Claustrophobia Does Not Have to Hinder Your MRI Exam

MRI scanning is a vitally important diagnostic tool, allowing physicians to diagnose and treat a whole host of health conditions from a broken bone to dangerous tumors. When a person suffering from claustrophobia needs an MRI, however, it can be challenging to obtain the necessary images, thus hindering the ability to continue with the proper treatment. These concerns must be addressed in order to provide medical treatment to people suffering from claustrophobia.

Claustrophobia is a phobia that is typically characterized by a fear of dark, confined spaces which can occur anytime that someone feels as if they are trapped and cannot get out. According to, Claustrophobia affects up to 5% of the general population in the United States, including mild versions of the phobia. Further studies revealed that up to 13% of patients reported having panic attacks during MRI procedures, with approximately 1.22% prematurely terminating the exam due to feelings of claustrophobia.

This is a real issue for patients and medical imaging specialists, leading to new techniques and MRI scanners to assist those with this phobia of confined spaces.

Today, there are MRI options available to patients suffering from claustrophobia with modern equipment that is more open and less constricting. Even faster techniques are available so that patients can still get the diagnostic images they need without having an anxiety attack.

GWIC Offers Modern MRI Equipment to Assist Those with Claustrophobia

Greater Waterbury Imaging Centers realizes how important it is that you receive the scan your physician has ordered for your medical care. We also realize how difficult it can be for some patients to remain still for up to twenty minutes or more while in a confined space, without experiencing anxiety.

GWIC has modern MRI equipment available such as the 1.5T Optima 450W MRI scanner which holds patients up to 450 lbs. This open-ended scanner gives patients the opportunity to enter feet first, which is extremely beneficial to those requiring scans of lower extremities such as the foot, leg or knee. Avoiding the usual entry method of head first is a solution for these patients.

Other accommodations offered by GWIC to help those suffering with this phobia include:

  • Well-lit and ventilated scanners that are open on both ends
  • Ear plugs are provided to block out the loud noises caused by MRI equipment which can just annoy or startle some patients and may cause anxiety in others
  • Knowledgeable and experienced MRI technologists that understand your anxiety and communicate with you throughout the test to alleviate your symptoms. You will always know how long the test will take and what you should expect.
  • A call button is provided so that you can alert the technologist to stop the scan if you need a break or further accommodations
  • GWIC offers Propeller technology which uses motion correction to obtain images faster minimizing the need for repeat images
  • Lavender aromatherapy personal tabs are provided to help calm the patient with soothing lavender scent. The adhesive tabs can be placed on the patient’s clothing and emit the scent for up to 8 hours. These have been proven to be very helpful in reducing anxiety and claustrophobia
  • Sleep masks help to calm some patients, especially when used in conjunction with ear plugs some patients feel so calm they almost fall asleep during the exam

If you experience any claustrophobic symptoms or fear that you may have difficulty completing your MRI exam, please speak to our experienced technologists. While we do not provide anesthesia, we often refer patients back to their physician for anti-anxiety medication which can help most patients to complete their exam.  Be encouraged to call us to arrange a visit and tour of our imaging center to set your mind at ease before your exam.

During a six-month period here at GWIC, only 1% of our patients were referred for anti-anxiety treatment to complete their MRI exam, and with over 70% of those patients returning to complete their scans successfully and comfortably. If you have a fear of confined spaces but need medical imaging exams, please do not put off your treatment when there are viable options available.

Our Non-Claustrophobic MRI Scanner has helped alleviate this debilitating phobia and allow these patients to obtain the medical imaging scans they require.

Greater Waterbury Imaging Center employs skilled technologists that care about your comfort, safety and overall health. Feel free to discuss any fears or concerns about your MRI scan with your physician and contact GWIC with any questions you may have about your medical imaging scans.

Prevent Hip Fractures with These Fall Prevention Tips

With winter in full swing in the northeastern area of New England, we must be extra careful to avoid falls when walking on icy, snow covered ground and to watch out for our older friends and relatives to help them avoid a slip and fall. Traveling for the Holidays can present challenges and dangerous situations for the elderly who are already at a risk for falling. Please be aware of anyone in a fall risk category and offer your assistance whenever possible, you just might save a life.

A broken hip is one of the most serious of injuries caused by falling, as it is difficult to recover from a hip fracture making it impossible for some to live on their own. One in five falls results in a severe injury, such as a traumatic head injury or broken bones. Every year more than 300,000 people over the age of 65 are hospitalized for hip fractures, with 95% of all hip fractures caused by falling, usually falling sideways. This number is expected to increase along with the age of the US population.

Risk Factors That Increase Your Chance of Falling

There are several risk factors that increase your chances of falling, and the more risk factors you have the more likely you are to experience a debilitating fall. Anyone over the age of 65 is in a fall risk category, and should speak with their doctor if experiencing any of the following risk factors to receive managed care by a trained physician.

