LEXINGTON, KY. (Sept. 29, 2014) -- We've strayed far from the Dr. Marcus Welby persona -- in popular television, at least. But even Dr. Gregory House, the irascible main character in the Fox television drama, has moments of compassion.
In real life, compassion is still very much an important part of a physician's practice. And there is perhaps no clearer example of a physician's need for compassion than in the treatment of headaches.
Chronic pain -- including headaches -- affects more than 36 million Americans. But the vague nature of symptoms and a lack of patient awareness often inhibit sufferers from seeking help. Furthermore, some doctors aren't completely aware of the full range of pain management options or even that headache pain of unknown origin is a legitimate thing. Sufferers end up limping through life, thinking there's no help for them, maybe even thinking it's all in their head.
Their personal and family lives aren't the only casualties. One study estimates that migraines cost employers $13 billion in lost productivity each year. Tonya Morgan has first-hand knowledge of that.
The 30-year-old chemist had experienced occasional migraines all through college, but one day in 2011 came a headache that wouldn't go away.
"I couldn't even get out of bed, let alone go to work," Morgan remembers. Her pain was so debilitating that her mother moved to Georgetown from Owen County to help out. They visited many doctors for answers, without relief.
Going from full-time work to having no life at all was emotionally devastating for Morgan. "I was so sensitive to noise that I could lie in my bed and hear my mother down the hall eating potato chips. Going to a restaurant, driving, going to church -- all of those became unbearable. I was miserable."
After 11 one-week stints at the Cleveland Clinic, Morgan was told she required extremely risky brain surgery. By now she was being prescribed upwards of 30 different types of medicine a day. "They weren't working," Morgan says flatly.
Instead of the surgery, Morgan ended up seeing Dr. Siddharth Kapoor, director of the Headache Clinic at the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute at UK HealthCare.
"The first thing he said to me was, 'I promise I won't give you any more meds unless we can prove they're working,'" Morgan says. "I could tell immediately that he cared about me and my pain and would do everything he could to fix it."
Dr. Kapoor and his colleague Dr. Jonathan Smith, spend a lot of time with each patient, learning as much as possible about their headaches and finding the most effective way to alleviate them. Others echo Morgan's devotion to these physicians -- their letters of praise are filled with words like "caring," "patient," "empathetic," and "godsend." Many of them say Drs. Kapoor and Smith gave them their personal cell numbers or came in on their lunch breaks to administer a needed treatment. Some of them say they'd never heard of a headache doctor until they met Kapoor and Smith. All of them say they now have their lives back.
"Headache is an extremely complex neurological process, and there usually isn't a quick fix for pain relief," Kapoor says. "Unless you spend a lot of time with each patient, listening to their problems and asking a lot of questions, it's nearly impossible to find the right way to help them."
In Morgan's case, Kapoor tried several options without success. Nerve blocks helped, but with temporary and decreasing effect. After consultation with other UK physicians, Morgan underwent a procedure called radiofrequency ablation, during which high-frequency electric current is targeted at specific nerves in the brain, destroying the tissue responsible for Morgan's headaches. She is now headache free.
"Myths about headache abound," Smith says. "For example, the emphasis of diet as a trigger for migraine isn't panning out. And the theory that migraines are caused by changes in blood vessels in the brain has been debunked."
Smith explains that, historically, the only option for headache relief was symptom management, but new research into understanding headache triggers and the neurological processes involved combined with advances in pain management have leveled the playing field somewhat.
"We can now attack headache on many fronts," says Smith, ticking the options off on his fingers. "We can try to prevent migraines using existing drugs, such as blood pressure or anti-seizure medicines or antidepressants. Botox, which appears to deactivate the pain fibers in the head, offers potential relief. Nerve blocks are useful for acute treatment. If none of those work, there are other options, like Tonya's ablation."
Furthermore, Smith says, there has been more understanding and acceptance of non-medical treatments for headache, such as biofeedback and acupuncture. In other words, he says, "We've come a long way from 'take two aspirin and call me in the morning.'"
Indeed, UK has come a long way as well, with its headache program considered among the top 20 accredited programs in the country. UK HealthCare's Orofacial Pain program, which complements the services of the Headache Clinic, is one of just 12 accredited programs nationally, and the only one in the entire midwest and south.
"Headache is quite complicated, but because we are a multi-disciplinary program, we can coordinate resources to treat the patient," Kapoor says. "We have a range of treatments available for headache sufferers that is unmatched in this area, including the only orofacial pain clinic in the state. With a combination of the right treatments along with lifestyle changes, it can bring about a significant change in the management of headaches."
