” explained Nelson. “To maintain my CFm, I must complete a certain amount of continuing education each year. The training and education I receive allows me to
stay up to date with new advances in the field, as well as talk to other fitters. Not only am I familiar with an array of different
products, but I also have the expertise to narrow those options down to what will work best for each individual patient.”

It’s essential to feel comfortable when shopping for post-mastectomy/lumpectomy apparel, and building a relationship with a certified mastectomy fitter can help patients feel relaxed and more confident. The emotional trauma associated with fighting cancer, as well as losing a breast, can be burdensome, and Nelson genuinely cares about each patient. Many times, the mastectomy process moves so quickly, women don’t always have a chance to process what’s going on, and by the time they
find themselves in a breast form store, they’re shaken and unnerved. 

“I listen to every customer, offering them a chance to express their concerns and wishes,” Nelson explained. “Whether looking to buy a post-surgical bra or being fit for a custom breast prosthesis, having a close and relaxed relationship with my customers is a huge benefit to recovery. It enables ladies to personalize their selections and make sure everything is the perfect fit. Post-mastectomy recovery is a very sensitive time, both physically and psychologically. Building a caring relationship with trust and emotional support makes a positive difference!” 

Initially, a patient’s doctor will give the go-ahead to get fitted for a mastectomy bra and prosthesis. Then, Nelson schedules a fitting. If patients already have a prosthesis, Nelson will ask them to bring it to their appointment and suggests wearing a button-up shirt for the fitting. Nelson typically starts by asking patients a few questions, including what type of bras they currently like to wear, their activity level and if they’re going to have radiation, which can cause additional shrinkage of the breast. (Most fitters recommend waiting until after radiation for a fitting.) No matter the type of mastectomy, the size, shape or style, a certified fitter can help women feel sexy, feminine and comfortable in an array of personalized apparel. 

“Fashion is a way for women to reclaim their bodies, no matter their shape or size,” Nelson said. “We want our Pink Door Boutique customers to feel good about the way they get dressed during and after cancer treatment.”

While initially it may not seem essential to visit a certified mastectomy fitter, it can make all the difference in the world to a woman’s comfort and confidence. Whether the surgery was months or years ago, an accredited fitter can help women regain the natural shape of their breasts and ensure they experience as few discomforts in post-surgery recovery as possible. 

“I get to see the moment when the patient who has lost one or both breasts turns toward a mirror and sees herself again,” commented Nelson. “I hope what I do plays a small part in helping women not only feel like themselves again but also continue to fight their cancer and move forward in their healing process. Every woman has a unique journey with breast cancer, and no two people’s cancer experience is the same. So, Pink Door Boutique treats every patient individually. We are here to help fit a patient with prothesis and are also here to listen and understand what the patient needs, so we can help guide them through the process.” 

Pink Door Boutique is a unique store in Joplin, Missouri, meeting the needs of women looking for post-mastectomy/lumpectomy garments and prosthetics. Pink Door Boutique also has wigs, wig accessories, head coverings and skin-care products to help with the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy. 

Pink Door Boutique provides full-service professional fittings and access to the latest state-of-the-art products by maintaining close relationships with mastectomy product manufacturers worldwide, including Amoena™, American Breast Care® and Trulife. The entire business focus of these manufacturers is dedicated to creating products for women after breast surgery. 

Pink Door Boutique takes phone orders and can drop ship certain items to the customer’s address. Call Lisa Nelson today at 417.347.7465 for questions, to place an order or make an appointment for a personal consultation or a custom fitting.
 

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Aphasia

Sep 06, 2022

How to Support Someone with Aphasia

There is a language disorder that affects millions of Americans, but most people have never heard of it.

The disorder is called aphasia, and according to aphasia.org, nearly 180,000 Americans acquire the disorder each year. 

Aphasia is a language disorder that occurs when the parts of the brain that process language are impaired. Aphasia most often is caused by stroke but can also occur after head injuries or a brain tumor. Aphasia doesn’t affect a person’s intelligence – it means they communicate differently now.

