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Archive for August, 2012

Hearing is Believing

Posted on: August 30th, 2012 by LAMedicalBlogger

Fresh medical students, doctors, veterinarians and caregivers all have at least one thing in common: they all rely on stethoscopes more than any other piece of equipment. Stethoscopes allow medical professionals to listen to our hearts to make sure our valves are operating correctly, our lungs to be sure they are functioning as they should and other organs to make sure we are as healthy on the inside as we look on the outside.

But are there differences between various brands of stethoscopes, and what exactly should a new medical student or independent caregiver be looking for when they are buying a stethoscope? Here are a few key factors that should be considered in a stethoscope search.

Ability to hear. The point of a stethoscope is to be able to hear noises within the body that you can’t hear with the naked ear. Being able to differentiate between sounds can make a world of difference when trying to treat a patient, whether it’s at the scene of an accident or in the emergency room. This is the most important function of a stethoscope and should be the most important criterion.

Weight. A lightweight stethoscope is ideal for those working purely in hospital settings as it will be on your body in some way or another throughout the day. Anything too heavy will feel cumbersome. However, heavier stethoscopes work better for EMTs or other professions where there is a good chance the stethoscope could be dropped, stopped on, thrown, etc.

Ear seal. Not much to this. If you can hear more outside than you can what’s coming through the stethoscope you need to find a different stethoscope.

These are three basic criteria for finding the right stethoscope, but there are many forums of medical students and residents that can provide helpful insights. LA Medical carries a wide variety of stethoscopes, so check out online catalog and find one that works for you!

 

Staying Alert with MedicAlert

Posted on: August 28th, 2012 by LAMedicalBlogger

For those with certain medical conditions there may come a time when they cannot communicate because they are unconscious, in shock or experiencing another event that doesn’t allow them to speak. It is exactly for these times that MedicAlert was created.

MedicAlert is a medical identification tag worn as a bracelet, necklace or on clothing to let emergency responders, doctors or law enforcement know that the person wearing it has a medical condition that needs immediate attention. Most often these are people with diabetes, severe anaphylactic allergies to food, drugs or insects, a pacemaker or those on blood thinners.

The need for MedicAlert is growing. Right now, one in five people has a special medical condition. Also, as the Baby Boomer generation ages and life expectancy increases, so does the occurrence of chronic diseases like heart disease and epilepsy.

When episodes caused by these conditions occur, tragic or even fatal mistakes can be made by treatment from first responders if the person’s special condition is unknown. For example, a diabetic with low blood sugar could be mistaken as being intoxicated and die, or someone may accidentally be given a shot of penicillin even if they are extremely allergic to it.

Aside from easy identification of a person’s name and medical condition, MedicAlert can also carry around your complete personal health history at all times. With the MedicAlert E-HealthKEY, a USB-enabled device, your complete personal health history is with you at all times in case there is an immediate need for your health records.

From the first bracelet was created 50 years ago and through advances in technology, MedicAlert has stood the test of time. If you or a loved one has a special medical condition, we at LA Medical encourage you to discuss contacting MedicAlert and getting your own bracelet, necklace or identification card today.

A Thank You to Caregivers

Posted on: August 23rd, 2012 by LAMedicalBlogger

There are certain jobs or tasks in life that require extra personality, strength, compassion or other feats of character. One of those is a caregiver, where the job is quite literally to care for another person who cannot care for themselves.

Sometimes these are professionals who have forgone other lucrative career paths in the medical field to help those who are helpless. More often, caregivers are family members who balance working and other activities with providing a family member with the care they need. Either way, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) estimates that around 61.6 million people have provided care for a chronically ill or disabled family member or friend since 2009.

We would like to take the time to thank the caregivers, professional or family, for everything they do, for giving more of themselves than they probably can and for being a special type of person. Most of us have no idea what it’s like to have to be crutch someone leans on day in and day out, or the kind of devotion it takes to balance our stressful jobs with the added stress of having to take care of another person. While many of us may see having to care for a stranger, family member or friend as a chore, caregivers see it as their personal duty because it’s the right thing to do.

