Diagnosing eye cancer early preserves girl’s sight

When Kenley Overton’s parents took their infant daughter in for her four-month wellness checkup, they didn’t know much about retinoblastoma, the rare form of eye cancer that most commonly affects children. But that quickly changed.

Kenley was born Aug. 24, 2010, to Jason and Kendra Overton. When Kenley was a few weeks old, her parents noticed that her right eye would cross frequently. They brought it up to their local pediatrician during a wellness checkup and were told that it wasn’t abnormal for newborns.

However, when the Overtons brought Kenley in for her four-month wellness checkup, her right eye was still crossing. The pediatrician suggested Kenley see an eye doctor as it was likely she would need glasses to fix the issue.

In a whirlwind of appointments, Kenley first saw an optometrist who believed she had a detached retina. She was then referred to Dr. Peter J. Blackburn at UK Advanced Eye Care. After some testing, Blackburn diagnosed Kenley with retinoblastoma – a form of eye cancer that begins in the retina. Thirteen days after her wellness check, Kenley was scheduled for surgery with Blackburn to evaluate the situation and decide on a plan moving forward.

The best-case scenario

Retinoblastoma is a rare disease; only 200 to 300 children are diagnosed with it each year in the U.S. About three out of four children with retinoblastoma have a tumor in only one eye. Overall, more than 90 percent of children with retinoblastoma are cured, but the outlook is not nearly as good if the cancer has spread outside the eye.

Blackburn says that although there are no known avoidable risk factors for retinoblastoma, some gene changes that put a child at high risk for the condition can be passed on from a parent. Children born to a parent with a history of retinoblastoma should be screened for this cancer starting shortly after birth because early detection greatly improves the chance for successful treatment.

When Blackburn came out of surgery, he told the Overton family that Kenley’s cancer was only in her right eye – the best-case scenario.

He was pleasantly surprised because at Kenley’s young age, he had suspected the cancer might have been in both of her eyes. The decision was made to remove Kenley’s right eye that day.

In the years following her surgery, Kenley was regularly monitored to make sure the cancer hadn’t spread to her left eye. As Kenley continued to grow and show no signs of the retinoblastoma in her left eye, Blackburn became more confident that the cancer was limited to Kenley’s right eye.

Compassionate care at UK

Kendra Overton looks back on this difficult time in Kenley’s life and remembers how tough it was on her family. While taking care of Kenley, she and Jason also had to care for their older daughter, Jaylen, who was 4 years old at the time. But through the stress, she remembers Blackburn and the care he provided for Kenley.

“Dr. Blackburn was a very confident in the information he delivered about Kenley and her treatment plan, and he had a wonderful bedside manner,” she said.

She said Blackburn even took the time to pray with her family before Kenley’s surgery.

“At a time when we were falling apart, we really needed that and you don’t normally hear of doctors doing that,” she said.

Kenley is now a thriving 6-year-old. Kendra describes her daughter as naturally funny and someone who never meets a stranger. She just has a love for people, her mother says.

“Everyone who comes in contact with her says she is just so amazing,” Kendra said.


Next steps:

  • Learn more about UK Advanced Eye Care, which provides comprehensive care for patients of all ages  from routine eye exams to treatment for the most complex ophthalmic issues.
  • Earlier this year, UK Advanced Eye Care moved into a new state-of-the-art clinic that will allow us to provide even better care for our patients. Find out more about our new location.

Are you at risk for deep vein thrombosis?

Dr. Nathan Orr

Dr. Nathan Orr

Written by Dr. Nathan Orr, a vascular surgeon at UK HealthCare.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a dangerous condition where a blood clot forms in the larger veins of our body due to slow blood flow, blood vessel damage or increased tendency to clot.

What is deep vein thrombosis?

When we cut or scrape our skin, the clotting process creates a scab. When that process begins inside our bodies – typically in the blood vessels in our legs or thighs – the resulting clot, also known as a thrombus, can break off and travel through the blood stream to an artery in the lungs, blocking blood flow and causing life-threatening complications such as a pulmonary embolism.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 100,000 Americans die each year from DVT/pulmonary embolism – more than deaths from breast cancer, motor vehicle accidents and HIV combined.

