(BPT) - People are more connected now than ever before thanks to the globalization of technology, international travel, commerce and industry. But this interconnectedness also means that health concerns, which were once limited to a community, can have a global impact. The Zika virus, the outbreak recently declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO), is the latest example of a foreign health issue that quickly raised concern within our borders.
Nurses are using the technology that connects us to prepare for this new reality. Through virtual simulation education, they are learning to care for diverse populations and practicing global health scenarios including epidemics, rare illnesses and other infectious diseases.
"Globalization has changed our approach to health care. Viral diseases can spread rapidly, so we have to be ready," says Dee McGonigle, professor in Chamberlain College of Nursing's Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program. "Virtual learning environments provide valuable, interactive education on best practices for patient safety and disease containment in a real-time scenario that mimics real life."
Dr. McGonigle heads up the college's 3-D Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). During the Ebola outbreak in 2014, she and several colleagues built the Virtual Ebola Treatment Center (VETC) in Second Life, a virtual world created by its global community of users. In Second Life, users - known as residents - are represented by avatars that can walk, run, sit, stand, fly and interact with other residents.
Chamberlain students learned how to admit and care for Ebola patients by practicing scenarios in the VETC within Second Life. Faculty from the MSN Informatics specialty track facilitated and mentored students through the risk-free virtual learning experience.
Like the Zika virus, the Ebola crisis was a wake-up call that proved how quickly disease can spread and how important it is to be prepared. Seemingly overnight, health care professionals and students nationwide were tasked with developing expertise on a disease that was previously of little concern to U.S. citizens.
"Nurses around the world were looking for answers," says Dr. McGonigle. "We knew we had the opportunity to build a critical training tool to prepare our students to treat Ebola patients."
Chamberlain alumna Kellany Cadogan-Noland, now a clinical learning lab specialist at Chamberlain, utilized Second Life for her MSN Informatics Specialty Track nursing project. Second Life nursing projects are designed to help those who cannot complete them in a real-world situation because of geographic or other limitations.
Cadogan-Noland used the VETC to test potential responses to an Ebola outbreak in the United States. She collaborated with mentors around the country to determine which infrastructures and clinical processes - such as clinical dressing locations for hospital staff - were most effective at disease containment. Within weeks of completing her project, the West African outbreak had spread to the United States. Cadogan-Noland and her team adjusted their VETC strategy to implement and test containment plans as they were announced by the WHO.
"I benefitted more from Second Life than I would have through an onsite project because we could adapt the virtual environment to our learning needs so quickly," Cadogan-Noland says. "I was able to quickly test scenarios through simulations. We couldn't have accomplished this within such a short timeframe in a brick and mortar facility."
Chamberlain faculty and students can easily adapt their model of virtual simulation education to address other emerging global health issues like the Zika virus, giving nurses like Cadogan-Noland an extraordinary window to the rest of the world. Dr. McGonigle and other Chamberlain leaders behind the VETC are planning more interprofessional collaboration in the future to explore new innovative applications of the virtual learning experience for their students.
"The quality of virtual learning is continually evolving with enhanced technology and feedback from putting simulation methods into practice," says Dr. McGonigle. "We have so much more to discover with virtual learning. We are just getting started as we use it this to educate nurses who will go on to transform health care worldwide."
Understanding the Yawn
(Family Features) Yawning is a natural part of everyday life, yet this simple phenomenon has some rather curious and mysterious features.
To help you learn more about yawning, Dr. Sujay Kansagra, a sleep health consultant for Mattress Firm and the director of Duke University’s Pediatric Neurology Sleep Medicine Program, offers answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.
Why do I yawn?
Do I yawn only when I’m sleepy?
Why do I yawn when I see someone else yawning?
Why am I yawning right now?
I frequently see dogs yawning. Do all animals yawn?
For more information about yawning, visit StopYawnTalking.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
(BPT) - Like many people facing a chronic disease diagnosis, Renee Rodriguez felt utterly alone. After a lifetime of battling illnesses and infections, Rodriguez's immunologist told her she had Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID), a type of Primary Immunodeficiency (PI). Rodriguez had never heard of PI, and she certainly didn't know anyone who had it. PI is a group of nearly 300 rare, chronic disorders in which part of the body's immune system is missing or functions improperly.  