Morgan has resumed a normal life, driving, working, and attending Zumba classes. Her mother has moved to a new place close by, and now has some freedom to pursue her own personal interests. Both of them have a new appreciation for their good health, which Morgan "pays it forward" by teaching a health class at her church.
"I want everyone to know that headaches are not a life sentence," she says. "There is hope if you get to the right person. I'm living proof of that."
Media Contact: Laura Dawahare, email@example.com
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 19, 2014) – A new web-based program developed by University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center researchers will provide a simple, free way for healthcare providers to determine which brain tumor cases require testing for a genetic mutation.
Gliomas – a type of tumor that begins in the brain or spine – are the most common and deadly form of brain cancer in adults, making up about 80 percent of malignant brain cancer cases. In some of these cases, patients have a mutation in a specific gene, known as an IDH1 mutation – and patients who have this tend to survive years longer than those who do not carry the mutation.
Developed by UK researchers Li Chen, Eric Durbin, and Craig Horbinski in collaboration with software architect Isaac Hands of the UK Markey Cancer Center Cancer Research Informatics Shared Research Facility, the program uses a statistical model to accurately predict the likelihood that a patient carries the IDH1 mutation and requires screening.
Gliomas are often tested for IDH1 mutation following surgery to remove the tumor, but undergoing this type of testing often requires stringent insurance pre-approvals due to rising healthcare costs, Horbinski says.
"Currently, there are no universally accepted guidelines for when gliomas should be tested for this mutation," Horbinski said. "Obtaining insurance pre-approval for additional molecular testing is becoming more commonplace, and this program will assist healthcare providers with an evidence-based rationale for when IDH1 screening is necessary."
Additionally, Horbinski notes that the program will help conserve research dollars by helping brain cancer researchers narrow down which specific older gliomas in tumor banks – previously removed in a time before IDH1 testing was routine – should be tested as data for research projects.
Horbinski's research on the program was published in the May issue of Neuro-Oncology. The work was funded through a grant from the National Cancer Institute, the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Training Program in Translational Clinical Oncology, and the University of Kentucky College of Medicine Physician Scientist Program.
MEDIA CONTACT: Allison Perry, (859) 323-2399 or firstname.lastname@example.org
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 11, 2014) – With multiple concussions between the two of them, Dan Han and Lisa Koehl's latest research interest isn't surprising.
"I played competitive soccer through high school and continue to play recreationally," says Koehl, a doctoral candidate in the University of Kentucky's Department of Psychology, "so I have firsthand experience with the dynamics that come into play when a teen suffers a concussion."
As a former high school assistant principal in the Chicago public school system, Han was responsible for overseeing student-athletes' return to school after a concussion. Han left educational administration to pursue his doctorate in neuropsychology. Now director of the Multidisciplinary Concussion Program at UK HealthCare, Han has a reputation for top-notch clinical work and research on concussion.
"There aren't many places in Kentucky where you find a true multidisciplinary concussion program," Han says. "UK HealthCare's Multidisciplinary Concussion Program embraces an interdepartmental group effort -- from neurology, from neurosurgery, sports medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, from the trauma team -- we all work together to look at how brain injury affects the cognitive, physical and emotional state of our patients."
This group effort puts the athlete's safety first. For that reason, UK HealthCare's concussion program is the go-to for the athletics programs at Fayette County Public Schools, the University of Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University, and Kentucky State University, who all rely on the UK Multidisciplinary Concussion Program's clinical expertise in sports concussion for state-of-the-art input to help make decisions affecting an athlete's return to play.
Add to Han's clinical skills a lifelong love of full contact martial arts (Han practices kickboxing and Brazilian jujitsu), and it's easy to see how Han and Koehl are well-suited to study the symptoms of sports concussions.
Drawing from a large UK database of patients with brain injury, Koehl and Han used a subset of 37 athletes aged 12 to 17 to explore post-concussion changes in physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms over time.
According to Koehl, 22 of the 37 study participants demonstrated post-concussive emotional symptoms. Of those, 23 percent were sensitive to light while 14 percent were sensitive to noise. In comparison, of the 15 teens without emotional symptoms, 13 percent were sensitive to light and no teens were sensitive to noise.
There were no differences between the two groups in factors such as what percentage experienced loss of consciousness, amnesia, nausea and/or headaches, indicating that the groups were likely comparable in the level of severity of concussion.
"We discovered a bidirectional relationship between both emotional symptoms developing in conjunction with physical symptoms, and also emotional symptoms developing because of the physical symptoms," said Koehl.
In other words, said Koehl, "This research gives us a better understanding of the interaction between physical and emotional symptoms in concussion and will allow us to explore ways to help adolescents recover in a more timely fashion."