  • Women are more likely to fall and break a hip than men, with women experiencing 75% of all hip fractures. This is because more women have osteoporosis which is a disease that weakens bones making them more susceptible to breaking.
  • Weakness in your lower body increases your chance of falling, as this makes it more difficult to support your body weight when standing or walking.
  • Difficulties with balance or walking present a high-risk factor for falling, this includes people with vertigo or dizziness which must be managed by a trained physician.
  • A Vitamin D Deficiency contributes to a high-risk factor of falling, as Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium, and works to slow down bone mineral loss.
  • Vision impairments contribute to the risk of falling, as it may be difficult to see objects laying in the way of your foot path, or to judge the distance when coming up or down steps.
  • Improperly fitting foot wear and foot pain poses a risk for falling. Please be sure that you or your loved one with any risk factor have properly fitting, orthopedic shoes with a non-slip sole.
  • Over the counter and prescription medication use can contribute to one feeling dizzy and unsteady on their feet.
  • Hazards in the home such as throw rugs, clutter or uneven steps pose a fall hazard and should immediately be remedied to prevent a fall.

There are many things that you can do to help improve these risk factors to avoid a catastrophic fall. A hip fracture is often the catalyst to a chain of events leading to debilitation and often-times death in the elderly. Becoming bed-ridden and hospitalized drastically increases your chances of developing pneumonia, which is the most common cause of death following a hip fracture.

Prevent Falls and Reduce Your Odds of Hip Fractures

There are many things we can do to prevent falls and reduce the risk of serious injuries such as hip fractures due to falls.

  • Speak with your physician – talking to your doctor about your risk factors, review any medications that might make you sleepy including over the counter medicine, get screened for osteoporosis and ask about Vitamin D supplements to maintain a healthy level of Vitamin D.
  • Do balance and strengthening exercises – strengthening your lower body with exercises that make your legs stronger is a great way to help prevent falls.
  • Have your eyes checked regularly – Have your eyes examined annually to update any prescription for glasses as your vision can change within a year’s time.
  • Get fitted for properly fitting orthopedic shoes and see a podiatrist for any lingering foot pain or problems.
  • Fall proof your home – remove throw rugs, add grab bars in the bathroom near the tub, shower and toilet, and install railings on both sides of the stairs. Make sure you have bright lighting in your home, and consider using brighter light bulbs.

For more information please visit the National Council on Aging for Fall Prevention tips, news and resources. Be sure use caution when walking outdoors in winter weather or when visiting relatives during the Holidays. Not every home you visit will practice the same fall prevention tips used in your own home, don’t be shy about asking for a cleared path to walk or for help in getting around either outdoors or indoors.

Greater Waterbury Imaging Center cares about your health and safety, and reminds you to talk to your doctor about your fall risk and prevention tips. Remember to use caution in your home and when traveling for any reason. Your safety is our number one concern. Contact us for more information and for all your medical imaging needs.

Learn the Symptoms and How to Prevent Diabetes

November is National Diabetes Month, and with 1 in 10 people diagnosed with diabetes in the United States, chances are you know someone affected by this disease. That’s more than 30 million people in the United States living with diabetes, and another 84 million adults are at an elevated risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States, causing kidney disease, nerve damage, blindness and other health problems if it is not well controlled. If you are living with diabetes, there are many things that you can do to control complications, and progression of this disease.

If you are a caregiver to someone with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you can play a vital role in helping them to maintain healthy habits for a longer, healthier life.

Type 1 Diabetes Occurs in Children and Adolescents

You may have heard about the two types of diabetes, and wonder exactly what they mean. Type 1 diabetes occurs in children and adolescents, and is rare occurring in only 5% of the people diagnosed with diabetes. Symptoms usually occur before the age of twenty, but can happen at any age.

Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include:

excessive urination which is how the kidneys attempt to get rid of excess sugar in the blood
excessive thirst which occurs when the body depletes fluids from frequent urination
losing weight without trying which occurs from dehydration and from losing sugar cells in urine rather than the body using them
increased hunger which happens when your body isn’t using all calories available due to flushing them out in urine
extreme fatigue which also occurs from your body not using all available calories
blurry vision which occurs when sugar builds up in the lens of your eye

If you notice these symptoms in your child or adolescent, be sure to see a doctor immediately. There is no way to prevent Type 1 diabetes, but there are many things you can do to control it and prevent serious complications like ketoacidosis.

Ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition that occurs when cells cannot get sugar for energy due to a lack of insulin. If sugar cannot get into cells, it stays in the blood where the kidneys filter some of it out in urine. When cells do not have sugar for energy, the body starts to break down muscle and fat for energy, causing ketones, or fatty acids, to enter the bloodstream. This imbalance in the bloodstream is called diabetic ketoacidosis, and requires immediate medical attention.