Symptoms of DVT

Only about half of the people who have DVT have noticeable symptoms. Symptoms include:

  • Swelling of the legs or arms.
  • Severe pain when standing or walking.
  • Warmer skin in the affected area.
  • Enlarged veins.
  • Bluish or reddish skin.

Risk factors

Although DVT can occur at any age, it is more common in people over 50. Risk factors for DVT include:

  • A family history of DVT.
  • Cancer.
  • Undergoing hormone therapy or taking birth control pills.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Injury to a deep vein caused by surgery or trauma.
  • Having a catheter placed in a vein.
  • Prolonged bed rest that leads to slow blood flow in deep veins.
  • Being overweight or obese.
  • Smoking.

Some people may not realize they have DVT until they are affected by a pulmonary embolism, which leads to low blood oxygen levels, lung damage, heart failure and death.

Signs of this pulmonary embolism are sudden shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing up blood, dizziness, rapid pulse and fever.  If you have any of these symptoms, especially if you are at risk for DVT, seek immediate medical attention.

Treatment for DVT

DVT can be treated with medicines and other devices that reduce the chance of blood clots, stop them from getting bigger, and/or prevent them from breaking off and traveling to vital organs of our body.

The most common medicines to treat DVT are anticoagulants, also called blood thinners, that prevent the formation of new blood clots.

Other treatments include filters implanted in a large vein to catch blood clots before they travel into the bloodstream. Graduated compression stockings are also used to reduce leg swelling caused by blood clots.

If you are at risk for DVT or pulmonary embolism, it is important to take preventive measures. Have regular medical checkups, take your prescribed medicine and exercise regularly – especially your lower leg muscles – after surgery and during long trips.


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Dental implants give woman new smile, new confidence

For Andrea Crookston, taking photos used to mean hiding her smile. Fear and anxiety kept Crookston from going to the dentist every six months as recommended. Instead, she’d only go when the pain was too much for her to bear.

“I’d been in pain for a long time, but I was afraid of the dentist,” she said. “The sound of the drill gives me cold chills.”

Unfortunately, this fear led to many of Crookston’s teeth breaking and needing to be extracted. Eventually, Crookston began having difficulty eating certain foods. She decided to make a commitment to her oral health. This meant major treatment, including either dentures or implants.

Getting treatment

Shortly after she began working at UK Good Samaritan Hospital, Crookston made an appointment with Dr. Ted Raybould, chief of Adult Dentistry at UK Dentistry.

Fillings would not correct the breakdown of Crookston’s remaining natural teeth, Raybould said, so he enlisted the help of two of his colleagues at the College of Dentistry, Dr. Steven Tucker and Dr. Wes Coffman.

Tucker and Coffman used digital technology to show what Crookston’s teeth would look like after an implant procedure. Together, the trio of doctors decided an All-on-4/All-on-X procedure would help achieve the appearance that Crookston desired.

An All-on-4/All-on-X uses four to six titanium dental implants to anchor the bridge of teeth to the jaw. This provides a strong foundation for prosthetic teeth. This procedure is a viable option for patients who are at risk for losing so many of their teeth that they will otherwise need dentures.

Not all oral surgeons know how to perform the All-on-4 procedure, but thanks to the education Coffman is providing to his colleagues and to UK College of Dentistry students, more providers in Kentucky will be able to offer it to their patients.

Looking and feeling better

For Crookston, the doctors decided that the All-on-4 procedure was the best option. Unlike more traditional implant procedures, which require months of healing between treatments, the All-on-4 is done in one session and requires a short recovery time. Crookston missed less work and had fewer treatments.

“I look better and feel better,” Crookston said.

A few months after her procedure, Crookston is happy to take photographs.

“I don’t have to cover my teeth when I smile anymore,” she said.

Although some of her anxieties about going to the dentist have not subsided, she will admit one thing: “The doctors knew best, and everything is fine now because I listened.”


Next steps:

  • Learn more about UK Dentistry, which offers expert comprehensive dental treatment for the entire family, including general, orthodontic and oral surgery services.
  • Visit UK Dentistry on Facebook to stay up to date on community events, programs, treatments, research, new physicians and more.
eclipse safety

How to view the solar eclipse without hurting your eyes

On Aug. 21, sky gazers across the country will be treated to the sight of a total solar eclipse – a once-in-a-lifetime event where the moon passes between the sun and Earth, blocking the sun’s light for a brief period.