Statistics show that most caregivers find what they do rewarding, even though in the case of many family caregivers they didn’t ask for that burden to be placed on them. Statistics also show that many times caregivers spend more on the person they care for than themselves, just another act of selflessness exhibited by a special group of people.

Again we’d like to say thank you to every caregiver, no matter how big or small your role is or if you’re a professional, family member or friend. You help to make the world a much better place.

Keeping the Power On: The Basics of Power Wheelchair Batteries

Posted on: August 21st, 2012 by LAMedicalBlogger

Those that have used a power chair or mobility scooter for awhile know the challenges of keeping a battery charged and in good condition. While most mobility scooters have a range of 10-15 miles, which most people won’t hit during a normal day, not keeping the batteries properly charged can decrease this range and leave you needing to buy a new one. We’re here to help you with some tips as to how you can keep your power chair or mobility scooter battery fully charged and ready to go.

Although this may seem redundant and downright obvious, keep the batteries charged. Ideally they need to be charged after every use, no matter how long or short the use was. While this may seem tedious, especially if your device uses large batteries, it will keep the batteries at their peak charge and ready to use any time.

Another way to make sure the performance of your battery doesn’t slip is to store the battery in a cool and dry place in your home. While they won’t be damaged in the heat or cold, their performance could begin decreasing if left in those temperatures for long periods of time. For those with scooters that are kept in the garage or on the back of a vehicle, bring the batteries indoors during the winter when they’re not being used as often.

Most importantly, never let your batteries go “flat” or “dead.” Allowing this to happen can irreversibly damage the batteries and shorten their lifespan considerably.

So to review: 1) Always charge your batteries after every use, no matter the length of the use, 2), store them in a cool and dry place indoors, especially during the winter, and 3) never let your batteries go “flat.”

Following these simple tips can help to lengthen the lifespan of your battery and ensure that you’re never left stranded anywhere.

 

 

A Disability-Friendly Home

Posted on: August 16th, 2012 by LAMedicalBlogger

Chances are when you moved into your home you thought about a lot of different characteristics of the house. How big is the family room? Do we want the basement to be finished? What color should the walls in the upstairs bathroom be?

However, you may not have thought about making your home friendly for those with low mobility. Sure, no one in your family may have that problem now, but there is always a risk of an accident that leaves someone disabled. And there is always the risk that your parents or your partner’s parents may have to move in with you as they age. How friendly is your home to them?

In the event that any of these things occur, knowing how to make your home more comfortable and accessible will make your life a lot easier. To start with, there needs to be one entry into the home that doesn’t require steps. This ensures people with low mobility can make it into your home.

Secondly, most doorways need to be at least 32 inches wide for someone in a wheelchair to make it through. We realize that most of you will not be able to widen every doorway in your home, so for entries that are too narrow you will have to help the person through to the other side.

The bathroom also presents a few more challenges. While most homes now have bathrooms on the first floor, there will have to be special arrangements made for those that do not. Also, bathing can be difficult for those with low mobility. A transfer bench and grab rails could make getting in and out of the bath a lot simpler.

Having a home that is disability-friendly will allow for that person or person(s) to feel more included and less like they don’t belong. For any help with finding home medical equipment for your home, check out our online catalog.

Bouncing Back after Joint Replacement

Posted on: August 14th, 2012 by LAMedicalBlogger

Joint health is a widely discussed health topic in the United States, as there are approximately 773,000 American every year that have a hip or knee replaced. With around 13 percent of the U.S. population, almost 40 million people, being 65 or older, there’s a good chance that many of us will need joint replacement surgery or will know someone close to us that will need it. With that in mind, here are a few ways that you can help yourself or your loved one bounce back after joint replacement surgery.

When your doctor or therapist gives you exercises or stretches to do, they aren’t really recommendations. Strengthening the muscles around the replaced joint, as well as increasing their flexibility prevents scarring, and can shorten recovery time.

