November Injury Prevention

Positive outcomes through prevention

An announcement was recently made stating that Medicare recipients would not receive a cost of living adjustment for 2011. While services continue to have escalating costs, personal dollars have become strained for many. As consumers of health care, we should actively work to reduce our personal and family needs for care that could otherwise be avoided via prevention mechanisms.

The new Health Care Reform Act has identified prevention as one of its major tenets. This is done by keeping costs down for preventative services received at primary care physician offices and by mandating that prevention services be covered in total. Many of these services are currently covered by some insurance, but will likely be provided to a larger segment of the population in the future.

Paying for these services is only the tip of the iceberg. As consumers and wise spenders of our currency, in this case, prevention dollars, we have the responsibility for our well-being and safety. We can not afford financially or medically to sit idly by while someone attempts to fix our problems. For example, we have known for years that excessive alcohol use contributes to a host of chronic medical conditions, but alcohol continues to be consumed at high levels and is the leading cause of motor vehicle crashes. Another example: high blood pressure left untreated can cause a stroke, which becomes a devastating crisis both medically and physically. Finally, we know that obesity is a major contributor to diabetes and heart disease, but we are still the fattest nation on earth. It’s time for us, as responsible consumers, to take control of our own wellness and well-being and prevent illness and injury in the first place.

In the September prevention article, levels of prevention were discussed. Three levels of prevention were identified, with each level having an effect on the next level.
  • Primary prevention is to preclude injury and illness from occurring to the body.
  • Secondary prevention treats a condition as soon as it arises to minimize complications and reduce the effect on the life of the individual.
  • Tertiary prevention recognizes that an injury or illness has occurred and subsequent treatment delivered; action should be taken to minimize further damage, as well as to help the individual recover as closely as possible to a previous level of health.

Through a grant from Agency for Health Care Research and Policy and the State of California Tobacco-Related Diseases, Stanford University has developed a tertiary prevention strategy called the chronic disease self-management program (CDSMP). The course lasts six weeks and includes weekly 2.5 hour sessions. The following topics are covered.
  • Techniques to deal with problems such as frustration, fatigue, pain and isolation
  • Appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility and endurance
  • Appropriate use of medications
  • Communicating effectively with family, friends, and health professionals
  • Nutrition
  • Evaluation of new treatments

The theory is that when we feel more knowledgeable and confident in handling our own chronic health issues, we experience fewer hospitalizations and feel more in-control of our illnesses. This control is profoundly demonstrated when people experiencing multiple chronic diseases can confidently and safely reduce their needs on the health care community by being responsible and knowledgeable about their illnesses or injuries. Stanford’s program is primarily geared to individuals 40 and over, with the heaviest emphasis on those 60 and over. This is the age group that has the highest number of chronic diseases and, when hospitalized, generally takes longer to recover. Having the knowledge, tools and skills to influence our own health and health care gives confidence to being an active player in individual well-being.

Currently there are seven chronic disease self-management programs in Oklahoma. These programs are funded as part of a $27 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Tulsa’s program is a collaboration between the INCOG Area on Aging and OU Physicians’ Family Medicine Clinic. You may receive additional information by contacting Angela Boyd, (918) 619-4768.

Positive outcomes occur when we act as a community of citizens doing everything we can to stay in good health, prevent illness and injury, and lead a fulfilling life. Programs like the CDSMP and our local programs offer a great example of assistance mechanisms to help make this happen.

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