Virtual Reality Transforming Healthcare

Virtual reality (VR) is the term closely linked to a revolutionary new generation of gaming technology. VR gaming introduced the consumer to computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment that can be interacted with via special electronic equipment such as a headset. By stimulating senses such as sight, sound and even smell, the interest and demand of VR technology have expanded to many other industries, most notably the healthcare industry.

VR is helping train medical students, assist surgeons in planning upcoming operations, and also providing unique treatments to patients with a variety of conditions while relieving pain and anxiety during minor procedures.

VR medical training

During medical school, students rarely have a chance to experience real-world surgical operations that they would need to perform precisely when the time arises. VR platforms allow students to fully immerse themselves in a surgical experience which requires quick thinking and analysis and also to view surgical procedures from a first-person perspective.  In fact, according to Harvard Business Review VR training improved participants’ overall surgical performance by 230% compared with traditional training methods.  Furthermore, VR is helping close the gap on any challenges doctors may come across during complicated procedures by providing 3D visualization of a patient’s body (with the help of MRI scans) which allows them to venture inside a patient’s organ from any desired angle to examine what surgical approach might work best for each individual patient.

VR treatment 

VR has been used to successfully treat patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder through exposure therapy. The idea is to take a patient back to the memory of their trauma over and over again until their triggers no longer produce anxiety.  This method has been found to be more effective than treatments like medication and psychotherapy.  Similarly, VR has been shown to manage chronic pain and anxiety for patients undergoing frightening procedures.  The immersive effect of VR tricks the most primal parts of the brain into experiencing a different reality which, as a result, relieves the patient and takes focus away from the pain. Additionally, a study by the conversation found that, for patients who were anxious about walking during physical therapy sessions, by slowing down the rate at which patients moved in their virtual environment it naturally caused the patient to speed up their walking. It makes the process a little bit more fun since VR allows patients to use the movements of their therapy exercises as interactions in a VR simulation. VR is set to revolutionize the healthcare industry, as healthcare providers continue to recognize its benefits.

Are Masks or Respirators Really Effective or Necessary?

A question many are asking as news about coronavirus continuous to circulate.

It is important to understand the differences between these two types of protective equipment. Since there is limited historical information on the effectiveness of surgical masks and respirators for the control of influenza during any previous pandemics, the effectiveness of surgical masks and respirators has been inferred on the basis of the mode of influenza transmission, particle size, and professional judgment.

The purpose of face masks is to protect the user from potential hazards or prevent an infectious person from contaminating someone else. However, during inhalation, a face mask does not fit tight enough to prevent inhalation of small airborne contaminants that are not visible to the human eye. The contaminated air can pass through gaps between the face and the surgical mask regardless of how tight fitting it is. It is, however, acting as a barrier to keep contaminated hands from nose and mouth also protects workers, such as healthcare professionals, from splashes or sprays of blood or bodily fluids.

A respirator is a device that protects you from inhaling dangerous substances, such as hazardous fumes, chemicals, and gases including dust and airborne microorganisms. Depending on the type of respirator, testing and adjusting are required to provide a tight seal. Training is important in regard to the use of respirators because they are meant for industrial settings. In addition, respirators must be put and taken off in an area outside the contaminated area to avoid hazardous gases from entering the respirator.

Respiratory protection is effective only if:
the correct respirator is used,
it’s available when you need it,
you know when and how to put it on and take it off, and
you have stored it and kept it in working order in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions

Visit osha.gov and cdc.gov for a further in-depth understanding of the differences between masks and respirators.

At Nova Medical Centers we specialize in occupational health. From our friendly staff to our superb services, we tailor our care to every single patient. Our clients speak highly of our speedy recovery, short wait times and friendly staff. Click here to read testimonials on our loyal clients and their experience with NOVA medical centers.

Extended Unusual Work Shifts

In today’s hustle and bustle economy work has become an added stress instead of being the stepping stool needed to launch us into a more thriving financially successful life, work has taken on a different meaning. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the average number of hours worked annually by workers in the United States has increased steadily over the past several decades and currently surpasses that of Japan and most Western Europe.

Extended or unusual work shifts may be used to increase a person’s resources or are often required by first responders doctors, firefighters, etc. Working irregular hours can be hazardous to your health and also increase the risk of injuries and accidents. Research from the Harvard Business Review workaholics, whether or not they work long hours, reported more health complaints and had increased risk for metabolic syndrome; they also reported a higher need for recovery, more sleep problems, more cynicism, more emotional exhaustion, and more depressive feelings.