According to Han, teens in the study who reported anxiety were 55 percent more likely to experience attention difficulties than those without anxiety, while teens with irritability/aggression were 35 percent more likely to self-report problems with attention than teens without irritability.
"While these findings are preliminary and require a larger sample size to predict outcomes with more confidence, we are intrigued by the potential these data offer in terms of providing teens with a better treatment plan based on their unique cognitive, physical and emotional response to concussion," Han said.
"Identifying factors that affect a teen's experience after concussion may help in planning for the appropriate treatment and in making decisions about when to return to play and what accommodations are needed at school during recovery.”
To view captions for this video, push play and click on the CC icon in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. If using a mobile device, click on the "thought bubble" in the same area.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 29, 2014) – University of Kentucky Endowed Chair of Neuroscience Dr. Diane Snow was recently elected by her colleagues to serve as president-elect of the National Neurotrauma Society (NNS). With this appointment, Snow will hold the position of president in 2015-2016.
Since joining the NNS in 2003, Snow has championed women's contributions to neurotrauma research and mentorship opportunities for young members of the profession, including students, postdoctoral fellows and young professors. She served as the three-term president of Women in Neurotrauma Research (WINTR), an arm of the NNS that promotes gender equality in neurotrauma research. She also proposed the society's Ask An Expert online database for young professionals and students to make connections with practicing clinicians and researchers who are senior NNS members.
The NNS is a society committed to promoting neurotrauma research, providing a forum for clinicians and supporting members of the profession in their endeavors to discover new treatments for neurotrauma victims. Snow was inducted as president-elect during the society's annual symposium, June 29-July 2, in San Francisco.
Snow graduated with a bachelor's degree in biology and German, and a master's degree in neuroscience from the University of Akron and Northeast Ohio University College of Medicine. She completed her doctorate in neuroscience at Case Western Reserve and postdoctoral work at the University of Minnesota. In 1996, she joined the University of Kentucky as an assistant professor in anatomy and neurobiology and currently serves as an endowed chair and professor of the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center. She is also the interim director of the UK Honors Program and the director of the Office of Undergraduate Research.
"I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to advance the society by providing a platform conducive for training and sharing of knowledge, in the hopes of finding a cure for people with traumatic brain injuries," Snow said. "Of the many societies I belong to, this is the most nurturing of young scientists and clinicians and is the most interactive. They are always concerned about mentoring and providing opportunities."
Snow's primary duties as president will be fundraising and selecting a site for the 2016 annual meeting. For the first time, the NNS will consider Lexington as one of three possible host sites in 2016.
MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams; email@example.com
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 16, 2014) -- UK HealthCare's Kentucky Neuroscience Institute (KNI) has received the "Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Gold-Plus Quality Achievement Award" for maintaining specific quality measures outlined by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association for the treatment of stroke patients.
KNI also received the association’s "Target: Stroke Honor Roll" for meeting stroke quality measures that reduce the time between hospital arrival and treatment with the clot-buster tPA, the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ischemic stroke. Stroke patients who receive the drug within three hours of the onset of symptoms may recover more quickly and are less likely to suffer severe disability.
This marks the fourth year that KNI has received this designation.
"This award provides patients with tangible evidence of KNI's commitment to the highest standard of stroke care," said Dr. Michael Dobbs, UK HealthCare's associate chief medical officer and chief of neurological services. "But patients aren't the only ones who benefit. By participating in the 'Get With The Guidelines-Stroke program,' we are able to share our expertise with other member hospitals around the country, including access to the most up-to-date research, clinical tools and resources, and patient education resources."
"What this means for Kentuckians is that the best possible stroke care is available right here in Lexington."
According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the number four cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States. In Kentucky, cardiovascular disease (which includes stroke) is the leading cause of death. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds; someone dies of a stroke every four minutes; and 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 10, 2014) -- The National Association of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC) has given Level 4 designation to the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at the University of Kentucky's Kentucky Neuroscience Institute (KNI).
UK is the only Level 4 epilepsy center in the Bluegrass, and among 149 such centers in the United States. Level 4 of epilepsy care is the highest designation level offered by the NAEC.
"KNI has a commitment to providing the highest level and broadest range of treatment for its patients, and the NAEC Level 4 designation is yet another acknowledgement of our success in reaching that goal," said Dr. Michael R. Dobbs, interim chair of neurology and associate chief medical officer for UK HealthCare. "I'm delighted that the program has been recognized for its quality and range of care, and credit justly goes to the multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, rehabilitation specialists and staff that makes us worthy of this designation."
A Level 4 center provides the most complex forms of evaluation, including invasive brain monitoring and imaging and neuropsychological evaluation, and offers a broad range of medical and surgical treatment options.