Type 2 Diabetes Typically Occurs Later in Life

Type 2 diabetes typically occurs later in life, although an alarming upwards trend of obesity in children is putting our youth at great risk for developing this preventable disease. People at high risk for diabetes can reduce that risk by more than 50% with healthy changes in diet and exercise.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin, or when the body does not respond to the insulin produced, causing a buildup of sugar levels in the blood stream. Like Type 1, the symptoms are similar with increased thirst and urination, tiredness and blurry vision, although many people will have prediabetes and not even know it. In fact, about 86 million people in the US over the age of 20 have prediabetes, which can be diagnosed with different blood tests.

Healthy Habits Help to Prevent Diabetes

If you or a loved one are at risk for diabetes or living with prediabetes, there is time to make healthy changes that can ward off this disease and prevent it from developing into a chronic condition. The most important things that you can do are to eat healthy foods, stay active with exercise and watch your weight.

Be sure to get regular checkups, have your blood pressure and cholesterol checked and talk to your doctor about the risk of diabetes.

Check out this Thanksgiving Day meal plan from the American Diabetes Association for some delicious recipes you can share with your loved one over the holidays.

Your friends at Greater Waterbury Imaging Center care about your health the health of your loved ones. Be sure to stay active, eat a healthy diet and watch your weight to prevent type 2 diabetes, and continue to support your loved ones with healthy habits. Contact us for all your medical imaging needs.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer awareness month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer awareness month gives us all an opportunity to raise awareness to the 2nd most common cancer in women, next only to skin cancer. Chances are you know someone that has been directly affected by this disease as one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Most of these cases will have a good prognosis and survive if found and treated early.

The majority of breast cancer cases are women, although men can also be diagnosed. According to the CDC, there are approximately 237,000 newly diagnosed cases of breast cancer in women each year, and about 2,100 cases in men. Unfortunately, 41,000 women and 450 men will die each year in the United States from breast cancer. The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age, while the average age that women are diagnosed is 61, and between 60 and 70 years old for men.

Know Your Risk Factors

Just being a female and aging are the two main risk factors for breast cancer, with other risk factors including:

  • Having your menstrual period before age 12
  • Taking oral contraceptives (birth control pills)
  • Starting menopause after the age of 55
  • Taking hormone replacement therapy for more than five years during menopause
  • Breast cancer present in a family member
  • Dense breasts or a personal history of breast cancer
  • History of radiation therapy to the chest or breasts
  • Carrying excess weight, especially post menopause
  • Changes in BRCA1 or BRCA2, breast cancer-related genes

If you have any risk factors along with symptoms, contact your doctor right away to discuss further steps such as screening and diagnostic tests. Some warning signs of breast cancer may include the following symptoms:

  • Newly developed lump in your underarm (armpit) or breast area
  • Irritation, thickening or swelling of the breast
  • Flaky skin, pulling or pain in the nipple area
  • Change in the shape or size of the breast
  • Breast pain or nipple discharge

Use the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool from the National Cancer Institute and the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) for more information and to estimate a woman’s risk of developing invasive breast cancer.

Screening and Diagnostic Tests

Women should conduct self-breast examinations regularly, feeling for any unusual change or lump in their breast tissue or armpit area. Be sure to talk with your doctor if you notice anything unusual, and follow your doctor’s recommendation for obtaining further diagnostic testing such as a mammogram or MRI.

A mammogram is the first diagnostic tool of choice and uses x-ray imaging of the breast tissue to identify cancerous tissue, or rule out the presence of breast cancer. There may be times, however, that a mammogram does not reveal the images doctors need to see and an MRI may be ordered for additional diagnostic testing.

When is a Breast MRI Recommended?

MRI of the breast may be recommended in specific cases, although this evolving technology does not replace mammograms or self-breast exams. MRI produces hundreds of cross sectioned three-dimensional images with the use of magnets and radio frequency waves, with no exposure to radiation. A contrast agent is usually used to enhance the imaging of any masses or lesions. MRI has been shown to detect small lesions that can be missed with mammography, and is effective to image breast implants and dense breast tissue.

A Breast MRI may be recommended for women in a high risk category for breast cancer, or for further testing due to a recent breast cancer diagnosis. MRI of the breast is also used for guided biopsies, and to evaluate breast implants.

MRI of the breast should be performed in a facility with a specially designed MRI machine specifically for breast imaging and MRI guided biopsies. Greater Waterbury Imaging Center is a medical imaging facility located on the campus of Waterbury Hospital, with the proper equipment for MRI of the breast imaging.