Making a change…

Mistakenly people may assume that sleep that the lack of sleep caused by these usual work hours can be overcome by motivation, professionalism, training, and experience which is not true! As an employer, it is important to examine work demands and make use of each employee to prevent overworking those in the current field. Keep in mind that fatigue will be a bigger problem when responders are working long shifts and the tasks are very demanding or exposed to other health or safety hazards. As an employee, it is very important to plan two full days of rest or at minimum one day during the course of a week where workers relax and naturally wake up without setting an alarm.

When extended or unusual work shifts are not avoidable there are a lot of different two minutes or fewer steps that can be done to further help. In addition to regular lunch breaks some techniques that help relax the brain and train your mindset are;

  • Meditation- improves a wide range of skills including attention, focus, stress management, and self-awareness.
  • Deep breathing- as you exhale, your heart rate slows, repeated deep breaths will naturally bring your heart rate more in sync with your breath. This leads the brain to release endorphins, chemicals that have a natural calming effect.
  • Imagery- close your eyes and visualize yourself in a more relaxing setting.
  • Stretching- stimulates receptors in the nervous system that slow the production of stress hormones. It can als0 increase blood flow, flexibility and improve your posture.

Learning to recognize the symptoms and impact of demanding work schedules can prevent worker fatigue and fatigue-related injuries and illnesses. Read our Nova blog for further ways to help maintain your mental health in your work environment.

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Creating a “Culture of Health” in the Workplace

Culture of Health (COH) is a workplace environment in which employee health improvement is supported and promoted through worksite health and well-being programs including benefits and environmental support. This program is to not only encourage individual behavioral change but also to reduce the common stressors in the workplace that have negative take home effects on health behavior.

Work is an important part of life; something that is necessary for the financial stability of an individual. Implementing a culture of health would not only be a long term beneficial improvement among workers but also to the employer. In fact, an employer will receive a very high return on investment for example,

  • Lower insurance costs- the CDC state that healthy employees spend less out-of-pocket on health-related expenses and so do their employers. Employees in good health present a lower insurance risk which translates into lower insurance costs.
  • Improving employee engagement- employees perceive the company as caring for their well-being
  • Heightened job satisfaction- the promotion of health and well-being results in greater employee engagement, satisfaction, and trust.
  • Boosting morale- better health means happy and more energetic productive workers.
  • Fewer absences- chances of being sick are less to none, reducing the number of sick days and time spent away from work

Culture of health is not only about implementing a set of rules but understanding the big picture and leading by example. First, you must understand your organization. Knowing people’s motivation, needs and preferences are important in making sure they all get the message and are motivated to engage in healthier behaviors. The goal is to discover the best practices for each given workplace environment. To be effective, workplace wellness programs need to be intertwined into the structure of the organization.

According to the RAND Employer Survey, employers overwhelmingly expressed confidence that workplace wellness programs reduce medical cost, absenteeism, and health-related productivity losses. For further support, partnering with an expert in this area will help move you move from contemplation into action. Organizations such as Cigna helps employers build the framework to implement such a culture. Creating a strong COH in the workplace is a very important addition which often translates into greater profits, happier clients and improved overall workplace rankings.

At Nova Medical Centers, we solely focus on occupational health. We pride ourselves in delivering exceptional services and helping our clients prioritize their health and safety needs. Contact us for more information about any of our services. Our skilled and friendly staff members are ready to meet all your occupational health needs.

Coronavirus and Employer Obligations

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause respiratory illness in people. Coronaviruses circulate among animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

As headlines continue to emerge every day on the spread of the 2019 coronavirus outbreak, employers are struggling to determine how to respond. The respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, China in late 2019 has recently spread to the United States and is growing worldwide. The first confirmed case in the United States was reported on January 21, 2020, following person-person spread with the virus on January 30, 2020.

In addition, China has also reported the spread of the virus from infected patients to healthcare workers. Every employer should evaluate the risks and analyze their defenses against worker exposure. Companies are also advised to avoid all non-essential traveling to China. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that exposure risk may be elevated for some workers who interact with potentially infected travelers abroad including those involved in:

  • healthcare,
  • airline employees and border protection,
  • solid waste and wastewater management
  • laboratories
  • death care

There is still much more to uncover about the symptoms and essentially how the transfer to person to person occurs. Current cases have ranged from mild symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath to rather severe cases causing death. Symptoms appear in as few as 2 to 14 days after exposure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spread from person to person most likely occurs among close contact of about 6 feet. Person-person transfer is thought to be airborne as a result of respiratory droplets that occur when an infected person coughs or sneezes near another which then lands in the mouths or noses of those nearby or possibly inhaled into the lungs.

