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Two new sites offer great new features

For several years, we’ve offered health news, feature stories and useful information from across the University of Michigan Health System on the blog site you’re reading now, and via email from the site.

But with the arrival of Spring 2016, we’ve launched even better options for connecting with us, getting the latest from our experts, and commenting on and sharing our stories.

This will be the last post to UofMHealthBlogs.org . It’s also the last post to the different topic-specific blogs hosted here on cancer, cardiovascular, children’s health, women’s health, neuro health and digestive health. We’ll keep this site online as an archive of great content.

Now, we invite you to join us at one or both of these great new sites:

Michigan Health

At www.michiganhealthblog.org, we’re serving up regular doses of health news and wellness tips — with expert information you can trust from top physicians, nurses, registered dietitians and others at our hospitals and clinics. If you’re managing a health condition, caring for loved ones or simply seeking to live well, you can find information and support here.

On the new site, you can also find specific pages on these topics: Bones, Muscles & JointsBrain HealthCancer CareChildren’s HealthDigestive HealthHeart HealthWomen’s Health

Michigan Health Lab

At www.michiganhealthlab.org, we’ve created a one-stop destination for stories about how physicians, scientists, students and healthcare professionals are shaping and sharing the future of health through research, technology development, innovative education and engagement with the world of public policy.

This site is aimed at an audience that wants to be up-to-date on the latest advances in science and clinical care. If you’re passionate about health innovation, biomedical science, health policy and the training of tomorrow’s health and science professionals, we welcome you into our “lab.”


Michigan Health Lab:


Balance Awareness Week: ‘Dizziness is not normal’



Some loss of balance as you age is to be expected, but balance issues don’t have to be a fact of life, say the vestibular therapists at the U-M Vestibular Testing Center, part of the Vertigo & Balance Disorders program in the Department of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery.

Wendy Carender

Wendy Carender, PT, NCS, of the U-M Vertigo & Balance Disorders program.

Sept. 12 through 18 is Balance Awareness Week, and vestibular certified physical therapists Wendy Carender, PT, NCS, and Melissa Grzesiak, PT, DPT recommend people see their doctor if balance or vertigo is getting in the way of their regular life. Many physicians will then refer patients to the physical therapists and audiologists at the Vestibular Testing Center for evaluation and treatment.

“I personally used to go in and see Wendy very often, so much that I suggested they set up an office for me there. I was a regular pest,” said Harold Johnson, 89, who dealt with a variety of balance and vertigo issues as he aged, in addition to a history of Meniere’s disease and a cochlear implant.

Carender educated Johnson in specific exercises to reduce his dizziness and improve his balance and sent him home with a customized home exercise program.  He finds his balance has improved so much that he rarely requires a visit anymore.

“The majority of our patients with dizziness and balance disorders benefit from an individualized home exercise program,” Carender said. “We’re teaching them to move through the dizziness in order to desensitize and decrease symptoms while promoting return to functional activity.”

Continue reading


Scoliosis spine surgery for a difficult case

Kim TerBeek thought she would have to live with the pain

After suffering with undiagnosed scoliosis for years, Kim TerBeek is able to do many of the things she loved to do.

After suffering with undiagnosed scoliosis for years, patient Kim TerBeek is finally able to do many of the things she loved to do.

Scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, can occur at any age—even adulthood. A primary care physician or spine specialist should be able to detect the condition. But, that wasn’t the case for Kim TerBeek.

“I saw several doctors and none of them said I had scoliosis,” TerBeek says. “I even had two back surgeries and was still taking 10 to 15 pain pills a day for the pain. I couldn’t do simple tasks like vacuuming. Then I saw a doctor in Holland, Michigan, who told me I had a 46-degree curve in my spine and that it was the worst case of scoliosis he had ever seen.

“He couldn’t help me, but he referred me to Dr. Frank LaMarca. He said Dr. LaMarca was one of only six doctors in the United States who did the kind of surgery I needed.”  Continue reading


A little brother’s life-saving gift

16-year-old boy finds bone marrow donor in 3-year-old brother; large age gap presents unique transplant challenges


After 16 years of fighting a rare, life-threatening disease, Derek Gropp finally met the organ donor who would save his life  –  his 3-year-old brother Christopher.

Derek was born with Kostmann Syndrome (or commonly known as Severe Congenital Neutropenia), which prevents the body from producing white blood cells critical to fighting infections and makes even a common cold or ear infection potentially fatal. The disease eventually can transform into leukemia, and his family knew that Derek may need a bone marrow transplant someday.

Then along came Christopher, who proved to be nearly a perfect match for his big brother. But the case presented unique challenges because at just 40 pounds, preschooler Christopher was nearly a third the size of his 16-year-old, 150-pound brother.

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National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day this Saturday, April 30

Get rid of those unwanted medications cluttering your cabinet!

Several containers of over the counter and prescription medications on the shelves of a 1960's medicine cabinet.

Many years ago, a new father was inspired by the birth of his first child to improve his health. He used a prescription medication to stop smoking and when he had some medication left over, he placed it in a drawer. When his child grew to be an inquisitive toddler, the child found the medication and before the parents were aware had ingested enough of these pills to be at risk for seizures and other life-threatening complications.

Fortunately, this story ended well.  Managed quickly in the hospital, the child suffered no complications and after observation was sent home.

Tragically, this is not an isolated incident.

Prescription drugs are an important part of modern healthcare.  When taken as prescribed, pharmaceuticals have great potential to help with a wide variety of ailments and conditions.  When misuse occurs, however, great problems can also result. Continue reading


81-year-old TAVR patient’s road to recovery

A remarkable woman shares her inspiring journey to good health


The Edwards SAPIEN 3 Transcatheter Heart Valve

Shirley Clarkson is a remarkable woman with a strong will to live. At age 81, she has undergone a multitude of health issues. This is her story of survival, thanks to recent progressions in medicine.

In 1998, Shirley was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer and was treated with high does of radiation. Despite aggressive treatment, she overcame difficult odds and was able to get back to an active lifestyle that included regular workouts and miles of daily walks.

Some 10 years later Shirley’s general practitioner discovered a heart murmur during an echocardiogram and recommended she be seen at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. Here, Dr. Michael Shea diagnosed her with aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the aortic valve opening, likely caused by radiation treatment. Continue reading