Greater Waterbury Imaging Center is committed to providing a comfortable setting for your exam, quick service and accurate results by experienced radiologists. Contact us today to schedule your next imaging test and to learn more about the Breast MRI.

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Childhood Obesity

Sponsored by the American College of Sports Medicine, National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month gives parents, communities and organizations a chance to get involved to help our children live a long, healthy life. Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the United States, with 1 out of every 3 children either overweight or obese. This puts the younger generation at increased risk for diseases that were once prevalent only in adults such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and joint problems. Extra weight puts great strain on the joints and can lead to knee injuries at a young age, and cause joint damage later in life.

Teaching children the benefits of maintaining a healthy weight, and how to accomplish that through nutrition and exercise is the best way to prevent childhood obesity.

Prevent Childhood Obesity by Getting Active

The good news is that childhood obesity can be prevented with healthy lifestyle habits. There are many things that you can do to encourage healthy weight in children, which will alleviate a host of health problems later in life. Getting active is a first step to losing weight. Begin with safe exercises such as walking more, playing basketball or going for a bike ride. As recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Children and adolescents should have at least 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day. Exercises should be age appropriate to avoid injury and provide maximum benefit.

Children do not need the same muscle strengthening exercises as adolescents, as younger children will strengthen muscles by playing on a jungle gym or climbing trees. Adolescents may begin structured weight programs, as are typical in school programs for sports like football, basketball and volleyball. Whichever exercise you choose, it should be enjoyable and fun for kids to learn to stay active for life. Helping kids to enjoy physical activity is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. Providing the framework for a lifetime of enjoyable activities will help kids to live a life free from serious and preventable diseases.

Types of Recommended Exercise

Exercise should be broken up into three categories; Aerobic, Muscle Strengthening and Bone Strengthening exercises. Aerobic activity should consume the majority of the recommended 60 minutes of activity, and can include brisk walking, or more intense exercises like running and swimming. Vigorous aerobic activity should be a part of your child’s exercise routine at least three times per week.

Muscle strengthening activities include exercises like push-ups or gymnastics, and should be incorporated into a physical fitness routine at least three times per week. Bone strengthening activities include jumping rope, and should also be included at least three times per week. Be sure to offer a variety of activities, limit screen time for children and adolescents, and offer a healthy meal to round out your plan against childhood obesity.

Offer Healthy Food Choices

Making some small changes in your diet can bring about great rewards to your health and longevity. Make half of your plate full of fruits and vegetables for every meal, the more colorful your plate the more likely you will receive recommended minerals, vitamins and fiber to keep your body healthy. Eat whole grains instead of refined grains by switching out white bread for whole wheat bread, and choose products with whole grain ingredients such as brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa and wild rice.

Make sure you have some foods with lean protein in your diet, such as meat, poultry, eggs, nuts and beans. Choose leaner cuts of beef when possible, such as 90% lean or higher. Switch out those sugary drinks for water, if you need some flavor add a slice of lime, lemon, watermelon or a splash of juice. Energy drinks and soda represent a major source of extra calories and sugar intake in the average American diet. The body needs water to replenish cells and to stay hydrated, although most Americans do not drink enough water daily.

By providing a well-balanced and nutritional diet we can do our part to ward off this epidemic in the United States, and help our children live a long and healthy life. Be sure to encourage safe, fun, age appropriate exercise to protect against muscle and joint strain, and introduce a variety of healthy foods to children at an early age.

Greater Waterbury Imaging Center cares about your health, as well as the health and well being of all children. Help the National movement to combat Childhood Obesity by encouraging healthy eating and physical activity to all children beginning at an early age. Contact us for all your medical imaging needs.

New Treatment Options Offer a Cure for Hepatitis C

The CDC urges baby boomers to get tested for Hepatitis C, as new treatments are providing close to a 100% cure rate and you may not know you are infected.  Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by a virus that can lead to chronic complications such as cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.  Cirrhosis is a result of liver disease that causes scarring on the liver and occurs when healthy tissue is replaced with scarred tissue.

According to a press release from the CDC issued in May of 2016, the number of deaths occurring from Hepatitis C reached record high numbers in 2014 at 19,659.  A second study published by the CDC in Clinical Infectious Diseases reported that annual deaths from Hep C in 2013 surpassed the combined number of deaths from sixty other infectious diseases which include deaths by pneumococcal (flu) disease, tuberculosis and HIV.  Add to this the fact that many cases of Hep C go unreported and the death toll is likely even higher, and still climbing.

There is no need to die from this curable disease.  Get tested before symptoms appear, as many people go twenty years or more before showing symptoms that develop after liver damage has progressed.