Aphasia not only impacts the individual but also their family members or caregivers. It might seem intimidating to communicate with a loved one who has this condition, but it just means you’ll have to communicate with them in a new way. Below are helpful tips for caregivers to consider when communicating:

  1. Take Your Time
    The most important thing to remember is to be patient. This condition can be frustrating for the individual, so take your time when communicating. Don’t try to rush through the conversation, finish their sentences or speak over the individual.
  2. Keep Sentences Short
    Keep your sentences short and to the point. Longer sentences can be harder to respond to. Instead of asking “Would you like me to grab you something to drink from the kitchen?” Ask “Would you like a drink?”
  3. Focus
    Make sure the individual has your undivided attention when communicating. Turn off music, televisions or other distracting objects. This makes it easier to focus on the conversation.
  4. Repeat
    Make sure to verify what the individual said to you. Repeat back what you heard them say. For example, ask “You would like to go on a walk?” and then wait for confirmation.
  5. Think Outside the Box
    Lastly, think outside the box when you are communicating. For some people, gesturing at objects or showing pictures is very helpful. 

Keeping these tips in mind can make communication easier for both the individual with aphasia and the caregiver. For more information and helpful resources, visit aphasia.org.

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Vitamins

Aug 26, 2022

Should You Take Supplemental Vitamins?

Did you know the food you eat contains vital nutrients for your body to work properly?

Vitamins and nutrients found in food are responsible for carrying out hundreds of bodily functions, from creating red blood cells to sending nerve impulses and from creating the energy you need to carry out your daily activities to supporting healthy bone and hair growth. So, if vitamins are found in food, is it necessary for people to take a supplemental vitamin?

For most people, taking supplemental vitamins is unnecessary, as we obtain the essentials through a balanced diet. If your diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein and healthy fats, you should be receiving the right amount of nutrients your body needs. The main purpose of a supplemental vitamin is to fill in the nutritional gaps when it is not met through your diet. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate food supplements to assure safety and efficacy, so there can be a lot of variety in quality. Adopting a balanced diet is the best way to ensure your body has all the nutrients it needs.

There are instances in which taking supplemental vitamins are encouraged. Most of the time, this is when there is evidence that you are deficient in a particular vitamin, such as D or B12. Vitamins and minerals have many different jobs within our body, so a deficiency in any of them could cause an array of symptoms. 

There are also conditions that can put you at higher risk to have vitamin deficiencies, such as bariatric surgery, certain bowel conditions, restrictive diets and more. People who are attempting to get pregnant or who are pregnant also have higher vitamin and mineral needs, which is why prenatal vitamins are recommended. 

Remember to always inform your healthcare provider of any supplements you are taking, as some can potentially interfere with lab testing and prescribed medications. If you are unsure if you should take a vitamin supplement, consult with your healthcare provider.

If you don’t have a healthcare provider, the Freeman Physician Finder Specialist can assist you in locating Freeman physicians and services, provide information about physicians who are currently accepting patients and refer you to specialists’ offices. Call 417.347.3767 or 800.297.3337.

About the Author
Brittany Winkfield, DO, is an internal medicine physician at Freeman Southwest Internal Medicine. She earned her medical degree from A.T. Still University, School of Osteopathic Medicine, and completed her residency at Freeman Health System in Joplin, Missouri.
 

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Teen boy with backpack

Aug 08, 2022

A Shot to Keep Kids Healthy

Parents want what’s best for their children – a good education, good health and a bright future.

Timely vaccination throughout childhood is essential to this endeavor. It helps provide immunity before children are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases, protecting them from harsh medications and medical interventions like antibiotics, hospital stays and surgeries.

Vaccines are tested to ensure that they are safe and effective for children to receive at the recommended ages. In fact, the vaccine schedule set forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and followed by your Freeman pediatrician is based on when your child's immune system provides optimal protection after vaccination. Vaccines are also timed to give your child protection at the ages when they are at the highest risks of different diseases.