You’ll also have to change the nature of the physical activities you do to keep from putting too much stress on your replaced joint. Instead of running, swimming is a great form of aerobic exercise that doesn’t place stress on the replaced joint. And in place of your singles tennis you may have to play golf for your leisure activity.

You can also change a few things at home to ensure that you’re not hurting your recovery from surgery. The key here is to avoid any extra strain on your replaced joint. Any loose flooring, such as carpets that aren’t secured should be moved to prevent slips. Also, try to avoid going up and down stairs, especially in the first few weeks after surgery.

In the kitchen, try to keep from standing while preparing your meal. Grab all the materials you need at the start and then sit at the table while you make dinner. Again, it’s all about avoiding extra strain on the joint.

Hopefully these tips will you help you or your loved one after joint replacement surgery. As always, you should contact your doctor if you experience extreme pain or encounter anything that is not typical.

Seeing It Coming: Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

Posted on: August 8th, 2012 by LAMedicalBlogger

Ask anyone who has a parent or partner that has Alzheimer’s: it is a terrible disease to watch progress. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s yet, only ways to slow down the confusion and forgetfulness that it causes and give those suffering from it more time. That’s what makes being able to spot the early warning signs of the disease crucial to getting on the right medications to slow its progression. Listed below are some of the more noticeable warning signs of Alzheimer’s.

Memory loss that disrupts daily life: this can be forgetting recently learned information, relying on memory aides (reminder notes, electronic devices) or family members for things they could normally do on their own, forgetting names or appointments and remembering them later.

Confusion with time or place: losing track of dates, times, seasons or how time passes. There could be confusion with something if it’s not happening immediately. Also, there could be times where they forget where they are or how they got there.

Difficulty completing familiar or easy tasks: this can occur at home or at work, and can include forgetting how to get to a familiar place or do easy things like use the correct setting on the microwave.

Misplacing things and not being able to retrace steps: a person with Alzheimer’s will often leave things in unusual places and have trouble retracing their steps to find lost items. They may occasionally accuse others of stealing a lost item.

Decreased or poor judgment: decision making and judgment may become compromised. They may use bad judgment when dealing with money, such as giving large amounts of money to telemarketers. They also may spend less time grooming or keeping themselves clean.

These are just a few of the warning signs of the onset of Alzheimer’s that you can look for in your family members and friends. For more signs and general information about this disease, go to www.alz.org.

 

Exercise Your Noodle

Posted on: August 6th, 2012 by LAMedicalBlogger

Getting older is one of the relatively few things in life that is not an “if,” but rather an absolute. It happens to everyone, though how you function as you age may not be the same as another person. We all know that continuing to exercise and eat healthy becomes even more important as our age increases, but we sometimes forget about our mental health.

But how do you go about keeping your brain in “condition?” There are several things you can do throughout the day to help improve your memory, attention, language, visual-spatial and executive brain functions.

  • Memory– try memorizing the lyrics to a song you don’t know. You can also try doing tasks with your opposite or weak hand, such as brushing your teeth.
  • Attention– you can change your route to a common destination, reorganize your desk, or anything else that changes up a normal routine. And doing mental math on that new route can help you concentrate, both on driving and on coming up with the right answer.
  • Language- change up the sections of the newspaper that you read. Reading a business article as opposed to the sports section (or comics) introduces you to new words. You can even easily look up the meaning in an online dictionary if you read your news online.
  • Visual-spatial- walk into a room and pick out five objects and where they’re located. Walk out and try to remember where they were. If that’s too easy, try to remember where they were in two hours.
  •  Executive- engage in a conversation with a friend or two, or play video games such as Solitaire, Mah-Jong, Tetris that make you focus on developing a strategy.

There are also websites, such as Lumosity.com, that give you daily exercises and games to complete to help improve your brain function. We all want to keep a strong mind as we age, and daily mental exercises are the key to doing just that.