This awesome event is cause for excitement – and caution. Staring at the sun without protection – even briefly – can severely damage your eyes, so it’s important to know how to view the eclipse safely.

Here are some tips.

Get special glasses – and beware of fakes

Regular sunglasses will not protect your eyes while looking at the eclipse.

Thankfully, inexpensive special eclipse glasses are available that provide protection while still allowing you to watch the event. Beware, however, of glasses that are marketed as safe for the eclipse, but do not meet NASA’s recommended guidelines.

NASA advises you to only purchase eclipse glasses that are made by American Paper Optics, Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical or TSE 17 and also have the international safety standard ISO 12312-2 printed on them.

Find out if you’re in the path of totality

Although everyone in the continental United States will be able to see some part of the eclipse, only residents along a select path will be able to see the eclipse in totality – or the moment when the sun is completely covered by the moon.

This 70-mile-wide path stretches from the Pacific Northwest to the Southeast and includes portions of Western Kentucky. During the moment of totality, which may last for less than a minute in some locations, it is safe to view the the eclipse without glasses.

For those of us outside of the path of totality, however, glasses must be worn at all times. To see a map of the eclipse’s path of totality, visit NASA’s Eclipse 101 guide.

Follow these tips for a fun, safe viewing

No matter where you’re viewing the eclipse, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Keep a close eye on kids watching the eclipse, and make sure they’re wearing eclipse glasses at all times.
  • Even if you’re wearing proper glasses, don’t view the eclipse through a camera, telescope or binoculars. The concentrated rays that comes through the optical device can damage the eclipse filter on your glasses and cause harm to your eyes.
  • If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them.
  • Look away from the sun when putting on and removing your eclipse glasses. Never take them off while looking at the sun.

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college health

Plan for a healthy start to college

Dr. Ann Hays

Dr. Ann Hays

Written by Dr. Ann Hays, the medical director at University Health Service at UK.

As August begins, college-bound students will begin planning for life on campus this fall.

In between shopping for dorm supplies and registering for classes, new college students should also take a moment to plan for a healthy start to their new lives.

What to bring

When packing for college, students should make sure to bring up-to-date childhood immunization records and copies of their health insurance information. They should also bring a document with the contact information of their home physician along with any known medical conditions, drug allergies, and a list of current medications and dosages.

A first-aid kit is also important. It should include bandages, antiseptic and antibiotic ointment, a digital thermometer, hand sanitizer, acetaminophen or ibuprofen, an antihistamine for allergic reactions, and an anti-itch cream. Some students take this a step further and bring a sick day, cold or flu kit, which includes the items above along with tissues, antibacterial wipes for disinfecting household surfaces, cough syrup and stomach medications.

Immunizations

Before coming to college, incoming students need to make sure their immunizations are up to date.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends college students receive the meningococcal vaccine, Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis) and the HPV series in addition to their routine childhood immunizations, which include Hepatitis A and B, polio, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), and varicella.

Students should also get an influenza vaccine every year to protect themselves from the flu. Also check for any special vaccine requirements specific to the student’s college, university or field of study.

Healthcare on campus

Check to see if the student’s college or university has a student health center. Parents and students will want to familiarize themselves with the particular services available on campus, along with the facility’s location, phone number and website.

If your college doesn’t have a student health service, check with insurance providers to get a list of covered local providers, urgent treatment centers and emergency departments located close to campus. Create a plan so that students can obtain prescription medications while away at school. Transfer prescriptions to a nearby pharmacy or arrange for a mail-order pharmacy to deliver.

Being prepared for unexpected illness or injury and knowing about healthcare options while away at school will make the transition to college much easier for students and families alike.


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bug bites

It’s bug-bite season – do you know how to protect yourself?

You step outside to enjoy the summer sun and before you know it, you’re covered in bug bites. Sound familiar? Insects thrive in hot and humid weather, which means outdoor activities during this time of year can quickly turn into a feeding frenzy if you don’t take precautions.

Bites from insects such as mosquitoes and ticks can cause annoying itchiness and spread more serious diseases, like Zika virus, West Nile virus and Lyme disease. Find out what you can do to keep you and your family safe from bug bites this summer.