Risk Categories for Hepatitis C

There are approximately 3.5 million people living in the United States with Hepatitis C, but because it can often pose no symptoms most people do not even know they have it.  If symptoms do present, they are often stomach pains, nausea, vomiting and fever.   It is highly recommended by the CDC to be tested if you are in any high-risk category, and especially if you are in the baby boomer generation born between 1945 and 1965.

Methods used for blood screening changed in 1992, so if you received a blood transfusion prior to 1992 you should also be tested.  Intravenous drug users are at higher risk for contracting Hepatitis C, and contrary to some beliefs it is very rarely spread from tattoo parlors.

How is Hepatitis C Contracted? 

Hepatitis C is contracted through bodily fluids and blood, infecting intravenous drug users that use or share needles, and it only takes one exposure to become infected.  People in occupations such as nurses, doctors and police officers have to be especially careful as it is also contracted through an accidental needle poke.  People can become infected through sexual contact, and infected mothers can pass the disease onto newborn babies.

Rarely someone may become infected by coming into contact with an infected person’s personal care items, although items such as razors and toothbrushes should not be shared or come into contact with others.  Hepatitis C is not contracted through casual contact, food or water.

It is suspected that the number of medical procedures performed on those returning from World War II were done prior to blood screening methods used today, and many people had contracted and spread Hepatitis C without even knowing it.  The baby boomer generation is experiencing the largest burden of reported cases and deaths caused by this now curable disease.

Hepatitis C Diagnosis and Treatment

Hepatitis C is diagnosed with a blood test, which is also used to determine the genotype.  There are six genotypes and each responds differently to treatments.  The majority of Americans with Hep C, about 75%, have Type 1 genotype.   Blood tests are used to diagnose and monitor the disease with liver function tests that detect damage and inflammation of the liver.

Your doctor may order additional imaging tests such as an ultrasound, CT scan or MRI.  Imaging is ordered especially if cirrhosis has developed to monitor the progression of the disease.

New Treatments for Hepatitis C

Treatments for Hepatitis C have come a long way, and as recently as January of 2016 the FDA approved a new drug called Zepatier which is a once daily pill combination currently offering close to a 100% cure rate.  Harvoni is another once daily medication that often cures people within eight to twelve weeks.  The most common side effects of these medications are headache and fatigue.

Prior treatments included injections and combinations of medications taken more than once per day with more side effects than the newer medications, while these new treatments offer once daily medications that cure people even quicker.

If you are in the baby boomer generation or any high-risk category, you should see your doctor to be tested for Hepatitis C.  If you are living with this disease it is important to seek treatment before the condition worsens, and for monitoring any progression of liver damage.

It is especially important for anyone with Hepatitis C to avoid alcohol as that will accelerate liver damage, and speak to your doctor before taking any medication especially acetaminophen (Tylenol).  It is always important to eat healthy and take care of yourself, and especially when living with a chronic liver disease.

Your friends at Greater Waterbury Imaging Center urge you to consult with your physician regarding testing for Hepatitis C if you are a baby boomer or in any high-risk category.  Contact us with any questions and for all of your imaging needs. 

Swimming is Therapy for all Types of Arthritis

swimming is therapy for all types of arthritis

Many people suffer from arthritis, and while we typically think of the older generation when we discuss arthritis, this painful disease can affect people of all ages.  July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, which aims to raise awareness to the fact that arthritis affects nearly 300,000 children in the United States.  This blog post discusses what juvenile arthritis is, the different types of arthritis, and how swimming is therapy for all types of arthritis.

Juvenile Arthritis (JA) refers to many different conditions that are inflammatory, autoimmune or rheumatic disease conditions that develop in children under the age of 16.   There are various types of conditions with similar painful and debilitating symptoms including pain, joint swelling, warmth and redness.  Symptoms typically affect the musculoskeletal system, although JA can also affect the eyes, skin and gastrointestinal tract of individuals.

Various Types of Juvenile Arthritis

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) – JIA is considered to be the most common type of arthritis, and includes six sub-types: polyarthritis, oligoarthritis, enthesitis-related, juvenile psoriatic arthritis, systematic or an undifferentiated type of arthritis.

Juvenile Lupus – Lupus is an autoimmune disease affecting the joints, kidneys, blood, skin and other areas of the body.

Juvenile Deformatomyositis – This inflammatory disease causes weakness in the muscles and a skin rash on the knuckles and eyelids.

Juvenile Scleroderma – This condition causes the skin to harden and tighten.

Kawasaki Disease – This is a disease that causes inflammation in the blood vessels, leading to complications with the heart.

Fibromyalgia –  This disease is more common in girls, and usually not diagnosed prior to puberty.  Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition with arthritic like pain that can cause fatigue, stiffness and aching.

Mixed Connective Tissue Disease – This disease is associated with a particular antibody known as anti-RNP, and includes symptoms of arthritis, lupus, dermatomyositis or scleroderma.

