Greetings, Health Tips readers! I’m sure you were all very sad to see Dr. D complete his final tip last week. After 12 years, and over 600 tips, he’s probably become like a little medical voice in your head. Well, that voice may be slightly higher in pitch now that I’m here, but it shares almost all of the same views and opinions. I’m Dr. Val Jones (Dr. V – it rhymes with Dr. D!) and I’m looking forward to writing to you on a weekly basis.
A little bit about me – I’ve been answering online health questions for almost 10 years, and I guess the administrators felt I had finally proven myself worthy of a broader audience. They are very careful about whom they permit to write health tips, you know! I am a board-certified physiatrist (my specialty is known as physical medicine and rehabilitation or “PM&R”) who went to medical school at Columbia University, and then finished my training in New York City. I traveled across the United States for 6 years, filling in for doctors at various rehab hospitals in 10 different states (AR, NY, CA, FL, VT, SD, NE, VA, DC, WA). Then I took a full time position as the Medical Director of Admissions at Saint Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Washington.
A little bit about my specialty — I believe that PM&R is one of the best-kept secrets in healthcare. Although physiatry dates back to America’s Civil War, few people are familiar with its history and purpose. Born out of compassion for wounded soldiers in desperate need of societal re-entry and meaningful employment, “physical reconstruction” programs were developed to provide everything from adaptive equipment to family training, labor alternatives and psychological support for veterans.
PM&R then expanded to meet the needs of those injured in World Wars I & II, followed closely by children disabled by the polio epidemic. In time, people recognized that a broad swath of diseases and traumatic injuries required focused medical and physical therapy to achieve optimal long term function.
One thing we rehab physicians focus on is using exercise and healthy lifestyle choices to improve our health and avoid disease. In many cases, physical therapy is as important as medications or surgery to combat disability. The health benefits of regular exercise and good nutrition should not be underestimated so we physiatrists try to combine them with our deep knowledge of medicine, pharmacology, neurology and surgery. You’ll find that we are just as likely to prescribe exercise as we are medications, tests, or procedures. PM&R docs care more about what you can (and want) to DO, than about what your lab tests look like.
Going forward, I want to help you add life to years. To enjoy all the things you CAN do, and make changes that will help you achieve your goals. To that end, I thought we’d start with a little tour of the human body, to remind ourselves about how it works, so that we fully understand how to avoid (whenever possible) the things that can go wrong with it.
I’d like to begin with a review of the kidneys – two fantastic little filter organs that are tucked away in your lower back. Check in next week for the scoop on kidney health!
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