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.

Researchers think this country is almost ready for a “Bespoke Health Care System” — is your practice prepared?

Original Story

What’s Going On

Recent research that released last week reviewed Vietnam’s potential for a “BHS,” or “Bespoke Health Care System.”

This electronic system would be mandated and implemented by the national government, and would involve an intricately networked series of EHRs across providers for a patient-centered, outcomes-oriented approach to all health issues.

However, the researchers concluded that while Vietnam’s health system could use more personalized treatment systems, their lack of technology infrastructure and minimal concrete supporting a more personalized patient plan to justify such an investment to lawmakers mean that a BHS will not be implemented anytime soon.

(At least, not nationally!)

Why This Matters

Even if Vietnam’s not implementing a BHS — and even if you’re not in Vietnam! — we’re already seeing similar moves toward governments exploring more personalized care for citizens and tying policy towards that care.

If you want to stay one step ahead, then consider implementing a more personalized patient experience — starting with what technology you choose to use at your practice.

UConn’s Institute for Sports Medicine releases new tips for marathon runners — and their trainers.

Original Story

What’s Going On

The UConn Institute for Sports Medicine released new training strategies for marathon runners last week. In addition to those techniques we all know and love — #CarbLoading — they did offer two new ideas (or reminders) to keep in your training toolbelt:

  • Avoid monotony when possible: Running in the same way — that is, keeping to the same route, the same direction, or even the same surface — can injure runners. Changing up your running exercises helps your athletes avoid repetitive stress injuries.
  • Use your thermometer: Take your athletes’ temperature as often as possible! Figure out what their “normal” is — both for resting and during a regular running session — and monitor for significant changes.If they’re running in a new location with a different climate, altitude, or weather pattern than they’re used to, taking their temperature might alert you to heat sickness before it happens, even if it was never an issue before.

Why This Matters

You may have heard these before, but they’re out of regular circulation enough that we thought they were worth bringing to your attention again.

After all, by tailoring your exercise plans to accommodate both new locations and different routes, you’ll be proving to your athletes yet again that your customized, personalized approach to their sport is why they picked you to train with in the first place.

This 95-year-old patient dances through her rehabilitation. Can your patients?

Original Story

What’s Going On

A 95-year old woman tap dances for her physical therapy while recovering from hip surgery, at the recommendation of her physical therapist.

Her PT wanted to incorporate something that she loved into her recovery process, to keep it relevant for her life and to increase compliance. So, they worked together in her home during the pandemic, learning dance moves together to include routine.

Even as the pandemic eases, our hero and her provider continue to tap dance their way through life — and TikTok! Look her up if you want to smile today.

Why This Matters

How many of your patients groan or roll their eyes if you try to assign a “traditional” exercise — even if they know they need to improve their health?

This story offers a great example on how to include your patients’ loves, passions, and everyday hobbies to offer additional intrinsic motivation to drive patient compliance in home exercise plans.

Keep your exercise plan interesting, and your patients will dance with you, too.

Euphoria or fear?
— Psychologists discuss repercussions of athletic training on mental health

Original Story

What’s Going On

Do your athletes spend time recovering in their off-season? Or, are they constantly chasing the next big thrill?

Do they tamp down their fear? Or, do they just run forward with it — and come back, not remembering their session?

You may want them to slow down for a second to rest not just their body, but their mind, as well.

Many athletes choose to participate in off-season sports and events, refusing to break and rest or otherwise run post-mortems on their season’s performance. However, more and more sports psychologists are speaking out against this constant movement.

What many athletes may describe as a “rush” of pleasant feelings or “euphoria” in performing their activities may actually indicate a dangerous repression of their fears, anxieties, and potential mental health problems which only get worse later.

For some athletes, they can “blackout” entirely due to the repressed fear and anxiety during a performance or meet, resulting in a complete memory loss of the event.

Why This Matters

While this article highlighted the issue for ski athletes and other winter sports, every athlete — and therefore, every athletic trainer, coach, and therapist — is at risk of a similar repression and ultimate burnout.

Keep an eye out for these risk factors in your athletes.

  • Refusal to take time off, or otherwise pursuing similar sports in the off-season
  • Continuous talk of a “rush” whenever they hit the field
  • Not having hobbies outside of their preferred sports
  • “Blacking out” or not remembering what happened during a run or season
  • Lack of plans outside of the main sports season

If these symptoms start to appear, then consider addressing root problems of their mental health — possible repressed anxiety, stage-fright, insecurity, depression, or even just plain fear — rather than simply focusing on their physical wellbeing.

Remember: You train the full athlete — not just their muscles or limbs.

Tech Alert: Two new SLP video game apps for kids!

Original Story

What’s Going On

Gotta love new technology — especially for patients suffering speech delays and impediments!

Two new ones include:

  • The Voiceitt app, which uses machine learning algorithms to learn patients’ speech patterns to then translate the language into “typical” speech understandable by others; and
  • The Spokeit video game, designed by a UC Santa Cruz graduate student for the purpose of helping children with cleft palates.

These apps join the current stable of speech-related software platforms, including Google’s Project Euphonia, VocalID, and Ava.

Why This Matters

Hey, cool new tech is fun to hear about!

Advances like these mean that SLP patients will be able to communicate with their friends and family even while they’re still in therapy — and continue to motivate them through the program.

Have a patient recovering from Covid-19? Try solving your compliance issues with food. (No, really!)

Original Story

What’s Going On

The pandemic feels almost over, but for many Covid-19 “long haulers,” their health issues are just beginning.