Rodriguez battled these infections her whole life, but she never considered there might be something wrong. As a school teacher, Rodriguez was always around children and simply figured she was more susceptible to germs than others. It wasn't until Rodriguez began experiencing severe joint pain - often with flare ups leaving her bedridden - that she began seeking answers.
"When I learned I had PI and may need treatments for the rest of my life, I didn't know what it meant for my future. I needed answers, and I wanted to talk to somebody who understood what I was going through," Rodriguez says.
Rodriguez's quest for answers quickly led her to MyIgSource, a patient support program from Baxalta. She called the MyIgSource patient support line hoping someone could point her in the right direction.
"As a newly diagnosed patient, that first phone call was more comforting than I could have ever imagined," Rodriguez says. "Suddenly, I had access to education and to a group of people who would support my journey and understood what I was going through because they had been there. I knew they were sincere about helping me."
MyIgSource is a program designed to support patients and caregivers through each step of their journey with PI. A team of Patient and Nurse Advocates* are equipped to address patient needs by providing access to valuable educational tools, clinical support for Baxalta immune globulin (Ig) products, and insurance and financial support. Most importantly, the patient advocates are skilled in building strong one-on-one relationships with patients and caregivers to connect them to their community and provide unbiased emotional support regardless of their treatment, reinforcing that they are not alone.
"Community connection is critical in coping with chronic disease. MyIgSource was my lifeline during a formative time in my PI journey," Rodriguez says.
Because of her experience, Rodriguez was compelled to give back to others who were facing a similar diagnosis. She was thrilled to learn of the opportunity to join the MyIgSource team as a Patient Advocate to tell her story and help inspire others.
"After facing a scary diagnosis, it was life-changing to know there was somebody on the other line who I could truly depend on and trust. It is incredibly rewarding to get to be that person on the other line now. I'm so proud to be a part of the MyIgSource team. Every day I can give back a little bit of what was given to me, and that's priceless."
For more information about PI and MyIgSource, visit www.MyIgSource.com.
*Nurse advocates cannot provide medical advice. For medical questions, please consult your doctor.
 Blaese RM, Bonilla FA, Stiehm ER, Younger ME, eds. Patient & Family Handbook for Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases. 5th ed. Towson, MD: Immune Deficiency Foundation; 2013.
 Bousfiha A, Jeddane I, AlHerz W, et al. The 2015 IUIS phenotypic classification for primary immunodeficiencies. J Clin Immunol. 2015; 35(8): 727-738.
Serving Those Who Served
(Family Features) When Cpl. Matt Foster left Afghanistan after his tour of duty in 2013, he didn’t know whether he would ever see his K-9 partner again.
For nine months, Foster and Sgt. Mick, a black Labrador retriever, lived and worked together keeping the military compound at Camp Leatherneck and the surrounding area in Helmand Province safe from explosive attack.
Foster’s interest in becoming a military dog handler in the Marine Corps came from a high school friend who served and ultimately lost his life in Afghanistan.
“I’d always loved dogs and this seemed like a good fit for me,” he said. “Only a certain number of dogs are assigned to a unit, so I was fortunate to be selected.”
After being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps, Foster did not give up in his quest to adopt Mick. The 7-year-old Lab had been discharged for medical reasons and Foster said he lost count of the number of adoption forms he sent attempting to be reunited with his dog.
“It is very difficult for a Marine infantry K-9 handler to keep his dog when he returns from active duty overseas,” Foster recalled. “Once back in California, the dogs go on a truck to North Carolina to be redeployed, and generally we never see them again.”
That, in fact, is what happened with one of Foster’s two explosives detection dogs.
“Macey, a chocolate Lab, was my first dog and Mick joined us later,” he said. “Macey and Mick were my babies; we lived, ate and slept together for more than a year.”