The CDC and OSHA have provided general guidance for all workers and individuals regardless of specific exposure risk. Below are a few practices you can implement to decrease exposure to coronavirus:

  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When soap and running water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands that are visibly soiled
  • Make hand sanitizers available to employees.
  • Encourage sick employees to stay at home. Be flexible with sick leave.
  • Collaborate with your temp and contractor firms to do the same.
  • Require employees to notify you if they are infected or exposed.
  • Respect changes to and limits on travel. Follow U.S. government travel advisories due to the coronavirus. Encourage video-conferencing and other tools instead.
  • Develop or update an infectious disease outbreak response plan (see CDC web site), which details how you will deal with exposed workers and infected workers and contaminated workplaces.
  • In the case of workplace exposure, determine which people and areas were exposed. Send affected employees to medical care or home. Take appropriate steps to decontaminate the environment. Follow OSHA standards on personal protective equipment, respiratory protection, bloodborne pathogens, hazard communications, and related issues.

It is important to educate and spread awareness on the best safety practices between the workforce and the general public. Knowing the risks and hazards and consistently applying the provided procedures will further decrease exposure to the coronavirus.

4 Oral Health Tips for the Holidays

Nothing like going to the dentist and leaving with fresh breath and cavity-free! To maintain those healthy teeth, your dentist might advise you to stay away from those surgery drinks and tasty treats. With the holidays approaching, that could sound like torture. Keep calm, with these few oral tips; you can indulge in all those holiday sweets without encouraging any new toothaches.

Don’t overindulge with the sweets. If you can help it, limit your intake of sugary foods and desserts. According to Healthline, “a select group of harmful bacteria produces acid in your mouth whenever they encounter and digest sugar”. This process is known as remineralization, unfortunately, the acid from those sugars is breaking down the tooth enamel. This is the outer layer of protection for your teeth; when this is broken down over time, you are prone to developing cavities. You don’t necessarily have to give up the sweets, just enjoy in moderation.

Drink water often with and in-between meals. Water is a great way to rinse and wash away let over food lingering in your mouth, around your gums and tongue. It may not be as effective as a mouth wash, but water doesn’t contribute to the harm of your teeth enamel as it is flushing away leftover particles before they stick.

Try to brush after each meal. It is recommended to brush your teeth at least twice daily. But, during the holiday season, it can be good to strive to brush more often given that you are in taking more food and beverages. In the New York Times, article, it is advised to wait at least 20-30 minutes after eating before brushing your teeth. Remineralization occurs after sugar enters your mouth and brushing your teeth too soon can speed up that process.

Floss often, if a toothbrush is not accessible at the moment. Of course, it is not likely to keep a toothbrush handy in your pocket, but it could be easier to travel with some floss. Along with drinking your water, floss also is a convenient option to remove leftover food trying to settle in-between your teeth. “More than 500 bacterial species can be found in plaque”, according to the American Dental Association; “Cleaning between teeth removes plaque that can lead to cavities or gum disease from the areas where a toothbrush can’t reach”. 

Yes, it is possible to maintain a healthy smile during the holidays. You can happily give into sweet sugary temptation as long as you continue good dental hygiene practices. If you have any additional concerns or need more oral advice, reach out to your dentist for their expertise.

Attention! You Can Get Athlete’s Foot, Too

The Foot Facts

First things first, you don’t have to be an athlete to catch this foot fungus. Almost anyone, who often wears closed-toed shoes, can be at risk of developing an athlete’s foot. Medical News Today briefs, “Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that affects the upper layer of the skin of the foot…” Overextended time, if untreated, the fungus infection can escalate in warm moist environments, causing more discomfort and irritation. The athletes’ foot is an infection that can found lingering in clothes and on public floors such as locker rooms, bathrooms, spas, and swimming pools. Although it is a harmless infection, it can look and feel unappealing.

Keep your feet to yourself

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), you’ll first notice irritation or stinging between your toes; from progression, that area of the skin can become soggy and white. Prolonging treatment will cause the overall foot to develop agonizing blisters and scaly skin. NCBI’s research results enlighten that “15% to 25% of people are likely to have athlete’s foot at any one time.” Estimated by the UK poll, “…athlete’s foot is present in about 15% of the general population.” By staying aware of various ways the infection can spread, it can aid in support to continue lowering the number of infected individuals.

Some cases incorporate:

  • Hands – If you touch, pick or scratch infected area, you risk spreading the infection to your hand and possible to others.
  • Groin – the bacteria originated from Athlete’s foot can transmit to your groin by your hands, towels, or bed.
  • Sharing – you can spread or contract the foot fungus from an infected person by sharing shoes or socks. 