Treatment for Juvenile Arthritis

While there is no known cure for JA, early diagnosis and aggressive treatments can aid in relieving symptoms, and even contribute to remission of the disease.  One effective treatment method for all types of arthritis is low-impact swimming.

Swimming is Therapy for all Types of Arthritis

Swimming is one of the best things that you can do for arthritis therapy, giving your body the needed aerobic and cardiovascular exercise without putting painful pressure on your joints.  Since the buoyancy of water offsets gravity, you do not feel the pain in your joints that high-intensity land exercises can cause.  Even low-intensity land exercises such as walking can be painful for people suffering with arthritis.

Swimming is Doctor Recommended Arthritis Therapy

Swimming is often recommended by doctors to people with arthritis as effective exercise therapy, providing low-impact exercises to help keep joints flexible and alleviate pain.   Hydrotherapy in the water is a very important part of a treatment plan, contributing to lessened symptoms and sometimes a full remission of this painful condition.

Walking and Jogging in the Water for Increased Flexibility

For those suffering with painful joint conditions just taking a walk can be a challenge.  You don’t have to swim laps and wear yourself out to reap the benefits of hydrotherapy.  Just walking in the water can provide effective water therapy, as the resistance of water is 12 times that of walking on land in the air.   Jogging in place in the water is also a great way to warm up your joints and get your heart rate up, without straining your joints.

Modify Your Water Workout

Modifying your water workout with noodles, floats or kickboards is a good way to add some variety to your water therapy and gain the most benefits from exercising in the pool.  If you get tired out from walking or jogging in place, you can kick around the pool on a kickboard or a float to change it up, kicking your legs and circling your ankles in the water to improve flexibility.   As long as you’re moving in the water, you will gain some benefit from water exercises.

Take the time to learn what works for you and modify your workout to target the muscles and joints most benefitting from flexibility exercises.

Add Weight Bearing Exercise

While swimming is highly recommended for arthritis sufferers, water exercises do not provide any weight bearing activity.  According to “Arthritis Today”, weight bearing exercises are necessary for bone health and help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, which is a condition affecting mostly older people and especially women.  Adding weights to your water workout routine is a great way to maximize the benefits of exercising in the water.

Learn more about Juvenile Arthritis, and things you can do to help at the Juvenile Arthritis & The Arthritis Foundation.

Your friends at The Greater Waterbury Imaging Center care about your health and remind you to talk to your doctor about any lingering symptoms.  If you are dealing with the pain of arthritis, remember the benefits of swimming and water exercises, and work with your doctor to develop an effective hydrotherapy routine for lessened symptoms and improved flexibility.

Know the Facts on Dementia and Alzheimer’s

June is National Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month, and while dementia is a symptom of Alzheimer’s there is a difference between the two. Dementia is a symptom of underlying health conditions, including Alzheimer’s, and many other conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), among others. Alzheimer’s is a disease that causes dementia, but there are some differences between the two diagnoses.

Diagnosing Dementia

There are nearly 35 million people worldwide living with some form of dementia. Dementia refers to several problems of the brain that become more likely to occur as people age. One of the earliest problems noticed is forgetfulness and confusion. As the confusion grows, people often have difficulty remembering names and faces of people they know.

Patients with dementia progress to developing a poor hygiene regimen and may even refuse to bathe. They will repeat questions, make poor decisions, and eventually reach the point where they can no longer care for themselves. While dementia itself is not fatal, a prognosis would depend upon the underlying condition causing the dementia.

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s occurs when anomalous protein deposits are visible in the brain. These deposits build plaques and tangles that destroy connections in the brain cells, eventually shrinking the brain. A diagnosis is not 100% while a patient is alive, only autopsy can accurately verify changes in tissue of the brain. Diagnoses are primarily made based on symptoms.

Most people begin to show symptoms after the age of 60, although Alzheimer’s can develop in younger people as well. When diagnosed in people over the age of 80, the progression can happen quickly and usually is fatal within three years of diagnosis. When diagnosed in younger people, it can take longer to progress.

Early detection is beneficial, and can prolong life and lessen symptoms. Know the 10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s compared to typical age related changes from the Alzheimer’s Association, the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s research, care and support.

Stages of Alzheimer’s

There are basically 3 general stages of Alzheimer’s disease; mild, moderate and severe, referred to as early, middle and late stages.

In the first mild stage, someone may still drive and live independently, although they are beginning to feel as though they are having memory problems and forgetting familiar words and objects. Family and friends may begin to realize that there is a problem as they notice more difficulties.