“When I first got Mick back, I was worried that I might not be able to take care of him,” he recalled. “After what you go through with your dog in the service and then adopt them afterward, you wouldn’t want to say goodbye to your partner because you couldn’t afford to take care of him.”
Once military and police dogs retire, with no guaranteed pension for their medical care, the burden and cost of care often fall solely on their caregivers. Now an advocate for military dog adoption, Foster has joined The Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve and the RIMADYL K-9 Courage program to help other retired military dogs and handlers.
The RIMADYL K-9 Courage Program is a charitable healthcare donation program that, together with The Sage Foundation and National Police Dog Foundation, provides financial and in-kind product donations of $150,000 annually to support the veterinary needs for up to 500 retired police and military K-9s.
“I’m a big believer in the power of the human-animal bond, and I think anyone who loves a dog can relate to that special relationship,” said J. Michael McFarland, DVM, DAPVP, Group Director, Companion Animal Marketing for Zoetis, the company behind the program. “But it goes to another level with these former working dogs. I think it’s difficult for most of us to even comprehend how special that relationship is.”
Foster agrees: “I know firsthand the wear and tear on these dogs while they are in service, and having a program to help offset their medical needs is very helpful.”
Officer without a pension
“Dano is an extraordinary dog,” said Senior Deputy Sheriff Danielle Delpit of her K-9 partner. “He’s been injured, tazed and involved in two critical incidents.”
One of those incidents resulted in Dano saving his human partner’s life. For his bravery, the German shepherd received the first National Police Dog Foundation Hero Award.
Recently, Delpit noticed that Dano, now 7 1/2 years old, was slowing down and she reluctantly decided it was time for him to retire.
“As his handler, I am looking out for his best interests first. He couldn’t jump into the car like he used to, I could tell he was in pain,” she said.
After Dano’s retirement, it became Delpit’s responsibility to care for him.
“While on active duty, Dano’s veterinary care was covered. But now that he is retired, it is up to me,” she explained. “Dano has injuries; he has a bad back and I know he will eventually have arthritis. The RIMADYL K-9 Courage Program will give me peace of mind to know I’ll have help to give him the healthcare he deserves.”
Even before Dano’s retirement, Delpit decided not to have another K-9 partner.
“There can never be a replacement for that one special dog. He’s not only made me a better police officer, he’s made me a better person,” she said.
K-9s in service
An estimated 1,775 military dogs are actively working to protect military personnel. Each dog saves as many as 150-200 service men and women by detecting explosives and hidden weapons caches.
In an average year, 300-400 dogs retire, but it’s not required that a military dog serving overseas be returned to the United States at retirement. Legislation is pending in Congress to mandate their return for U.S. adoption.
The Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve (www.sagefoundationfordogs.org) works to promote the welfare of dogs who have faithfully served in wars, police work, crime prevention and rescue. Their work includes education and public awareness, as well as making medical care available for these hero dogs.
Today, law enforcement dogs are used at the local, county, state and federal levels, and are considered full-fledged police officers. Unlike their human counterparts, however, these officers do not receive a pension.
With a mission of making K-9 teams mission-ready and self-sustaining, the National Police Dog Foundation (www.nationalpolicedogfoundation.org) provides funding for the purchase, training and medical needs for police dogs through retirement.
You can help
Look and Feel Your Best This Summer
(Family Features) Spring is upon us, and with the warmer weather itâ€™s time to step up your beauty routine.
After months of being crammed in closed-toe shoes, it could be time to give your feet a little extra love. Or perhaps itâ€™s time to lighten up your locks, update your wardrobe or give your skin a little more color. Beyond how these little things make you look on the outside, they also make you feel great on the inside.
Give your skin the perfect glow
Spray tanning has come a long way in the past decade â€“ no more streaking or orange tint. Itâ€™s easy to get that perfect shade in just a visit or two and with a few simple tips and tricks, you can extend the life of your spray tan to maximize results.Â
The first steps in getting the perfect sunless tan happen before you even get to the tanning salon:
Once youâ€™ve left the salon, you can expect your sunless tan to last anywhere from three to seven days. Protect your glow and extend the life of your tan by:
Making a spray tan a part of your spring beauty routine will help get you ready for summer not only with a healthy glow, but with more confidence. For more information, visit PalmBeachTan.com.
