Rosh Hashanah 2011: Health Promotion

By | October 6, 2011

Our goal is to make vitamin D fun, not just healthy!

The World Health Organization recently released some data that echoes what those of us in the trenches have long known. At least in developed countries, the majority of doctor visits are for degenerative diseases rather than acquired ones. As America ages this trend will only grow more acute. These degenerative conditions require a different approach than acquired diseases such as infections or injuries. In the acquired disease model you start with a completely well individual who suffers an acute change in his health and is expected to return to his former state of good health.

The standard disease model of medical care fails on a number of counts. Aging is not a disease and as such cannot be cured. Furthermore, most of its concomitants are irreversible once fully established. Degenerative processes can be slowed in some cases. Adaptive responses can be introduced or augmented in others. But preserving health and function is the key.

In the standard medical model even the idea of preventative medicine has its problems. A good example is antihypertensive and cholesterol lowering therapies to prevent coronary artery disease. These therapies require the daily administration of medication, often at considerable expense, to a large number of patients to prevent a disease that only some will get. Furthermore, diet and exercise may prove to be as effective or more effective than pharmacologic therapy and produce collateral benefits such as improved appearance and an increased sense of wellbeing. In my opinion pills should be reserved for those individuals who have modified their lifestyles, but still not achieved the results that were desired, but more often than not patients will reach for the pills because it is easier than changing their behavior.

The medical establishment, however, has been slow to adapt. My desired approach has always been health promotion, rather than prevention or restorative therapy. With this approach all of the participants enjoy the primary effects of fitness and fun and health becomes almost a secondary benefit.

In the past year we have instituted a number of health promotion measures with significant success. Traction and inversion therapy have helped dozens of patients avoid surgery and extend the period between injections. Our yoga therapy classes have helped relieve chronic pain, increase flexibility for scores of patients and just as importantly they have proved enjoyable at the same time. In the coming year we hope to start even more innovative programs. Pain support groups, weight loss programs and solar approaches to osteoporosis prevention are some of the leading ideas that we are considering. Regardless of which one we start with we are committed to a year of change and improvement.

L’Shanah Tovah! Happy New Year!

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