Use insect repellent

Use EPA-registered insect repellents that contain DEET for protection against mosquitoes, ticks and other bugs. Other repellents protect against mosquitoes but may not be effective against ticks or other bugs.

If you are also using sunscreen, apply it first, let it dry and then apply repellent. Do not use products that contain both sunscreen and repellent. Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.

Consider using clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks and tents) that are treated with permethrin, which is an insecticide. You can buy pre-treated clothes or treat your own clothes. If treating items yourself, follow instructions carefully. Do not use permethrin directly on skin.

Cover exposed skin

As much as possible, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks and a hat.

Tuck your shirt into your pants and tuck your pants into your socks for maximum protection. Some bugs can bite through thin fabric.

Think about the indoors, too

Choose hotel rooms or other accommodations that are air conditioned or have good window and door screens so bugs can’t get inside. If bugs can get into where you are sleeping, sleep under a permethrin-treated bed net that can be tucked under the mattress.

Protect the little ones

Here are some helpful tips for applying repellent on children:

  • Do not use insect repellents on babies younger than 2 months old.
  • Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus on children younger than 3 years old.
  • Children should not touch repellent. Adults, apply it to your hands and gently spread it over the child’s exposed skin.
  • Do not apply repellent to children’s hands because they tend to put their hands in their mouths.
  • Keep repellent out of the reach of children.

For babies under 2 months old, protect them by draping mosquito netting over their carrier or car seat. Netting should have an elastic edge for a tight fit.

Pregnant women, be careful

Some infections, including Zika, can spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus, so pregnant women should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites while traveling. In the case of Zika, because infection in a pregnant woman is linked to serious birth defects and miscarriage, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that pregnant women not travel to areas with Zika outbreaks.

When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are safe and effective for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

When to seek help

If you’ve been bitten, be sure to see a doctor right away if you experience any of the following:

  • Difficulty breathing.
  • The sensation that your throat is closing.
  • Swollen lips, tongue or face.
  • Chest pain.
  • A racing heartbeat that lasts more than a few minutes.
  • Dizziness.
  • Vomiting.
  • A headache.
  • A red, donut-shaped or target-shaped rash that develops after a tick bite. This could be a sign of Lyme disease, which should be treated with antibiotics.
  • A fever with a red or black, spotty rash that spreads. This could be a sign of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a bacterial infection carried by ticks, which should be treated immediately.

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Alton Boyd

Meet Alton Boyd, UK HealthCare’s friendly first face

Alton Boyd never meets a stranger.

“I’m the type of guy that doesn’t have a frown on his face,” Boyd said. “I like to be a friendly person. I want to know people and what they do.”

His smiling face is the first that many people see when they come to UK HealthCare for an appointment or to visit a sick family member. For six years, Boyd, 86, has worked as an ambassador in the parking garage across from Chandler Hospital. He hands people their tickets at the front gate, provides directions and answers questions. More than that, however, he can, and often does, brighten everyone’s day.

Boyd discovered his people skills in 1967, when he began selling cars for Rudolph Chevrolet in El Paso, Texas.

“I enjoyed every minute,” Boyd said. “I didn’t care whether people bought a car or not. I wanted to make a friend out of every customer so they would remember my name the rest of their lives, and they did. And boy did it pay off for me! They’d bring their kids in there, their aunts and uncles, and I’d sell them a car.”

The story behind the friendly face

Perhaps Boyd’s congenial personality derives in some part from meeting many different people over a life filled with varied careers. He worked in the post office as a young adult when his family lived in Carlsbad, N. M., where his dad had a job in the potash mines.

After retiring from the Marine Corps at age 22, Boyd and his wife at the time returned to Carlsbad. He went back to work at the post office during the day and then fixed cars from 6 p.m. until midnight in order to save enough money to buy a house.

“I did that for about five years and got enough money to pay cash for a house,” Boyd said. “I bought a brand-new three-bedroom house for $11,000, which you can’t do anymore!”

When Boyd moved to El Paso, Texas, to sell cars for Chevrolet, he knew no more about cars, or selling them, than the fact that he liked them. After the first year, Boyd grew frustrated with his lack of sales and lost interest in the job, but his boss must have seen something special in him.