(BPT) - Did you know a simple test of your legs may be able to tell you if you have a higher risk for heart disease?
The test is quick, painless and non-invasive. A health professional fits pressure cuffs around your ankles and upper arms, and uses a small ultrasound device to measure the systolic blood pressure in your limbs. It is simple and painless. The disease is called Peripheral Arterial Disease or PAD.
Why is this important?
Heart disease is the leading killer of Americans of all age groups, races and genders. Detecting heart disease risks early is important in order to live an active and healthy life for as long as possible. Yet the general public remains largely unaware of PAD as indicator of heart blockages.
A recent study by University of California researchers, published in the journal Circulation Research, found a strong link between PAD and coronary artery disease and stroke. PAD occurs when fatty deposits build up in the small arteries outside the heart, and it usually affects the arteries that supply blood to legs and feet, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). The condition can not only cause tissue damage in the affected area, it could be a sign of chronic blockages throughout the arteries in a person's body. About 8 million Americans have PAD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Shockingly, the CDC says that 40 percent of people who have PAD may have no symptoms at all, and so be unaware they have the condition. This is why it is important to get screened. You may not have any idea that you are at risk. Having a screening may give you a hint at what lie in your future - in time to do something about it.
People who do have symptoms may feel muscle pain in the calves, hips and thighs while doing any kind of exercise that involves leg muscles - such as walking or climbing stairs, or experience cold legs, wounds that heal poorly or slowly, and burning, tingling or numbness in the legs.
Common PAD risk factors include:
* Smoking - The AHA says people who smoke may have four times the risk of developing PAD.
* Being overweight or obese
* A sedentary lifestyle
* High cholesterol
* High blood pressure
* Family history
* Age - Approximately 12-20 percent of people older than 60 have PAD, according to the CDC.
Because you can have PAD and experience no symptoms, many people may be unaware they have it - and that they're at greater risk for developing heart disease. While health insurance may cover a PAD test for people who show symptoms of the disease, health experts recommend anyone with certain risk factors should be screened.
You don't need a doctor's prescription or a trip to the doctor's office to have the test done; Life Line Screening performs affordable PAD testing in community settings throughout the country. To find out when a screening clinic may be scheduled in your area visit www.lifelinescreening.comm/HeartCheck or call (877) 754-9631.
(BPT) - Are you living your happiest life? How does your mood affect your health? Is happiness contagious? Researchers are finding these questions are worth asking, and multiple studies show happiness dramatically improves health, productivity, family bonds and even life expectancy. So it’s no surprise that the impact happiness has on people has spawned an initiative to spread happiness throughout the world.
So what can you do to live your happiest life? Researchers say it starts with choosing happiness. Making a conscious choice to be happy positively affects a person’s mood, and over time, can reset a person’s default happiness level, according to two recent studies published in The Journal of Positive Psychology.
Here’s a look at several ways to choose to be happy, including:
Savor happy moments, in the moment. An individual’s brain is hardwired to remember bad experiences more than good ones as a basis for survival. When something good happens, stopping to savor that moment helps to solidify it in the brain and re-wire it for happiness, according to Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist and author of Hardwiring Happiness.
Connect with happy people. To be happy, spend time with happy people. It may seem like common sense, but researchers from Harvard found over the course of a 20-year study, the happiness of one person can increase the happiness of others in their network by an astounding 25 percent.
“In my job, I see firsthand how easily happiness spreads from one person to the next,” says Courtney Gastelo, a bartender at RA Sushi, which has several locations across the U.S. “That’s why RA Sushi‘s Happy Hour is so popular — we bring our guests together in a fun atmosphere where they can relax and enjoy great food and drinks with their friends.”
Gastelo recommends not waiting for the weekend; invite friends out for sushi and enjoy Happy Hour any day of the week. Doing so will positively affect the mood of everyone involved, “and science says it’s good for humanity,” she says.
