Motorcycle Helmets

I have always wanted a motorcycle. There is something alluring about cruising around with the wind in your hair and the open road in front of you. What has stopped me from getting said motorcycle is fear. Fear of crashing and the subsequent injuries that come along with it.

Inexplicably not every state in the US requires helmets to be worn while riding a motorcycle. Currently only 19 states require helmets. 19!!!! What on earth are the other 31 waiting for? Is it even arguable that wearing helmets makes a difference?

The government estimates that the US could have saved $1.5 billion if people were wearing helmets when they were in an accident. The CDC has noted that in states where there is an option on helmets, helmet use goes down and deaths go up. 2012 saw close to 5,000 motorcycle deaths, a 9% increase from 2011.

With all of this being said Michigan decided to repeal their helmet law last year, requiring only those under 21 to wear one. Want to guess what happened?

For the two years prior to the change the average medical claim for a motorcycle injury was $5140. After the change…$7,257, a 34% increase.

Now look I am sure that the vice president of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation is a really nice guy but what he says here is just ridiculous. The vice president dismissed the study, saying the insurance industry views helmets as ‘‘the silver bullet that’s going to change the landscape of motorcycle safety.’’ He said insurers are upset because ‘‘ life has gotten more expensive for them and they have to pay out more.’’

First off if I was an insurance company and I had to pay out more because you didn’t want to wear a helmet, I would be ripped…never mind upset!

As a chiropractor, I have seen the devastating effects that closed head injuries cause. These injuries could have been avoided or at the very least a lot less severe if the people had been wearing helmets.

If you are riding a motorcycle this summer or thinking of getting one, please, please, please wear a helmet. Your loved ones and even your insurance company will thank you for it!

No Appointments Really?

Back in the day, OK last year, I used to have patients make appointments.  With everyone as busy as a beaver the following would be a common occurrence in my office:

(Phone Rings) Hello Harrington Family Chiropractic

(Patient) Hi, my name is Linda and I am running 15 minutes late for my 10:00 appointment.  Is it OK for me to show up at 10:15 or should I reschedule.

(Looking in book) 10:15 is fine, we will see you then

(10 minutes later) Hi, it is Linda again, the traffic is much worse than I thought and I will now be there at 10:25 is that OK?

(Staff) Yes that is fine we will see you then.

Linda is stressed, the staff is stressed and all for what?  An appointment time?  It never made sense to me and a few years ago we decided to end the madness.

See we don’t think that you should be stressed out due to a perception that you are “late” for your appointment.  If the goal of my office is to take the stress off of you and your spine, walking in the door stressed due to your “lateness” is a terrible way to start your office visit.

I must admit that our office isn’t for everyone.  It is an open concept that allows us to see what is going on in the office from everywhere.  This allows us to see multiple people at once.  While someone is getting adjusted, another is stretching and yet another may be sitting on some ice.

Due to this openness we are able to run the office as a walk in style clinic.  We don’t worry about what time you get there and we certainly don’t want you worrying about what time you get here.  It makes for a pleasant way to get your spine taken care of.

The most asked question I get is, “Doc, what happens if 20 people show up at once?”  Well, I have never had that happen, however, if it starts too, I will hire more staff!  It will be a good problem to have.

As always, you can check my hours on the website.  If it says we are open, come on over.  If you are driving any distance I always recommend that you check with us to make sure we are there.  I would estimate that I am here 99% of the time that the hours say I will be, however, there are things that come up from time to time.

Currently our hours are as follows:

Mon, Tue, Thur—8-12 & 3-6:30

Wed, Fri—9-12

Weekends and after hours by appointment.

If you want to check to make sure I am in before you head over you can always email the office at drkevdc@gmail.com or call us at 978-369-5055.

What Do You Mean You Don’t Take Appointments?

Concord MA Chiropractor
Look close for your appointment time

Imagine you are working and your neck is killing you.  You call my office and make an appointment for 11:00.  Of course at 10:50 one of your customers calls and you run a few minutes late taking care of your business.  You hurry off the phone and set a land speed record getting to the office.  You run it at 11:07, out of breath and apologizing for being late.  Is this anyway to start a visit where I am going to ask you to relax and let me do some work on you?  Of course not!