"The epilepsy center has been providing the most comprehensive and specialized care to the people of Central and Eastern Kentucky for more than two decades," said Dr. Meriem Bensalem-Owen, director of KNI's Epilepsy Program. "Our epilepsy clinics, an active surgical program, and clinical trials offer a broad range of advanced forms of therapy for patients with difficult to control seizures. Those, in combination with our neuropsychological expertise and outreach efforts, make us the gold standard for epilepsy care in the bluegrass."
The NAEC is a non-profit group of more than 170 specialized epilepsy centers in the United States with the mission of setting a national agenda for quality epilepsy care.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 3, 2014) -- Turning 21 is widely considered a milestone -- a time when life's possibilities appear unlimited. At first, this was not so for Marietta Barton-Baxter. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at 21. "When I first heard that I had MS, I was scared and angry," Barton-Baxter says. "I felt as if I had been robbed of all my dreams and my future."
But once she adjusted to her new situation, she began to make the proverbial lemonade out of lemons. She has worked at the University of Kentucky for 26 years, and is currently an administrative director for the Regulatory and Clinical Services Cores at the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS). She and her husband have travelled around the country doing motivational talks for MS patients and their care partners, and she continues to be an MS patient advocate, assisting newly diagnosed MS patients and their families. "It feels good to help patients and their families through the emotional times that come post-diagnosis," she says.
And now, the people at UK who have found her story inspiring have the opportunity to acknowledge her efforts. On May 31, 2014, staff from the UK Kentucky Neuroscience Institute (KNI) and CCTS will join Barton-Baxter at Walk MS Lexington.
"Marietta amazes us with her commitment to helping others at a time when it would be easy to focus on her own health," says Amber Mccormick, the Multiple Sclerosis Coordinator at KNI. "It seems fitting that we honor her efforts this way."
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory disease that damages the insulating covers of nerves in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in physical, mental, and sometimes psychiatric problems. Between 2 and 2.5 million people around the world have been diagnosed with MS, which is twice as common in women as in men. There is no known cure for multiple sclerosis, but there are several medications that can be used to manage symptoms. Barton-Baxter has been taking injections every other day for more than 20 years with tremendous success.
But, Barton-Baxter says, her hope for herself and for others is a cure. Proceeds from Walk MS helps to fund multiple sclerosis research efforts. "I don't want to see anyone else suffer from this debilitating disease," she says.
The Walk MS event will take place on Saturday, May 31 at the RJ Corman Railroad property; 101 RJ Corman Drive in Nicholasville. There are one and three mile course options. Walk registration will begin at 9 a.m.; walk begins at 10 a.m. For more information, contact Amber Mccormick at 859-323-5661 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 24, 2014) -- Leadership from the UK HealthCare's stroke team has been invited to assist The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association in a "prep visit" to the Cleveland Clinic as their stroke center applies for Comprehensive Stroke Center (CSC) designation from The Joint Commission.
Kelley Elkins, UK HealthCare Stroke program coordinator, and Lisa Bellamy, director of education and quality for the UK HealthCare/Norton Healthcare-Stroke Care Network, will travel to Cleveland to share their experience with the CSC application process, which UK HealthCare completed late last year.
The prep visit is funded by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and is designed to help institutions applying for CSC designation understand TJC's expectations for accreditation.
"When we were working towards our CSC designation, we received the same type of support from AHA/ASA and from Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, which helped us considerably as we prepared for our site visit from TJC," said Elkins. " Interpreting the CSC standards can be challenging, and we hope our experiences can help The Cleveland Clinic achieve their goal of CSC designation."
The invitation comes just two months after UK HeathCare earned its own CSC designation, which is the highest honor TJC awards to stroke centers. UK HealthCare is one of only 63 U.S. institutions with CSC designation.
"It's quite a compliment that we've been asked to do this so soon after our own designation was announced," says Bellamy. "This type of sharing process prevents each institution from having to recreate the wheel, which is also what the Stroke Care Network is about."
The UK HealthCare/Norton HealthCare Stroke Care Network is a unique program dedicated to community education and standards-sharing with affiliate hospitals in Kentucky and West Virginia.
The Joint Commission is the nation's oldest and largest standards-setting and evaluation body in health care. An independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission evaluates and accredits more than 20,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the US.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 20, 2014) -- Dr. Meriem Bensalem-Owen, associate professor of neurology, anatomy and neurobiology and director of UK HealthCare's Epilepsy Program, has been named a fellow of the American Clinical Neurophysiology Society (ACNS), a professional association dedicated to fostering excellence in clinical neurophysiology.
In addition to serving on the society's program committee, the Committee for Continuing Medical Education, and the Website/Social Media Committee, Dr. Bensalem-Owen will co-chair the Mentoring Program of the ACNS.
