Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Functional Medicine Closes Gap Between Performance and Potential

While many people receive therapeutic care, not all achieve the results they desire. Some conditions are so significant that rehabilitation potential is small. However, historically some of the poor rehabilitation results are in part due to the paradigms utilized by rehabilitation therapists. Traditional rehabilitation has not always been relevant and authentic, and thus it has not contextually addressed quality of life issues and personal independence in work, play, and rest. But the Functional Medicine paradigm is different, though initially the notion may be difficult to conceptualize.

The concept of function is easy to understand. It commonly refers to all of the things the body needs to do and wants to do in interacting successfully within one’s environment. The concepts of Functional Medicine, however, are unique. Functional Medicine is a holistic and dynamic approach to treating functional impairments of the body that originate from the neuro-musculo-skeletal systems due to disease or injury. The word holistic conjures up many images, some of which are questionable at best. So what do we mean when we say that our approach is holistic.

According to Meriam-Webster’s Dictionary, holistic is “relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts.” And that is the focus of Functional Medicine! It is a three-dimensional approach engaging the mind, body, and spirit. But its focus and methods are three-dimensional in many other ways in that Functional Medicine incorporates:

Three planes of motion – sagittal, frontal, and transverse;
Three bodily systems – neuro-musculo-skeletal AND cardio-vascular-respiratory;
Three experiences – pain, performance, and pleasure; and
Three models of care – prevention, rehabilitation, and enhancement

Functional Medicine recognizes that the body accomplishes meaningful functional activities related to work, rest, and play through the production and absorption of energy. These activities result in the cyclical and repetitive production of forces within the body that occur in definable patterns called Chain Reactions. Chain Reactions, when impaired or compromised by either acute or cumulative trauma, result in injuries that produce symptoms associated with acute and chronic pain, the loss of function, and biomechanical compensation.

Neuro-musculo-skeletal complaints are second only to upper respiratory complaints as the cause for people seeking physician care. Physicians are trained to manage medical conditions rather than dynamic biomechanical conditions that manifest themselves in Chain Reactions. And most physical and occupational therapists are trained in biomechanical principles rather than application. Functional Medicine is a stark contrast to traditional rehabilitation principles.

The Functional Medicine approach offers functional solutions and it ensures success by providing knowledge, tools, and controls to live in power, not in pain. People seek health care with only three complaints: “I hurt…”, “I can’t do…”, and “I’m afraid to…” Functional Medicine offers a unique, direct, and meaningful solution for each of these complaints.

To see how this approach works in real life, consider seeking out the services of a health care professional that understands function. If you or someone you know experiences chronic pain, loss of function, and/or biomechanical compensations, Functional Medicine may provide some of the answers you have been seeking. Contact Work Systems Rehab & Fitness at 641-621-0230 if you have any questions about this philosophy and how it can benefit you.

Diabetes: An Ounce of Prevention

Diabetes is a significant problem in America. This “epidemic” affects more than 17 million people in the U.S., and another 16 million or more are at risk for developing the disease. It is the main cause of kidney failure, limb amputations, and new-onset blindness in adults, and it is a major cause of heart disease and stroke. It kills 180,000 Americans each year.

Type 2 diabetes (also known as adult-onset diabetes) accounts for nearly 95% of all cases and is closely associated with obesity, inactivity, family history, history of gestational diabetes, and racial or ethnic background. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes has tripled in the last 30 years, largely due to the dramatic increase in obesity and inactivity in this country.

But a major clinical trial called the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a project of the National Institutes of Health, has found that at least 10 million Americans at high risk for type 2 diabetes can sharply lower their chances of developing the disease by making simple lifestyle changes.

The DPP is the first major trial to show that diet and exercise can effectively delay diabetes in a diverse population of overweight people with impaired glucose tolerance, a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet diabetic. The DPP found that diet and exercise resulting in a 5% to 7% weight loss lowered incidence of type 2 diabetes by 58%! Unfortunately, most people with pre-diabetes will likely develop the disease within 10 years unless they make a lifestyle change.

The most significant factor that prevents those at risk for diabetes from helping themselves is that they do not know how to get started. If they have been sedentary for most of their lives, they may not be familiar with the components of a successful exercise program. Those who are overweight may be self-conscious or have tried in the past and injured themselves because they did not start slowly enough.

Local health and exercise professionals can be a key resource to assist those with pre-diabetes in getting the help they need. Speak with your family doctor about this condition and what you can do to fight against it. Local health centers are also staffed with individuals with the tools to help facilitate change and increase knowledge about special diabetes considerations that may require exercise modifications, such as peripheral neuropathy, hypertension, foot problems, and limitations in joint mobility.