“My boss, Jimmy Godwin, truck manager at that time, said, ‘Alton Boyd, you’re going to live with me for three months. I don’t want you to sell nothing; I’ll just pay you. Every time I move, you stay with me.’ And, you know, the second year I sold 30 cars a month. I couldn’t believe it. I made several $6,000 bonuses.”

During that time, Boyd and his wife purchased more than 30 acres of ranch land, where he planted alfalfa fields, built a house and put up a barn for Quarter Horses, dabbling in breeding and training them for racing.

Boyd sold the ranch and retired from selling cars in 1991, when he and his wife moved to Georgetown, Ky., to be closer to family. However, Boyd loves having something to do every day, so he found a job with Tower Automotive in Bardstown, Ky., for several years before coming to UK.

Loving life and work

Alton Boyd, 86, serves as an ambassador who greets patients and visitors entering the UK HealthCare parking garage. He enjoys helping people and putting a smile on everyone’s face.

Boyd has enjoyed every bit of his interesting life. At an age when many people enjoy retirement, he plans to continue as an ambassador in the UK HealthCare parking garage for as long as he is able, where he can enjoy two of his favorite hobbies: cars and talking to people.

“I love talking to people,” Boyd said. “I want them to smile when they talk to me. I kid them, and they smile and say, ‘Oh, Alton, you know everything about this place.’ I have a lot of people call me by my name. I like to help them with where they’re going, and they appreciate it because they’re lost when they pull in here. That’s what it’s all about. I just like to be friendly. I enjoy doing what I do.”

When Boyd isn’t making friends during work hours, he’s most likely making friends while playing golf or on his occasional visits to the racetrack. Should the opportunity arise someday, he can see himself returning to his favorite place: Rio Dosa, Texas.

However, for now, he’s content making people smile and easing their troubles, if only for a moment, as the first face they see when they enter the UK HealthCare parking garage.


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Tobacco free

We’re tobacco-free. Here’s why.

At UK HealthCare, we are committed to improving the health and well-being of all Kentuckians. As part of that mission, all healthcare sites and UK campus locations – inside and outside as well as parking areas – prohibit the use of tobacco products (cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, snuff, snus, water pipes, pipes, etc.).

Why is UK HealthCare tobacco-free?

  • Simply put, tobacco use takes a significant toll on a person’s overall health. It increases risk for heart disease, stroke and lung cancer, and can cause damage to nearly every organ in the body.
  • Tobacco smoke can make breathing harder for others with asthma or other lung problems.
  • Quitting tobacco has a wide array of health benefits – from a healthier heart and lungs to whiter teeth and fewer wrinkles.
  • Seeing others use tobacco can trigger strong urges in those who are trying to quit.

Be a quitter!

We’re here to help. In fact, many of our patients, visitors and employees have stopped or are trying to stop using tobacco.

You can purchase nicotine replacement gum at the Kentucky Clinic Pharmacy, UK Chandler Hospital Gift Shop and University Health Pharmacy at a very low cost. Tobacco-cessation coaching is also available to our employees at no cost.

For more information to help you or someone you know quit, check out our tips for conquering a tobacco addiction.

Thank you for keeping UK tobacco-free.


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DASH diet

The DASH diet is easy to follow and good for your health

Do you want to eat better, but don’t know where to start? Consider the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet.

The DASH diet was initially created to help lower blood pressure. But studies have also found the DASH diet to be one of the best options to prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes and even some forms of cancer. Research also shows the DASH plan is safe and effective for short-term and permanent weight loss.

The best news is the DASH diet is easy to follow because it does not restrict entire food groups. Because the plan focuses on fresh fruits and veggies, controlling your calories is easier, too. Learn more about the DASH diet below.

What is the DASH diet?

The DASH plan is promoted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. The plan helps reduce the risk for serious health problems because it is low in:

  • Saturated fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Total fat
  • Red meat
  • Sweets
  • Sugary beverages

The DASH diet encourages:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products
  • Whole-grain foods
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Nuts

The DASH diet is also rich in important nutrients such as:

  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Protein
  • Fiber

Tips for following the DASH diet

To reduce the amount of sodium in your diet, try these steps:

  • Choose fresh, frozen or canned vegetables that have low sodium or no added salt.
  • Use fresh poultry, fish or meat instead of canned, smoked or processed options.
  • Limit cured foods such as bacon and ham, foods packed in brine, and condiments.
  • Cook rice or pasta without salt.
  • Cut back on frozen dinners, packaged mixes, and canned soups or broths.
  • Rinse canned foods such as tuna and canned beans to remove some of the salt.
  • Use spices instead of salt to flavor foods.
  • Add fruit to breakfast or have it as a snack.
  • Treat meat as one part of the whole meal, instead of the main focus.