"This is a great honor for Dr. Bensalem- Owen as she is the first UK faculty member to be named a fellow of this prestigious society," said Dr. Michael Dobbs, associate chief medical officer for UK HealthCare and interim chair for the Department of Neurology. "She has represented herself, the University of Kentucky, and The Kentucky Neuroscience Institute well."
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 20, 2014) -- More than 100 UK HealthCare physicians affiliated with University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital, Kentucky Children's Hospital and UK HealthCare Good Samaritan Hospital appear on the Best Doctors in America® List for 2014 -- more than any other hospital in Kentucky. Only five percent of doctors in America earn this prestigious honor, decided by impartial peer review.
The Best Doctors in America® List, assembled by Best Doctors, Inc. and audited and certified by Gallup®, results from exhaustive polling of over 45,000 physicians in the United States. Doctors in over 40 specialties and 400 subspecialties of medicine appear on this year’s List.
In a confidential review, current physician listees answer the question, “If you or a loved one needed a doctor in your specialty, to whom would you refer?” Best Doctors, Inc. evaluates the review results, and verifies all additional information to meet detailed inclusion criteria.
In bringing together the best medical minds in the world, Best Doctors works with expert physicians from its Best Doctors in America® List to help its 30 million members worldwide get the right diagnosis and right treatment.
The experts who are part of the Best Doctors in America® database provide the most advanced medical expertise and knowledge to patients with serious conditions – often saving lives in the process by finding the right diagnosis and right treatment.
The 2014 Best Doctors in America® from UK HealthCare and their specialty are:
About Best Doctors, Inc.:
Best Doctors works with the best five percent of doctors, ranked by impartial peer review, to help people get the right diagnosis and right treatment. The company’s innovative, peer-to-peer consultation service offers a convenient new way for physicians to collaborate with other physicians to ensure patients receive the best care. The global health solutions company, which has grown to over 30 million members worldwide, uses state-of-the-art technology capabilities to deliver improved health outcomes while reducing costs. Gallup® has audited and certified Best Doctors’ database of physicians, and its companion Best Doctors in America® List, as using the highest industry standards survey methodology and processes. Founded in 1989 by Harvard Medical School physicians, Best Doctors seamlessly integrates its trusted health services with Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 employers, insurers and other groups in every major region of the world. The company also designs and implements international insurance programs that help people be sure they get the right health solutions.
For further information, visit Best Doctors at http://www.bestdoctors.com, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or call (800) 223-5003.
Media Contact: Kristi Lopez, email@example.com
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 18, 2014) -- UK HealthCare has been designated a Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint Commission (TJC) and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.
UK HealthCare is one of 63 U.S. institutions and the only in Lexington to be awarded this designation, which is the highest honor The Joint Commission awards to stroke centers.
Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification recognizes those hospitals that have state-of-the-art infrastructure, staff and training to receive and treat patients with the most complex strokes, including advanced imaging capabilities, 24/7 availability of specialized treatments, and staff with the unique education and competencies to care for complex stroke patients.
According to Dr. Michael Dobbs, UK HealthCare's associate chief medical officer and chief of neurological services, many institutions set this (earning designation) as a goal, and then accumulate the training and expertise to earn the designation, but UK was the reverse. "We realized we already had all the components to earn Comprehensive Stroke Center accreditation," Dobbs said.
"There are literally hundreds of people -- not just doctors and nurses, but emergency room personnel, radiologists, technicians, rehabilitation specialists and more-- who made this designation a reality. They are the reason that UK HealthCare is a hospital devoted to stroke care, not a hospital with a stroke center," Dobbs added.
Traci Beasley has first hand experience of the care that earned UK HealthCare this designation. On Sept. 15, 2012, the 35-year-old elementary school math teacher from Anderson County was watching her 9-year-old son Clay play his first football game. Her younger son, 4-year-old Austin and her husband Patrick, an Anderson County deputy sheriff K9 officer, were on their way to join her.
"Suddenly, I felt this pop in my head, and then this awful headache," she said. "I thought it was just a migraine, but it was the worst migraine I'd ever had."
Beasley moved her chair to the shade, took some migraine medicine, and pressed her palm to her head -- her usual routine for her occasional migraines. But this time, it wasn't helping.
"My head was pounding. It came on so hard and so quick," she remembers.
One friend -- "my angel," Traci calls her now -- noticed a change in her demeanor and a slur in her speech and insisted Beasley see a doctor. That doctor, suspecting meningitis, advised her to go to a hospital for further examination.
