Welcome to the Core Update

AC Health’s roundup of the patient-centered research and news every healthcare professional needs to make their practice succeed.

One Patient’s Experience with Rheumatoid Arthritis Highlights Research Connecting RA and Mood Disorders

Original Story

What’s Going On

Healthcare columnist Eileen Davidson suffered poor mental health for decades. Then, in her late twenties, she received a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis for her chronic pain.

The diagnosis of a “hidden disease” at such a relatively young age threw Eileen into a state of grief, compounded by people’s disbelief of her condition. (“Others kept saying I was too young for arthritis, that I didn’t ‘look’ sick, or that arthritis wasn’t anything more than a little joint pain.”)

When her rheumatologist realized she suffered from depression post-diagnosis, she was referred to a psychiatrist and a clinical social worker. Through treatment, she was better able to manage all of her conditions.

It helped that much of her treatment for arthritis overlapped with recommendations from her mental health providers, including eating a low-inflammatory diet and making a habit of regularly taking medications.

Why This Matters

While this patient’s anecdotal experience is compelling on its own account — and we’re so glad she got the help she needed for both her physical and her mental health! — you may be more interested to learn how her story is really a case study, backed up by broader research.

A 2010 study found that patients suffering from arthritis — especially younger patients under 45 — were more than 50% more likely to develop mood disorders after their diagnosis.

Further study reviews also suggest that the same inflammation that impacts rheumatoid arthritis can also contribute to clinical depressive disorder.

On a patient experience level, then, all providers working with patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis should be on the lookout for signs of worsening mental health. And, they should be prepared to recommend them to the appropriate therapists when requested or needed.

Since the relationship between rheumatoid arthritis and mood disorders seem to be one-directional — an arthritis diagnosis leads to the greater risk of a mood disorder, rather than the other way around — have a referral on standby if you suspect a patient has arthritis.

A Psychedelic New Podcast Is Born! Are You Listening?

Original Story

What’s Going On

ajor pharmaceutical provider Novamind just announced the launch of the “Psychedelic Therapy Frontiers” podcast.

The weekly episodes will feature conversations between two of Novamind’s top minds (sorry!) and other experts covering “the practice of effective and ethical psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, trip-sitting, harm-reduction, [and] equitable access to care.”

Why This Matters

Talk about self-medication!

Seems that formerly shunned substances are enjoying some time in the proverbial spotlight.

Putting aside cases of patients self-treating their pain and other health conditions for another time, this announcement is just the latest in an explosion of audio-first experiences for healthcare providers.

And, providers are offering their own podcasts to patients, too, making the audio format an interesting and fast way to market your expertise to new patients.

Which podcasts are your favorite to follow?

(And, as an aside, the Core Update now has a podcast! Listen to the latest news and research digest for patient-centered providers, all while you’re getting ready for your first patient appointment for the week. Hope to “hear” you there!)

Calling All Maryland Rehab Providers for Stroke Patients!

Original Story

What’s Going On

University of Maryland’s School of Medicine is quite busy this summer.

Researchers there are running at least three clinical trials for stroke treatments — all in the hopes of discovering new therapies to help patients recover more quickly for a better quality of life.

Various therapies under trial include:

Protein supplements and resistance training;
“Robots to rehabilitate arms or legs;” and
Weight transfer while walking.

Why This Matters

If you’re in the area, then consider forwarding the study participant signups to those who qualify! They’re still accepting new participants as of this writing.

Most participants will need to visit the Veterans Administration Medical Center or the School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, at least once during the trial, but at least one study is completely remote.

We’ll keep an eye out for the results of these trials and share them with you soon!

Sleep App Popularity Is On the Rise

Original Story

What’s Going On

Basically, what the title says!

More and more people are using apps with “bedtime stories” and meditations, all designed to help them sleep better.

To us, though, the interesting part of this article was their cited research on American sleep habits — and the most alarming:

  • One in three adults don’t get enough sleep, per the CDC.
  • +30% of adults suffer chronic insomnia, according to a study published in theJournal of Family Medicine and Primary Care.
  • Searches for “insomnia” increased 58% during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recently published study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Why This Matters

Lack of sleep only exacerbates medical conditions, and clearly it effects many patients.

Consider if a patient’s overall failure to improve or lack of compliance in-between sessions could be ultimately due to poor sleep.

If so, see if there’s a way to help them get in those full seven or eight hours a night between sessions.

(Of course, make sure you vet the apps before offering them to patients. As we discovered last week, not all of the new medical apps are backed by research, and glowing user reviews are no indicator of clinical efficacy!)

Patients With Hearing Loss More Likely to Suffer Physical Declines at a Much Faster Rate

Original Story

What’s Going On

A recently published geriatric study reviewed the physical condition of 2,956 “older” Americans with an average age of 79 over an eight-year period.

Researchers found a statistically significant — and practically observable — difference in the balance and “walking endurance” of participants with impaired hearing.

More startling, however, was the individuals with hearing impairments’ rapid decline of physical condition — especially when compared to their hearing cohorts.

Why This Matters

The study’s authors concluded that by better treating hearing loss — “a prevalent but treatable condition” — physicians could better “slow the decline of physical function” that comes with simple age.

While interesting, we suggest a different conclusion for therapists treating geriatric patients.

The rapid rate of decline in motor function after the onset of hearing loss should prompt proactive physical therapies to compensate for the loss of balance and endurance.

Waiting until the loss becomes clinically significant may result in serious injuries for a patient who already struggles with recoveries.

Furthermore, physical and occupational therapists may consider partnering with their local ENTs — ear, nose, and throat doctors — to offer immediate referral programs for newly diagnosed senior patients.

Ready to upgrade your approach to home exercises for a custom, patient-centered practice?

Then request a demo of the AC Health app and get a free customized app for your practice!