These patients continue to experience “brain fog” due to all of the physical and emotional stress that the pandemic has brought along.

This confusion presents as:

  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating,
  • Feeling confused or tired, or
  • Having problems with memory that they didn’t before.

Instead of memory apps or other tricks, Uma Naidoo, a psychiatrist and dietician experienced in treating long-haulers, suggests that food and diet help alleviate this brain fog.

Specifically, Naidoo suggests:

  • Foods rich in luteolin, such as “fresh peppermint, sage, thyme, hot and sweet peppers, radicchio, celery seeds, parsley and artichokes;”
  • An anti-inflammatory diet, including “fruits, vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids;”
  • Increased vitamin C and folic acid intake;
  • Probiotics, such as the infamous greek yogurt; and
  • Coffee and green tea.

Why This Matters

Are your patients having trouble remembering their care plans and assignments? Did they have Covid-19? They may truly be experiencing brain fog — a real medical condition that’s becoming more and more common over the course of the pandemic.

So, the next time they’re in a session with you, ask them about their diet — and have this list handy as a possible roadmap back to good memory (and compliance).

Make Every SPL Patient a Voice Actor!

Original Story

What’s Going On

Last week, the Acoustical Society of America released a report detailing how voice actor performances can lead to a better understanding about the speech muscles under our control.

This connection results in a novel approach for SLPs to teach their patients more about their own bodies. Just as voice actors must train to deliberately change their voice and tone, so, too, must SLP patients train to purposefully communicate with others.

Why This Matters

So, have you tried this?

On the surface, the approach of “train your patients as if they were voice actors” seems to make obvious sense.

Plus, with all the mini-courses for amateur voice actors online, both you and your patients could quickly learn some new exercises that switch up your traditional routines and offer some excitement.

(“What did you do in therapy today?” “Oh, just learned how to be a voice actor!”)

Who knows? Maybe you’ll find Jim Hensen’s replacement for Kermit the Frog!

Partner your practice with parks for free marketing perks!

Original Story

What’s Going On

Rush University Physical Therapy program has partnered with the local Park Place Family Recreation Center! They’re offering free physical therapy services and clinics for local area residents, as well as future races and special workouts.

It’s a win-win situation: The university program gets more attention, while district residents get free access to healthier, sustainable programs.

Why This Matters

While we applaud Rush University and their local rec center for their program, what we really thought was interesting about this story was its example of innovative, patient-centered marketing for other healthcare practices and clinics.

Reaching out to local councils, recreation areas, and other places to offer free health screenings or general exercise events for community members might be a great way to advertise and network your practice!

These opportunities can be short-term as well as long-term projects, so make sure to find one that fits better with your current workload.

Reach across the aisle to marry your practice with others. This chiropractic center is doing just that with amazing results!

Original Story

What’s Going On

The Advanced Spine and Posture team in Grand Rapids, Michigan, takes a holistic approach to healthcare by merging different medical expertise instead of focusing on just one or the other.

Case in point: This clinic believes by using physical therapy to enhance a patient’s posture and strengthen back muscles in combination with chiropractic adjustments, the patient’s root cause of back pain and bone misalignment is addressed.

They use this combined technique to treat other health conditions such as back and neck pain, fatigue, fibromyalgia, headaches, asthma and difficulty breathing, and other conditions.

Why This Matters

Basically? See the forest for the trees!

If you want your patients to heal, then you must take the holistic approach to their issues to resolve the root cause.

You may be so focused on the immediate pain or problem, however, that you miss incorporating something as simple as between-session strengthening exercises to their regular manual therapy.

This lesson holds true beyond the immediate back pain scenario described by the Advanced Spine and Posture clinic in the article.

Throughout this newsletter today, we’ve covered various crossover techniques between professions, from mental health and sports medicine, to voice training and SLP programs.

If you take nothing else away from today’s article, then let it be this: By looking outside of your immediate expertise to consult with fellow professionals, you may find a better patient program than if you had remained within your wheelhouse.

(As a side note, the clinic’s claim to treat headaches and fatigue with chiropracty and physical therapy, while not new to providers, will often be a revolutionary concept for patients. How can you market a non-medicated pain management program to your current patients to better help them long-term?)

Having trouble engaging patients with balance exercises? Try this household console first.

Original Story

What’s Going On

Recent research published last week in Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology tried using Nintendo® Wii with 270 children diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Their outcomes suggest using the Nintendo® Wii — specifically the balance board “controller” — in addition to conventional physical therapy helped the children with both their functional and dynamic balance.

The researchers concluded that using Nintendo® Wii as part of manual therapy programs may add a “multi-sensory and active” component to encourage a child’s participation — even during playtime.

Why This Matters

So the Wii might be on its way out, as it’s no longer in production and most units are being sold used on Facebook Marketplace.

However, the research done in this particular study offer intriguing application implications for other apps and hardware still in production.

For example, both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) hardware systems are becoming more accessible and common in the marketplace, particularly for households with younger families — or for Millennials who still enjoy a good video game.

AR and VR both require greater physical engagement to play, forcing players — that is, your patients! — to get up and move around.

Use this study as inspiration for your own work. Just like the 95-year-old tap-dancer we discussed earlier, how can you incorporate your patients’ current hobbies and activities into their home exercise programs? How can you incentivize their compliance in such a way as to intrinsically motivate them to complete their treatment?

For those who deal directly with balance issues in their patients or with cerebral palsy, the study also gave some insightful observations into balance exercises in general, tackling topics like the ideal duration of a session (approximately 30 minutes) and the minimum intervention periods (at least 3 weeks).