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

When you love someone with Lewy Body Dementia

Suggestions for family and friends from people with LBD

Older_man_with_woman_on_beach_LBDLewy Body Dementia (LBD) is a disease that affects a person’s thinking and motor skills. Due to the illness, people with LBD may behave in ways that are different than the past. LBD causes people to absorb information more slowly, have problems with balance, have difficulty handling things, experience hallucinations and sleep more, among other symptoms.

It can be hard for friends and family to understand how someone with LBD feels—and even harder to know what to say or do. Members of the Ann Arbor Support Group for those with LBD have put together some suggestions.

I have Lewy Body Dementia (LBD). Please . . .

Give me some slack. It takes me a little longer to do things because my brain works more slowly, but I’ll get there. Just give me time.  Continue reading

Her “migraine” turned out to be an AVM

Chantal Poole’s story: “It could have been fatal”

Chantal and daughter side by side

After a diagnosis of AVM, or arteriovenous malformation, Chantal Poole underwent urgent surgeries. Today, she is working and living life to the fullest as a mother to her five-year-old daughter.

An AVM, or arteriovenous malformation, is not something 18-year-olds usually worry about. But one day Chantal Poole, who had suffered from migraines since she was 13, had what she thought was the worst migraine of her life. It turned out to be a brain AVM that had caused a bleeding in her brain.

An AVM is a tangle of abnormal and poorly formed blood vessels that have a higher rate of bleeding than normal vessels. AVMs can occur anywhere in the body.

“That day at work I had a totally different pain,” Chantal says, “It was so bad that I lost vision in my right eye and I became weak. When I got off from work I had to sit in the lobby until my mother came and got me. I couldn’t drive because I couldn’t see.”   Continue reading

Does poor sleep cause dementia?

Woman_poor_sleep_dementia_blog

It makes sense that after a night of poor sleep, we might not be thinking as clearly the following day. But what about engaging in poor sleep habits throughout our lifetime? Could that put us at risk for long-term cognitive impairments, such as dementia?

Even in people who don’t seem to be cognitively impaired, poor sleep seems to correlate with subtle changes in the same brain proteins that are used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The question is why.

Possible explanations

There are several explanations, which are not mutually exclusive and could all be true:

  • Sleep is biologically important for reducing or clearing harmful neurodegenerative proteins from our brains. Exciting new studies in mice have suggested that sleep may clean the brain of amyloid beta, a protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

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‘A day on the lake changed my life’

U-M student continues recovery, encourages water safety

“I pretty much remember everything,” says 20-year-old Taylor Janssen about the July 2015 day that changed his life. The University of Michigan Ross School of Business student dove into the lake by his house after a volleyball, but a shallow spot in the water made for a much more complicated day.

Taylor’s friends pulled him out of the water, called his dad and they were on their way to the hospital, where U-M neurosurgeons worked to stabilize his cervical injury.

“I just went out for a day on the lake, and it changed my life,” Taylor says.

Taylor’s dad, Mark Janssen, now looks at the risks people take in a different way than he used to.

“It just takes one mistake to alter your life forever,” Mark says.

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13 ways to decrease swallowing problems in Parkinson’s disease

Many people with Parkinson's disease experience problems with swallowing food, liquid and medications

Many people with Parkinson’s disease experience problems with swallowing food, liquid and medications

People with Parkinson’s disease may notice changes with swallowing, especially as the disease progresses. Speech-language pathologists evaluate swallowing (in addition to speech and communication skills) and provide treatment and suggestions to facilitate swallowing.

Here is some information you may find helpful.

Basic swallowing suggestions

  1. Sit upright. Bring the liquid or solid up to mouth; don’t bend your head down to the table.
  2. Start meals by taking small sip of water to moisten mouth.
  3. Take smaller bites and small sips.
  4. Swallow everything in your mouth prior to the next bite or sip.
  5. Avoid tipping head back when swallowing.
  6. Alternate swallows of liquids and solids.
  7. Eat and drink more slowly.
  8. Swallow again or swallow twice if needed.
  9. Do not try to talk and swallow at the same time.
  10. Time your medication to get maximum benefit during meals.
  11. Keep auditory and visual distractions (such as the radio, TV, conversations, etc.) to a minimum during meals.
  12. Sit upright for at least 30 minutes after eating to help prevent heartburn/reflux.
  13. Maintain good oral hygiene. Brush teeth after every meal.

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