Each year, top disease experts evaluate vaccination schedules and guidelines against the most recent research. The AAP, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and American Academy of Family Physicians then review and approve any recommended changes. Your Freeman pediatrician stays updated with any changes, too. The current vaccines that school-aged children should have include:

Preschool and Elementary School Years: Ages 4 – 10 
•    Flu vaccine: Every year by the end of October, if possible 
•    Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine: At 4 – 6 years 
•    Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP) vaccine: At 4 – 6 years 
•    Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine: At 4 – 6 years 
•    Polio (IPV) vaccine: At 4 – 6 years 

Preteen and Teen Years: Ages 11 – 18 
As your child heads to college, make sure all vaccinations are up to date and that your child has a copy of all immunization records. If your child travels outside of the United States, check if they need any additional vaccines. 
•    Flu vaccine: Every year by the end of October, if possible 
•    Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine: At 11 – 12 years and a second dose 6-12 months following the first dose 
•    Meningococcal conjugate vaccine: At 11 – 12 years and at 16 years 
•    Serogroup B meningococcal vaccine: May be given at 16 – 23 years; if interested, talk to your child’s doctor 
•    Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine: At 11 – 12 years

For more information about vaccines and immunizations, visit healthychildren.org for American Association of Pediatrics recommendations. Visit freemanhealth.com/pediatrics for more information about pediatric services at Freeman Health System. 
 

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Pregnancy cravings

Jul 28, 2022

The Truth About Seven Pregnancy Myths

Nothing attracts unsolicited advice quite like pregnancy.

While most people are well-intentioned in sharing information, but some of it may be less than accurate. 

From the silly to the misguided and to the just plain outdated, here’s the truth about seven pregnancy myths.

Myth #1: You can’t drink coffee while you’re pregnant.
Good news! You can drink coffee and other forms of caffeine while pregnant. The key is moderation. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends no more than 200 mg of caffeine a day, so you can safely drink 1 – 2 cups of coffee or 2 – 4 cups of caffeinated tea. 

Myth #2: Morning sickness is just in the morning. 
Unfortunately, morning sickness can strike at any time of the day or night. The good news is that morning sickness normally subsides after the first trimester. In the meantime, try eating small frequent snacks of crackers, toast or dry cereal to calm your stomach.

Myth #3: You can’t pet cats.
Never fear – you can continue to pet and snuggle your furry friends. This myth has its roots in concerns about toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can be spread by cat feces. All you have to do to protect yourself, though, is have someone else change the litter box and wear gloves when you’re gardening, in case the soil has had contact with cat feces.

Myth #4: You can tell the baby’s sex by the way your belly looks. 
While it can be amusing to try to predict baby’s sex by your belly position, your cravings or even baby’s heartrate, the only accurate predictor of your baby’s sex is an ultrasound. 

Myth #5: Once you have a c-section, you always have to have them. 
Vaginal birth after a cesarean (VBAC) is an option for many women. Whether you are a candidate depends on many factors, such as where C-section scar is and the reason for your first C-section. If you are interested in a VBAC delivery, ask your OB if it could be an option for you.

Myth #6: You shouldn’t exercise while pregnant.
Unless you’ve been told otherwise by your care provider, exercise is often really beneficial during pregnancy. People once worried that certain positions – like raising your arms over your head – would allow the baby’s umbilical cord to wrap around its neck, but your baby moves independently of you. So no matter your position, your baby is okay. 

Myth #7: You should eat for two. 
As much fun as eating for two sounds, your baby doesn’t need that many extra calories. The ACOG says you need to eat an additional 340 calories per day starting in the second trimester (and a bit more in the third trimester).

Remember, your prenatal care provider is the best source of information. Your provider will work with you to make your pregnancy as safe and comfortable as possible. 

Learn More About Maternity Services at Freeman  
 

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