The moderate stage is usually the longest, lasting several years. The person will require more care as the disease progresses. They may show frustration or anger and act unexpectedly. It will become more difficult to perform routine tasks and express their thoughts as damage to nerve cells in the brain continues to worsen. During this stage, someone is a higher risk for wandering away and getting lost, as they will have difficulty remembering their address or phone number.

In the final severe stage, people with Alzheimer’s will lose the ability to carry on conversations, control movements or respond to their environment. Communicating becomes difficult and help is needed for daily activities. During this stage, an individual will need around the clock care and assistance with personal care.

Facts and Figures About Alzheimer’s

More than five million Americans live with Alzheimer’s, which is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States (more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined). Once diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a person lives on average four to eight years, but may survive up to twenty years depending on other variables factors.

About ten percent of people age 65 and older has dementia caused from Alzheimer’s, and two thirds of Alzheimer patients are women. African Americans are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s and other dementias as older Caucasian women, and Hispanics are one and one-half as likely as older Caucasians to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s Treatment

Early detection of Alzheimer’s can provide some relief of symptoms and help an individual maintain and prolong some independence. While there is no cure, treatment can slow the progression of this disease, and temporarily lessen symptoms of confusion and memory loss.

Common treatment for Alzheimer’s includes a group of prescription medications called cholinesterase inhibitors, which treat symptoms such as: memory, thinking, language, judgment and other thought processes.

If you or a loved one are coping with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, know that you are not alone, and support is available. Get resources to help you along the way during each stage of Alzheimer’s, access information and support during any stage of the disease, connect with other caregivers and find many more resources at the Alzheimer’s Organization Caregiver’s Center.

For immediate assistance with Alzheimer’s you can call the Helpline at 1-800-272-3900, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

Remember, you are not alone, and there is help and support available to aid both the individual coping with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and the caregiver who may be searching for help and support.

Greater Waterbury Imaging Center reminds you go Purple for the month of June in support of National Alzheimer’s month. We understand your need for caring and professional assistance during any medical diagnosis. Contact us for your magnetic resonance imaging needs.

5 Tips to Avoid Knee Injuries

5 Tips to Avoid Knee Injuries

May is national Physical Fitness and Sports Month!  May welcomes warmer spring weather, and sports like softball and baseball are getting back into full swing.  Parks are full at the basketball court, and people are walking, jogging or playing outside.  We are all anxious to get back outdoors and stay busy with our physical fitness or sports activities, but let’s not forget how to properly care for our bodies, specifically our overworked joints and knees.

Sports can be pretty rough on the knees, with injuries common not only with the professional athletes we see on television, but in our own backyards.  When we decide to go shoot some hoops, or warm up with our teenager as they prepare for a big ball game, remembering these 5 useful tips will help you to avoid a knee injury.

#1 – Keep your Knee Muscles Strong and Flexible

Take care of your knees and the muscles that support them!  Always warm up before any physical activity with stretches.  Some simple hamstring and quadricep stretches will help to keep your knees strong and flexible.

Begin with stretches to the point of gentle tension, and hold for at least one full minute working up to holding your stretch longer for up to six minutes.  To stretch your hamstring simply lie on your back and lift one leg straight up in the air while keeping your other leg flat, repeat with the other leg.  For a nice quadricep stretch, stand on one leg while bending the other leg up behind you (hold onto a wall for balance), grab the shin of your bent leg behind you and pull your shin up towards your glutes, keeping your knee pointing downward towards the ground.   This gives a nice gentle stretch to your quadricep, remember to stretch slowing and never bounce.

#2 – Increase Activity on Your Knees Gradually

An exercise routine must be incremented gradually to avoid injury.  Starting any physical activity too hard or fast will often result in injury.  By building up your physical activity gradually, and not increasing the intensity to quickly you can help to ward off injuries to your knees.

Be sure to speak with your doctor about a physical fitness plan and goals, and work together to develop a safe and effective plan for you.

#3 – Start with Low-Impact Exercises

Beginning with low-impact exercises is a great way to increase your activity gradually and avoid knee injury.  If you are looking for some physical activities to do outdoors, think about good old fashioned walking.   Walking helps to strengthen your leg muscles which takes pressure off of your joints, and will contribute to less knee pain especially as we age.  When exercising at a gym

try a cross-country skiing machine or a rowing machine for a low-impact workout.   There is no need for an intense high impact workout to stay physically fit, start with a low impact activity and increase gradually.

#4 – Maintain a Healthy Weight

Extra weight puts added stress on your knees.  Maintaining a healthy weight for your size can help to reduce stress on your knees, decreasing the chances of incurring knee injuries.   You can be kind to your knees by losing excess weight, as every pound that you lose will release four times the pressure on your knees.

Relieving pressure will relieve pain.  Losing excess weight is a good idea for general well-being and warding off a multitude of health problems, and makes a very big difference to relieve pain in joints and knees.