All along, Traci insisted it was only a migraine, and begged her concerned friends and husband to take her home to sleep. "I almost had Patrick convinced, but then he noticed my speech was odd, so off we went to the Emergency Room."
She thanks God that Patrick doubted her.
At Frankfort Regional Medical Center, CAT scans revealed bleeding in Beasley's brain. Physicians there immediately made arrangements to have Traci airlifted to UK HealthCare, where a team led by Dr. Justin Fraser coordinated her treatment. Advanced diagnostic imaging revealed a subarachnoid hemorrhage caused by an aneurysm. A weak spot in a vein in Beasley's brain had ruptured. Beasley was having a stroke.
As Dr. Fraser explained the situation to Traci, "I still didn't clue in to how bad this was," Traci recalls with a rueful smile. "I told Dr. Fraser that I had to be at work on Monday to help my students prepare for testing."
"Mrs. Beasley's condition required immediate intervention, and the particulars of her case led us to use an older but less commonly employed approach to prevent the aneurysm from re-rupturing," Dr. Fraser said. In the hospital's state-of-the-art hybrid OR, the only one of its kind in the region, he used a microscope to deploy a tiny metal clip that sealed off the aneurysm -- "kind of like a clip you use to close a bag of potato chips."
What followed for Traci was a period of "watchful waiting" for any complications. In her case, she did develop a condition called cerebral vasospasm -- a narrowing of the arteries that limits blood flow to vital brain tissue. Dr. Fraser took Traci back to surgery for a less invasive procedure that delivered medicine directly to the brain via a catheter inserted through the groin, avoiding what would certainly have been another devastating stroke.
Traci and Patrick were "blown away" by the thoroughness of Traci's care. They were particularly impressed with the level of care after her treatment -- a key component of CSC designation. Traci recalls how Justin Mueller, a neuroscience nurse trained in advanced stroke patient care, prepared her for her return home. "He sent me home with so much information about speech therapy, about how I might feel, what would happen next, what to look for. I never once worried -- I knew I was getting the best."
Beasley returned to teaching on Nov. 1. "I am pretty much 100 percent," she declares with a smile, but says she hopes "I never have to be asked to say 'It's a sunny day in Lexington' ever again,'" a playful reference to the phrase Dr. Fraser uses daily to assess his patients' language skills.
Patrick disagrees with Traci's assessment that she's 100 percent. "She's better than that," he laughs. She now has "a better sense of smell than a coonhound, can read our thoughts and finish our sentences."
Dr. Fraser emphasizes that CSC designation is not just a reflection of UK HealthCare's surgical expertise. "I stand here today as a member of a team -- a team that is worthy of this designation," he says. "It's not my hands versus another surgeon's hands, or our equipment versus the other institution's equipment, that makes UK HealthCare the first choice for stroke. It's a collaboration from many, many parts of the institution that maximizes a patient's recovery."
"Weakness in an arm, or speech problems -- those are obvious neurological deficits caused by a stroke," Fraser continues. "But our goal is to achieve a more elegant solution -- can the patient balance their checkbook? Can they follow a list at the grocery store? Can they return to work and a normal life? That's why we're here."
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 10, 2014) -- Dr. Michael Dobbs has been named UK HealthCare's new associate chief medical officer.
Dobbs will initially focus his effort on the important areas of risk management, medical staff affairs and accreditation. He will also continue to serve in his faculty position as interim chair for the University of Kentucky Department of Neurology, medical directorship for the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute ambulatory care clinic, and directorship for the UK HealthCare – Norton Healthcare statewide stroke network.
Dobbs received his medical degree and postgraduate training from the UK College of Medicine. In 2013, he finished his Master of Science in Health Care Management from Harvard University’s School of Public Health. As stroke director, 2009-13, Dr. Dobbs led the stroke team and UK HealthCare to its inaugural comprehensive stroke certification and the American Heart Association Gold Plus Award for quality in years 2011, 2012, and 2013.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 24, 2014) -- One doesn't expect that the chief of neurology would have a lot of downtime. But, as Dr. Michael Dobbs explains, working as a neurologist at UK HealthCare can sometimes mean just that.
"KNI (Kentucky Neuroscience Institute) has unsurpassed expertise to treat stroke patients, and Kentucky has one of the highest rates of stroke occurrence in the nation," says Dobbs. "So I have spent more nights than I care to count consulting with physicians around the state, trying to determine whether their patients need the level of care that KNI provides. Sometimes that means I stay awake waiting for phone calls."
Dobbs admits that he hates to be idle. So, what to do with that middle-of-the-night free time?
As a child, Dobbs loved to draw, but the rigors of a medical school education, a family, and a stint at Harvard University to earn a master's degree in public health foreclosed the opportunity to pursue his hobby.