Choose experiences over things. The value of new life experiences also creates happiness. That’s the finding of research from San Francisco State University, which shows that having a new life experience outweighs material purchases when it comes to long-term impact on happiness.
New life experiences don’t have to be expensive trips to exotic locations; they can be as simple as taking a dance class, mastering a cooking skill, trying a new food or learning how to speak another language.
Exercise. Hitting the road or the weights can turn a bad day into a good one. Research from the University of Bristol shows exercising on workdays has an even bigger impact on mood. It’s because exercising releases endorphins that have a powerful effect on happiness.
Going for a walk or hike outside has the added benefit of sunshine and fresh air, too. For an even more powerful happiness boost, researchers suggest finding an exercise buddy.
(BPT) - We can watch television programs, such as The Bachelor or The Real Housewives, and recognize that what we are seeing is a contrived "reality." But with programs like The Biggest Loser, Fit to Fat to Fit and Extreme Weight Loss, the lines become blurred. The contestants are losing weight, so it must be real, right?
The "real" reality of weight loss is complex and unique to each individual. And the truth is that safe and sustainable weight loss takes time. But weight loss on "reality" television would lead you to believe that losing 50 or more pounds in just a few weeks is possible.
Eliza Kingsford, a licensed psychotherapist and certified personal trainer, says this skewed perception of what constitutes "successful" weight loss isn't just wrong; it's dangerous - especially to people desperate to lose weight.
"I call it 'The Biggest Loser Effect,' this idea that unless you're losing enormous amounts of weight each week, you are failing," she says. "These programs do a disservice to the public - and especially teens - because they don't show the full story, and they foster a dangerous expectation."
Kingsford, who has worked with former weight loss reality show participants, says that behind the scenes contestants claim they sweat in saunas, exercise 6-8 hours per day and eat severely restricted diets. So while the quick and dramatic weight loss makes for entertaining television, these tactics cannot be sustained for long periods of time.
At Wellspring Camps, the nation's leading provider of health and wellness camps for children, teens, young adults and families, the popularity of extreme weight loss television has required the staff to re-educate its campers and their parents about what healthy and realistic weight loss really looks like. Kingsford, who serves as executive director, recommends keeping these three things in mind before starting a weight loss journey as a family:
Set expectations early. Gradual and steady weight loss, about two pounds per week, leads to greater success, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While it's natural for people to want to lose weight quickly, Kingsford says when you rush it, your efforts will backfire.
"The true measure of success is consistently engaging in healthy behaviors over time. This includes a diet of nutrient dense whole foods and incorporating exercise," she says. "At the very beginning, adjust your thinking that success means sticking to your daily goals for activity and behavior, not a weight goal. Over time, with consistent behavior change those numbers will add up, and you'll have made long-term, sustainable changes."
Don't compare one person to another. The biological differences in our bodies - from gender, age, height, genetics and metabolism - all play a significant role in how much weight a person will lose and the rate at which they'll lose it. That's why Kingsford says weight loss shouldn't be a competition, especially if you have children of the opposite sex trying to lose weight at the same time.
"While some people enjoy a little healthy competition, when it comes to weight loss, men and women, and boys and girls, are not on a level playing field," she says. "It's better to motivate one another through encouragement and support, not by comparing numbers on a scale."
Recognize it's a process. Kingsford says the key to losing weight is sustainability - finding activities you enjoy that also fit into your life and making healthier eating a part of your everyday routine. That's not to say there won't be a few bumps in the road.
"Habits are hard to break and, sometimes, you reach for a cookie when you know an apple is a better choice, but that's OK. Own your decisions, accept them and let them go," Kingsford says. "Make a commitment to yourself that your next decision will be in line with your goals. When you beat yourself up, it's easy to throw in the towel and undo all the hard work you've already put in, plus it doesn't get you any closer to your goals."
For additional tips and inspiration for family fitness, visit the Wellspring Camps blog or learn more about Wellspring Camps by calling (877) 796-2130.
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