The athlete’s foot infection is highly contagious; there is a great risk to easily spreading to other parts of your body and to others, especially, in community environments. Until the infection is completely treated, if possible, limit contact and sharing with co-workers, friends, or family; avoid walking barefoot around your home or public facilities to prevent spreading.

According to emedicalhealth, if the rash takes longer than two weeks to resolve after over-the-counter antifungal medications; consult with a doctor to receive the best treatment option for you.

Blog Maintaining Mental Health at Work

Maintaining Mental Health in Your Work Environment

Work can be like your second home. You spend most of your time during the day, if not all week, contributing to fulfilling your company’s goal and/or job requirements. Being that this may be your career choice, you should enjoy what you do and work should not take away from your happiness. With these few mental health advice, hopefully, you can get a push to train your mindset to enjoy your work environment for your own happiness and wellbeing.

Let’s start here…

  • Building relationships with your co-workers is important. This allows the workplace to feel comfortable and friendly. Healthy relationships establish an inviting atmosphere to share personal concerns and relate to others, who may have similar feelings that can build a support team with one another.
  • Getting fresh air or a little sun exposure can uplift your spirits. “Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin,” according to Health Line article; “Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused.” Try to incorporate small work breaks outside to restore your energy and refresh your day.
  • Get well-rested. Exhaustion can contribute to sadness, fatigue, loss of energy or lack of motivation. You should wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and ready to tackle your day, not wishing you had an excuse just to fit in some extra hours of sleep! Read our Nova blog for great tips to achieving a good night’s rest.
  • Communicate effectively with your manager or employer. We are all human and might have some bad days or need a mental health day to ourselves. If you’re feeling down or not yourself, respectively, express to your boss about your concerns and take a day to restore your mental health. That way you can return to your daily responsibilities or job with refurbished positively thinking to be productive.
  • Try out different activities outside of work that will help or contribute to a healthy mind. Things such as yoga, establishing a new workout routine, walks outside, more time with loved ones or maybe pick up a painting or cooking class. Get involved with anything that you feel will make you make and feel great about yourself.

When you take care of yourself, not just physically but mentally too, you are able to treat loved ones or co-workers around you at your best capabilities and contribute to your work confidently without it feeling like a burden or it taking away from your peace of mind. If you feel like you may need extra guidance with restoring your mental wellness, reach out to a certified physician who will be happy to assist you with your needs and provide you with a proper plan. Health is Wealth!

How to Make a Sore Throat Feel Minor with a Few Helpful Tips

A sore throat is, oftentimes, the first sign you notice that sickness is approaching. To some, this could be the worst part of being sick due to your throat hurting and being so sore that it is hard to eat or drink! With the insight of a few out many helpful remedies, you can avoid a sore throat from ruining or putting a halt to your day.

Sore Throat Remedies 

Humidifiers add moisture to the air, and with a sore throat, you may experience dryness which contributes to the pain and irritation when you swallow or talk. Adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil can help enhance your benefits. If a humidifier isn’t at your convenience, you can prepare a hot shower; close the bathroom door and meditate in the steamy air.

Honey used for healing! Honey is one of many traditional methods of naturally treating sore throats. In the NCBI research article, results verify that honey is an exponential source to healing wounds; therefore the process of healing your sore throat can be increased as well. Honey can be added to your favorite tea, in hot water or even consumed by itself.

Peppermint Tea has many antiviral benefits to help treat and restore a healthful throat. Peppermint is great for adding a cooling effect to soothe inflamed throat tissue and reduce pain caused by swelling. You can either purchase packets off peppermint tea or boil peppermints in hot water.

Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated is key when experiencing a sore throat. Medicine Net notes that “staying hydrated can help ease congestion, thin mucus secretions, and keep the throat moist.” By consistently drinking water, you are preventing the feeling of itchiness and preventing your throat from drying and cracking.

Try to stray away from caffeinated and sugary drinks or foods until your symptoms are cured as these can promote dehydration.

Sleep till you can’t sleep anymore! According to the Chicago Tribune, sleep is when “your body can make more white blood cells that can attack viruses and bacteria that can hinder the healing process.” Sleeping is the time your body restores itself and works over-time to repair its health levels.

And with a sore throat, the less talking, the better!

Popsicles! Ice-cream! Having a sore throat doesn’t have to be the worst thing as you have the excuse to eat as much ice cream or popsicles as you want. This a great option to remaining hydrated and the super coldness helps numb the throat to soothe the pain.

If your sore throat does not improve after a few days, seek out to a doctor to suggest any different over-the-counter or prescribed medication to help target treat your symptoms. I hope everyone stays happy and healthy this fall!!