Just by practicing a regular physical fitness routine, with low-impact exercises like walking, you will be strengthening your muscles along with shedding extra pounds.

#5 – Don’t Lock Out or Over-Extend Your Knees

When exercising, be careful to not over-extend your knees and especially don’t lock them out during any physical activity.  Doing so can cause serious injury to your knees.  When exercising on an elliptical trainer or a stair climber, be careful to not straighten out your legs completely.  Locking your knees puts unnecessary pressure and stress on the joint, opening the door for injury.  Use your muscles to control your leg movements, and avoid locking your knees during any strenuous activity.

We don’t realize just how much we take our knee joints for granted, until an injury occurs and we are left with a lingering pain that affects our daily activities.  Follow these 5 tips to avoid undue stress and pressure on your knees, and you will enjoy your physical fitness routine that much more.

Enjoying our activities is key to continuing in our physical activities, and as we all know, consistency is key.  Don’t give up on a fitness routine due to an unnecessary knee injury.

Your friends at the Greater Waterbury Imaging Center understand the importance of maintaining healthy muscles and joints.  Contact your doctor with any lingering pain, and call on Greater Waterbury for all of your imaging needs for prompt, professional and caring assistance. 

5 Tips to Avoid Spinal Injury During Spring Cleaning

Along with the enjoyment of Spring time sunshine and warm weather, comes the onslaught of Spring cleaning chores from raking leaves and weeding gardens, to climbing ladders for washing windows or cleaning out gutters. Some of us may encounter a few sore muscles after a full day of spring cleaning, but if you follow these simple tips you can help avoid spinal injury or a more serious back injury.

A strained muscle in your back might cause an annoying pain for a few days, or it could cause a more serious pain that puts a real damper on your warm weather activities.

Follow these 5 Tips to avoid injury to your back and spine, and don’t miss out on all the fun.

1. Stretch!

Before you start bending or climbing ladders, it’s very important to stretch and warm up stiff joints and muscles to avoid injury and disc problems. Stretch slowly, do not bounce but hold a stretch to the point of gentle tension, for at least 20 to 30 seconds.

2. Gradually Increase your Physical Activity

This is difficult for most of us that have been cooped up during the winter, but working up to previous levels of physical activity gradually will aid in preventing injury. Even a 15-minute daily walk can greatly reduce your risk of incurring an injury by stretching and strengthening your neck, back, and leg muscles.

The “weekend warrior” is much more likely to suffer a serious painful back injury than those who are regularly physically active. Even low-impact aerobic exercise is found to assist with maintaining spinal disc integrity.

3. Maintain Regular Cardiovascular Health

Regular exercise is also good for cardiovascular health, which many people forget contributes to a healthy back and spine. Increased circulation and blood flow bring nutrients to your back muscles and nerves, and aid in eliminating toxins, both contributing to a healthy spine.

4. Maintain Flexibility

Stretching along with physical activity increases flexibility, which aids in reducing a wide range of spinal injuries. By following the first few steps you will accomplish step four – staying flexible can ward off a host of aches and pains as we age.

5. Lift with Proper Techniques

When bending to pick up bags of mulch or garden soil, be sure to bend at the knees not the torso! Use your legs for lifting, while keeping your back straight. Putting pressure on your back while bending can result in a muscle tear, slipped disc or other spinal injury.

Following these 5 Tips can greatly reduce your likelihood of experiencing a back or spinal injury while tackling the many spring cleaning tasks at hand. In the unlikely event that you should experience a muscle strain or sprain, be sure to stop the activity causing pain and treat the injury with ice and anti-inflammatory medications.

Treatments for Back Pain

Most back strains will usually heal within a few days, or three to four weeks at the most. If you experience persistent chronic back pain be sure to speak with your physician on the best course of action to take.

Physical therapy is an effective technique used to strengthen muscle groups that support the lower back, promote proper posture and improve flexibility and mobility.

Spinal manipulations by licensed chiropractors have been shown to provide low to minimal benefits for chronic low back pain, and should never be used when a patient has an underlying medical cause for back pain such as compression of the spinal cord or arthritis.

Traction can provide short term pain relief by relieving compression on the spine, but it is usually temporary.

When other therapies fail to alleviate chronic back pain, nerve blocks can be successful in relieving pain by injecting local anesthesia with steroid into the affected area of tissue and nerves.

Surgery may be a last resort for nerve compression or serious spinal injuries. Patients considering spinal surgery should speak openly with your surgeon and be fully informed on all options and risks.

Call your friends at the Greater Waterbury Imaging Center if you require any MR Imaging services. We understand your concerns and need for prompt, professional and caring assistance during any medical procedure.

Transforming Lives Through Remarkable Service
Accountability • Compassion • Drive • Excellence • Integrity