Some days you might eat more sodium or fewer foods from one group than the plan suggests. But don’t worry. Try your best to keep the average on most days close to the DASH plan levels.

Following the DASH diet

Here’s how much of each food group you should eat every day, based on eating 2,000 calories per day.

6-8 servings of whole grains. A serving size is about one slice of bread, 1 ounce of dry cereal or 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta.

4-5 servings of vegetables. A serving size is about 1 cup of raw, leafy vegetable or a 1/2 cup of cut-up raw or cooked vegetables.

4-5 servings of fruits. A serving size is about one medium fruit; 1/4 cup of dried fruit; 1/2 cup of fresh, frozen or canned fruit; or 1/2 cup of real fruit juice.

2-3 servings of fat-free or low-fat dairy. A serving size is about 1 cup of milk or yogurt or 1 1/2 ounces of cheese.

Up to 6 servings of lean meat, poultry, fish. A serving size is about 1 ounce of cooked meat, poultry, or fish, or one egg.

4-5 servings per week of nuts, seeds, legumes: A serving size is about 1/3 cup or 1 1/2 ounces of nuts, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, 2 tablespoons or 1/2 ounce of seeds, 1/2 cup of cooked, dry beans or peas.

2-3 servings of fats and oils: A serving size is about 1 teaspoon of soft margarine, 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon of  mayonnaise or 2 tablespoons of salad dressing.

Up to 5 servings per week of sweets: A serving size is about 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of jelly or jam, 1/2 cup of sorbet or gelatin or 1 cup of lemonade.


Next steps:

massage

Massage might help those who can’t exercise, says UK research

An illness, an accident or even just getting older can limit a person’s ability to exercise. Rest is an essential component of healing, but it also atrophies muscles.

“People who are unable to exercise due to, for example, a recent surgery or illness, lose as much as 3 percent of their muscle mass per week,” said Esther Dupont-Versteegden of the UK College of Health Sciences. “That doesn’t sound like much, but it can make recovery much more difficult, especially for the elderly.”

Dupont-Versteegden and her College of Health Sciences colleague Tim Butterfield have been testing an inexpensive, noninvasive treatment that appears, in preliminary studies, to aid in the recovery of muscle mass and reduce muscle atrophy: massage.

“Our research proposes that massage may stave off atrophy, even if you aren’t able to get up and move around,” she says.

Massage mimics the effects of exercise

Proteins are the basic building blocks of all of the body’s tissues, especially muscle. The complicated metabolic process that turns protein into muscle, called protein synthesis, increases muscle cell size, which in turn strengthens muscle fibers. But one of the crucial ingredients for muscle growth is exercise.

“However, there are times and circumstances in which exercise is not possible, because of a severe illness or surgery, for example,” Dupont-Versteegden says.

According to Butterfield, it appears that massage mimics the effect of exercise by sending signals to the muscle to begin protein synthesis. And there’s perhaps an even more intriguing finding: Massaging one limb seems to confer benefits to its corresponding muscle on the other side as well.

“We’re not sure why yet, but if we could understand the mechanisms for this crossover effect, it could have real healing benefits for patients with wounds to one limb – for example, car accident victims or wounded soldiers,” Butterfield said.

Better health for Kentuckians of all ages

Their initial work is promising enough to earn a five-year, $2.1 million grant from the National Center for Complementary & Integrative Health. The research grant will further their study in conjunction with Benjamin Miller and Karyn Hamilton, both researchers at Colorado State University.

Dr. Scott Lephart, dean of the UK College of Health Sciences, says that Dupont-Versteegden’s and Butterfield’s work demonstrates how research can uncover new, cost-effective ways to improve health for Kentuckians of all ages.

“The loss of skeletal muscle mass and the inability to recover from atrophy are major contributors to disability and a major factor in the elderly’s loss of independence,” Lephart said. “This work exemplifies our college’s commitment to optimizing health for Kentuckians of all ages and beyond.”


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