While his primary interest was drawing, painting had always intrigued him. "I thought paints would be too messy, however, so I stuck with drawing," says Dobbs.
But one day in 2010, helping his daughter Catherine shop for her school art supplies, he spied a set of oil paints on clearance. "I thought, hey, it's only $15, not much to lose there, and I bought it on a lark."
He chuckles as he shows his first attempt -- a portrait of Catherine. "I don't consider it a failure, but it wasn't the best," he laughs. "But I still kept it. I like to use it to remind myself of the progress I've made."
Dissatisfied with his first foray, Dobbs began to study art books -- but not Painting for Dummies. "You know those coffee table books about art? It turns out they have a lot of useful commentary that can inform a painter as they practice and improve their skill," he explains. "It helped make my second attempt passable."
While portraiture fascinated him, Dobbs struggled with the time investment required for such detailed work, and so he moved on to study landscapes. He explains that they take less time to finish -- as little as 60 minutes -- although he admits that he must sometimes return to a painting before he's satisfied. "One of my paintings, "Sunrise, Blue Ridge Mountains," took four or five extra rounds to finish, because I didn't like how I portrayed the light reflecting off a mountainside."
When Dobbs' work began to generate interest, a friend put him in touch with the National Brain Tumor Foundation, who placed his "Sunrise, Blue Ridge Mountains" in their annual fundraising auction. Dobbs remembers clearly his reaction to the call confirming his first ever sale.
"It was a very personal experience. I still wonder -- who bought it? Where do they live? A part of me was launched into the world, and I will likely never see it again."
The fact that UK has "officially" embraced the concept of the arts in healing through the Arts in HealthCare Program is a big deal to Dobbs, who feels the art displayed throughout the medical center enriches the experience for patients, their families, faculty and staff.
"I had a stroke patient few years ago whose family wheeled her around the hospital to look at the art," Dr. Dobbs recalls. "It clearly calmed her, and she even told her friends that she was living in a museum."
"Art in an otherwise institutional setting allows patients, family, faculty and staff to pause and take a breather from a stressful situation."
Dobbs' commitment to the Arts in HealthCare extends beyond mere admiration for the program. "I wanted to be a part of this awesome new enterprise, so I contacted Jacquie (Hamilton; Director of the UK Arts in HealthCare Program) and offered to do an exhibition of my work," he says. The proceeds from the sale of his art at the show, which is tentatively scheduled for the spring, will benefit the Arts in HealthCare program.
Dobbs believes that art informs his medical practice and vice-versa. "I like to paint loosely and without too many details," he says. "As a neurologist, I know that the viewer’s brain will fill in the details subconsciously, and I believe that allows them to contribute a more personal interpretation -- and perhaps a deeper meaning -- to the art."
This scientist/painter challenges the prevailing wisdom that science is concrete, while art is more fluid. He asserts that they are more similar than different.
"Science and art have undeniable parallels," he says. "The interpretation of both depends on the viewer’s perspective. Neither necessarily represents fundamental truth in nature. Both science and art can be used to find truths, but both must be interpreted to achieve significance."
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 7, 2014) -- By all accounts, Courtney Wilson is lucky to be celebrating another new year. The 30-year-old preschool teacher's assistant from Russell County awoke one morning "feeling awful," she says. She dropped her 2-year-old off at daycare and took her 5-year-old to school, then popped into the school nurse's office for advice.
"All I could tell her was that I felt really bad and that my balance was off," said Courtney. "The nurse drove me to the Emergency Room right away."
At Russell County Hospital, emergency room doctors examined her carefully but could find no other symptoms to explain Courtney's troubles. They consulted with Dr. Jessica Lee, director of UK HealthCare’s Stroke Center, who advised them to administer the clot-buster drug called TPA and send Courtney immediately to UK Chandler Hospital.
Lee and her team from UK's Kentucky Neuroscience Institute were similarly confused by Courtney's mysterious lack of neurological deficits. But Comprehensive Stroke Centers like the one at UK HealthCare follow specific procedures when evaluating possible stroke patients. So, as part of UK's routine screening process, Lee ordered a CT Angiogram, which provides doctors with images of the vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to the brain.
"When we pulled her scan up on the screen, it was shocking news," Lee says. "We were stunned."
Courtney had a thrombus -- a blood clot -- in what's called "The Artery of Life." This artery is the superhighway of arteries, serving areas of the brain that control heartbeat and breathing. Courtney was on the precipice of a massive stroke.
"I literally ran to her hospital room," remembers Lee, "and sure enough, she was deteriorating before my eyes. We absolutely scrambled from there."