After a few years of having set appointments I noticed people were coming into the office a few minutes late and were stressed about it.  Now I gotta tell you, stressed out patients are not ready to receive adjustments, they are in a word…stressed. It is no way to to get your spine worked on.

After a couple of years of this, I decided to radically change my office and we took out the appointment book.  Gone are the phone calls if you are running 10 minutes late.  Who isn’t running 10 minutes late from time to time?

In oder to better serve our clients, we now give them times when we are in the office.  If I am in from 8-noon on a Monday, why do I care if you come in at 8:11 or 9:02?

Well Doc, what happens if there are a few people in front of me? The reality is, the initial office procedure, the adjustment, doesn’t take that long.  99% of our patients are seen within 10 minutes.  10 minutes!!  People almost can’t believe it.

Are there times when we are busier than others?  No doubt, but it really seems to work out.  If you have ever seen our office, it is an open environment where people actually, GASP, talk to each other.  As a matter of fact, one of my stated goals is that 2 people who meet in my office will get married.  It hasn’t happened yet, but we are working on it!!!

If you have ever sat in a doctors office stressed that you were 10 minutes late, then they make you wait another 20 minutes, I want you to remember what we are doing here…stress free, little waiting, people having fun, chiropractic.

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Can We Trust the FDA?

fda-logoThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a federal agency in the Department of Health and Human Services established to regulate the release of new foods and health-related products.  Health related products includes but are not limited to medicine, cosmetics, supplements, and even certain veterinary products.  Their mission is to be responsible for ensuring that foods are safe, wholesome and sanitary; human and veterinary drugs, biological products and medical devices are safe and effective; cosmetics are safe; and electronic products that emit radiation are safe.

In a nutshell, we trust them to have our back when new products hit the market.

There have always been whispers that the FDA was ignoring the risks of artificial sweeteners, that they had been bought off by the companies that produced and used them.  MSG was another one that people have forever said the FDA is looking the other way despite mounting evidence that it may not be all that great for you.

Most of these claims were written off to conspiracy theorists with nothing better to do…..until now.

The FDA recently came out and admitted that 2 senators and 2 representatives from New Jersey placed undo influence on the FDA to approve a knee operation patch made by the company ReGen Biologics, which happens to be located in New Jersey.  The well wishing senators claim that the money that was donated to their coffers, around $26,000, had nothing to do with the pressure they put on the FDA, they were merely looking out for a constituent company.

Here is how it went down.  The agency’s scientists for years unanimously ruled that this device was unsafe due to a high failure rate, forcing the patient to have another surgery.  A clinical trial of the device failed to show that it worked any better than routine surgery.  That should have been the end of it, however, the agency managers overruled the scientists and approved the device for use.

The FDA’s report said that its Office of Legislation began receiving calls from members of Congress in December 2007 complaining about its review of the device, and the office’s director “described the pressure from the Hill as the most extreme he had seen.”

With all this pressure from the Congress the FDA caved and approved a device that does not appear to work.  The San Antonio Spurs, of the NBA, orthopedic physician Dr. David R. Schmidt said he was involved in the original clinical trial of ReGen’s Menaflex device and concluded that patients did not benefit. He said he was surprised that the FDA approved it.

In January, the Government Accountability Office concluded that it was long past time that the agency demanded that manufacturers prove that all complex devices are safe and effective before being approved for sale.

What should we make of this?  Do we need more oversight?  Do we really want politicians placing calls to the FDA to approve things that shouldn’t get approved?

Hopefully in the future these agencies can stay above the fray of campaign finance and rule on things as they see fit.

Doctors Getting Paid To Market Drugs

Drug Marketing
Drug Marketing

A while back I wrote a post on a drug company, Eli Lilly, using ghost writers to write favorable articles and having doctor’s sign their names to them as if they had written them.  You can read that here.  At best it is a murky situation.

Recently, Eli Lilly was back in the news here in Boston, when the Boston Globe reported that at least 60 area doctors received more than a half million dollars in speakers fees.

A very common practice in the drug industry is to hire physicians as speakers , provide them with the literature on the drug they are marketing, and turn them loose speaking on behalf of the company that hired them.

