Healthy & Happy
September, 2021 - Issue #203
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Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital's Palliative Care
Teddy Bear Program Brings Comfort to Hurting Families

Since 2018, the Palliative Care program at Henry Mayo has used teddy bears to provide comfort to many parents and their children. The bears also bring comfort to the staff involved in difficult cases. When a patient is terminally ill, his or her heartbeat can be recorded by the teddy bear, which is then given to a patient's family member as a keepsake.
"The response we get from the families that receive a bear has been very positive," said Balbir Brar, MD, medical director of palliative care at Henry Mayo. "When a loved one enters the final stages of life, we are able to record the heartbeat of the patient, place the recording in the bear and present the bear as a gift to the child or family member."
The recordable bears make a profound impact on family members. One such case involved a mother who was non-responsive and on life support. The patient's son, an only child, was faced with the responsibility of making the health care decisions for his mother.
The son compassionately asked the staff to postpone placing his mother on comfort care until after his upcoming graduation a few days later. Unsure of how the son would respond to receiving a teddy bear, staff provided information on the teddy bear keepsake and asked for permission to prepare one for him.
When the recording of the patient's heartbeat was finished, the bear was placed in between her arms. When the son returned to his mother's room, he went straight to the bear, hugged it and cried. The bear provided comfort to the young man during a very difficult time. Knowing they were able to give the young man such a precious gift, the staff was grateful for the opportunity to provide the beautiful keepsake.
While nothing can replace a loved one, the bears help to ease the pain and offer support in the face of tragedy. The palliative care team at Henry Mayo is committed to making end-of-life situations as comforting and peaceful as possible for both patients and their families.

Varicose Veins & Pregnancy
There are many risk factors for varicose veins; one of them is pregnancy. Women undergo significant physiological changes with pregnancy. Increased blood volume and hormonal changes cause the veins to dilate. In addition, a gravid uterus exerts downward pressure on the leg veins. Many women can develop bulging varicose veins during their pregnancy. Fortunately, these may regress once the baby is delivered. However in some women, they may remain and unfortunately, may worsen with subsequent pregnancies. This can cause leg pain, aching, cramping, fatigue and restless legs. Fortunately, the treatment for varicose veins is very effective and minimally invasive.
Harvard- and Stanford-trained and double-board-certified surgeon Dr. Larisse Lee focuses on the most up-to-date techniques to get the results you want. Their state-of-the-art facility in Sherman Oaks offers minimally-invasive procedures with exceptional results. LA Vein Center 818-325-0400
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"I love the Back to School season! The smell of new notebooks - and the promise that parents might be able to carve out an hour or two of kid-free time during the day - makes me feel like the year is refreshed with NEW POSSIBILITIES. Pull a page out of that new notebook and jot down all the things you've been putting off that need to be wrapped up before the busy holiday season. Is re-evaluating your insurance on the list? Is it time to add or start life insurance? Has life changed - new car, new home, new baby? We've learned that the best time to do these important things is... now!"
Wendy Collins of State Farm 296-2068
Back to School, Back to Routines
We get it. Between virtual learning, then a summer where many of us felt compelled to pack in a year's worth of fun into a few months, routines have gone to the wayside for many families. Even your family's oral hygiene routines may have suffered.
Be honest: How many times this week/month/year have you flossed? Have you had your two annual dental check ups over the last 365 days, as advised by the American Dental Association? Have the kids brushed at least twice a day - for at least two minutes?
If the answer is less than ideal, it's ok. There's no shame here.
In fact, there's a special opportunity to get back on track: Back to school! As we get back into the habit of packing lunches, checking backpacks, signing permission slips and reviewing homework, we can also build other necessities back in... namely, good oral care.
The best place to start is in your family dental office. Some, like Dr. Marvin Tong's new Valencia office, offer Saturday appointments so that you don't have to pull the kids out of school to ensure their dental care is on point.
Get your money's worth - because you're paying for your insurance either way - and get your kids (And you!) into the dental chair to reverse any damage that may have occurred when your routines were off. The sooner you visit, generally, the less invasive the treatment solutions. It's time for back to school - and back to your healthy oral hygiene routines!
Marvin Tong, DDS 268-6284
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Tech Innovations for Seniors
Like many family caregivers know, effective senior care goes far beyond the physical, ensuring older adults also are cared for cognitively, socially and emotionally. Technology startups are addressing these needs, too, with cognitive challenge puzzles for mental stimulation, remote classes and activities, as well as news and messaging services to support family and friends with social engagement. Here are a couple of newer companies to keep an eye on:
GreatCall is a startup that offers a variety of health and safety monitoring solutions for seniors aging in place at home, as well as for those in assisted living communities. The technology uses special sensors to monitor around-the-house activities and detects falls, monitoring traditionally hazardous areas like kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms. If there's a change in patterns or a fall, it could indicate a problem, so alerts are sent to a loved one or case manager. The company reports that such early interventions are helping to reduce hospitalizations for seniors.
Another firm, Zanthion, is seeking to improve "quality of life for everyone" with its own predictive analytic technology. Family and loved ones can be notified immediately of events that impact a senior's health. Various sensors can be added to the system that measures air quality, heart rate, blood pressure, room temperature, refrigerator temperature, activity level and more. Notably, the company builds its sensors unobtrusively into jewelry, belt pouches and wall plugs.
For more information on new technology meant to improve the lives of seniors, reach out to the experts at Home Instead.
Home Instead Senior Care for Santa Clarita and Antelope Valleys 254-8701
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What is Minimally-invasive Spine Surgery?
Minimally-invasive spine surgery utilizes a thin telescopic device equipped with a video camera, referred to as an endoscope, which allows spine surgeons to see inside a patient's body. The endoscope is inserted through small incisions, generally half an inch wide, and the spine surgeon sees exactly what needs to be corrected without the conventional spine surgery complications.
Once a procedure has been completed, the incisions are sealed with sutures and covered with medical tape. The benefit of minimally-invasive spine surgery is the healing process. After a few months, the surgical wounds are hardly noticeable, as compared to a traditional spine surgery with a large, noticeable scar.

Benefits of Minimally-invasive Spine Surgery
Minimally-invasive spine surgery allows for the same outcomes as conventional spine surgery, with faster healing times and minimal scarring. Other benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery include:
Shorter stay in a hospital
Reduced postoperative pain
Shorter recovery time and quicker return to daily activities
Minimally-invasive spine surgery may not be appropriate for all patients. Although the field of minimally-invasive spine surgery is rapidly changing, you should consult with Dr. Moza, the highest-ranked spine surgeon and nuerosurgeon in the region, to discuss whether this procedure is right for you.
Kapil Moza, MD
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