Lee told Courtney's distraught husband Paul what was happening to Courtney, and assured him that "there would be a lot of running in and out of the room, but it was all in Courtney's best interest." She then assembled a team to save Courtney's life.
UK is fortunate to have a "dream team" trained to handle emergencies like this one. Dr. Abdulnasser Alhajeri is an interventional neuroradiologist -- one of only about 300 in the U.S. -- and Dr. Justin Fraser is an endovascular neurosurgeon. Both doctors are able to navigate tools such as tiny catheters, wires and other devices through blood vessels to diagnose and treat illnesses of the spinal cord and brain -- also known as the central nervous system. Because this requires only a tiny incision in the groin instead of the larger incision necessary for open surgery, hospital stays and recovery times are faster, complications are less likely, and patients can return home to their families more quickly.
But, in wha tLee describes as "the perfect storm," both Drs. Fraser and Alhajeri were in other operating rooms on separate cases.
Time for Plan B.
Lee assembled a second surgical team to perform the preliminary phases of the procedure. "I didn't even wait for transport to come get Courtney," says Lee. "Our Stroke Unit senior staff and I took her to the surgical suite ourselves."
Then, as if choreographed, Dr. Alhajeri stepped from one room to the next and began to work on Courtney. Using high-tech precision imaging to watch its progress, Alhajeri positioned the catheter in Courtney's brain, attached a large syringe-like device and sucked the clot out, reopening the vessel in just 15 minutes. "It was like watching the pneumatic tube at the bank drive-in," said Dr. Lee. "Whoosh! It was gone."
"Courtney is a lucky young woman for many reasons," says Alhajeri. "The doctor in the Russell County Hospital ER had the foresight to call our stroke team despite Courtney's lack of major symptoms. The TPA they gave her delayed her decline and bought us some time to perform the thrombectomy."
"She is also fortunate that UK has the resources to treat her. The next closest center that might have been able to treat her was an additional 90 minutes away. She didn't have 90 minutes to spare."
Since her illness has an 80-90 percent mortality rate, the mere fact that Courtney is alive today is a wonder. But the best part?
"The very few who survive this devastating event typically are left with substantial impairments, such as vision problems, the inability to speak or swallow, or complete paralysis," says Lee. "But Courtney's only residual deficit is some double vision on her far left gaze. We're truly thrilled with her outcome."
As is her family.
"All I could think about was how would I tell my boys that they were going to grow up without their mother," Paul says. "Courtney and I have been together 11 years, and married for 7. The boys are totally connected to her. I couldn't imagine life without her. Thank heaven I don't have to."
Since Courtney's close call, the family has reprioritized. They spend a lot of time together, focusing on the little things.
"I could just sit here and watch the boys play for hours," says Courtney. "Even when they fuss, I like it now, because I might not have had the chance to watch them grow up and do all the things boys do."
Paul is also grateful to the many friends who supported the family through this terrifying time. "The unknown is the scariest," he says. "But I had friends and even total strangers calling my cell phone to tell me they were praying for Courtney. It was comforting to me and made the scary part a little less scary."
Paul says it best of all: "Enjoy every minute, because you never know when you'll take your last breath. Faith and family is all you really need."
"Well, and some really good doctors," he finishes with a smile and a tear.
Media Contact: Laura Dawahare, 859-257-5307 or firstname.lastname@example.org
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 12, 2013) -- When Michael Marler, 58, was diagnosed with a brain tumor, his work became his therapy. A lifelong painter and carver, Marler, a UK HealthCare patient who has received care at Markey Cancer Center and the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute, used art therapy as his "go-to" method of coping as his disease progressed.
Now a hospice patient, Marler will see his life's dream of a solo exhibit come to fruition thanks to the efforts of Hospice of the Bluegrass and the Junior League of Lexington. "Up in Arms: the Art of Michael Marler" will take place 4 to 7 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 15, at the Bodley Bullock House in Gratz Park. In accordance with Marler's wishes, proceeds from any works sold that day will be donated to Hospice of the Bluegrass.
The exhibit will showcase Marler's work from 2011 to present, which chronicle his ability to adapt to the progress of his disease through the use of vivid colors and changing textures, according to Anne Deck, WUKY employee and arts chair for the Junior League.
"The title for the exhibit was chosen to reflect Michael's contagious, uplifting spirit and unwavering faith," says Deck. "It is truly a special person who can go beyond their illness and share, through art, their deeply personal moments from their Hospice journey."
In addition to works for sale, visitors can fill a guest registry with messages of support and encouragement for Michael and his family.
connected with UK HealthCare and Kentucky Neuroscience Institute. Become a fan
of KNI's Facebook to stay up-to-date on community events, programs,
treatments, research, new physicians and more.
© University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA | An Equal Opportunity University