Imagine the difference in credibility between a drug salesman and a renowned doctor.  When that doctor, whom may be at the top of their field, speaks people will listen.  The drug companies know this and have very smartly used the doctor’s credibility to help them push drugs through these talks.  The question I have is this:  Hasn’t that doctor become nothing more that a glorified drug salesman?  Is their credibility now under fire?  I think it has to be and I am not alone in those thoughts.

Mass General researcher, Eric Campbell found out that 16% of all US doctors and 25% of hospital department heads belong to one speaking bureau or another.  Mr Campbell is quoted as saying, “Academics who want to be drug salesmen should go be drug salesman. But don’t do it under the shroud of academia.’’

Everyone from politicians to other physicians are voicing concern that these company paid doctors cannot give unbiased information, whether that may be downplaying the side effects of a drug or not talking about the generic equivalent which would cost less.

What do these doctor’s whom are paid this money say?  They claim they vet all information and would only present material that they believe in, even if the company is the one providing the material.  They also claim these talks are great ways to educate other doctors about new drugs.  Although one doctor did admit he was doing the talks in order to cover his children’s college tuition.

The public is starting to wake up to this and put pressure on these companies to disclose their financial relationship with doctors.  To their credit Eli Lilly released a list of all their paid speakers.  Good for them, it is nice to see that the much asked for transparency is starting to become reality.

Because of this debate and other problems – pharmaceutical firms have paid millions in fines for illegally marketing medications – companies are under political pressure to disclose their financial relationships with doctors. Lilly is one of the first companies to publicly release a list of paid consultants and speakers.

In January the FDA reported they were fining Eli Lilly 1.4 billion dollars for illegally marketing a drug.  That is a lot of money until you realize that Eli Lilly did 20.38 billion in sales in 2008.

The drug they are getting fined over….in 2006 did 4.7 billion in sales.

Now let me ask you this, if I told you I would let you market a drug to 4.7 billion in sales, but if you get caught you would have to pay a fine of 1.4 billion would you take that deal?  Darn right you would.

Paying doctors to market drugs needs a complete overhaul.  We need to be demanding complete transparency.  Good for Eli Lilly to be the first one to do it, let’s hope it keeps going.

Is This Bad Economy a Good Thing?

Crazy right, how could there be a silver lining in the economy cloud?  Well if you are a little older in age and this economy has forced you to rethink retiring, it may be saving your brain.

There is a promising study out of Britain that studied  medical records of 382 men whose Alzheimer’s symptoms emerged around age 75. They found that, all other factors being equal, the symptoms were delayed about seven weeks for each extra year the men worked.

It is very perplexing as to why certain people stay mentally sharp and others aren’t.  There is some thought that people posses a trait called cognitive reserve.  The reserve refers to the brains ability to cope with damage.  The more damage, the greater the chance of Alzheimer’s.   The theory is the more you expose yourself to mentally challenging activities, things like; education, work, and volunteering, the more reserve you build.  The more reserve you have the better the chance you have off fending off memory loss and dementia.

Unfortunately there is not easy answer as to how much is the right amount.

If you are looking to keep active here are some great choices:

  • Volunteer.  There are so many organizations that need your time.  This is a win win.  You help out a worthy organization and keep your brain charged up.  Get more information here…http://www.volunteermatch.org/
  • Get a pet.  Especially if you are alone.  There are a lot of studies out that show having someone to care for at home will help with fighting dementia.
  • Work part time.  There are companies out there that would love to have a reliable, nice person working for them

What does not appear to have any benefit are the brain exercise products, often sold as computer based games.  A Rhode Island company, reviewed all of the existing trials on such products and concluded in a study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia this spring that loss of memory was not helped with these products.

Shameless plug.  There is some talk that better blood flow to the brain equates to a lower chance of getting a certain type of Alzheimer’s.  Chiropractors improve the bio mechanics in the neck area, thus improving blood flow to that region.  Is this a cure, most definitely not.  Is there a chance it could help….we’ll see.

The one thing that everyone can agree on…get and stay active.  Use it or lose it does not apply only to muscles, it appears to also do the brain a lot of good.

What are you or a loved one doing to stay active?  Please comment below.