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Advancing Care - 2023 Issue 9

smilow beauty

Smilow program is all about beauty – inside and out

For Ann Marie Clang of Oakdale, the fact she would lose her hair was almost as emotionally devastating as finding out she had cancer. 

“There were a few really difficult steps in the process of wrapping my head around it,” said Clang, who was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma in December 2022. “The first was ‘I have cancer.’ The second was ‘I’m going to lose my breasts.’ Then it was “I’m going to lose my hair.’” 

Read about Smilow Cancer Hospital's Beyond Beauty Program  

Signs and Symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormone condition that impacts up to 15 percent of females of reproductive age. However, many patients aren’t diagnosed until they are in their 30s – which means they may struggle with symptoms for years after puberty. People with PCOS may also be at higher risk for certain health conditions, like diabetes and high blood pressure. Recognizing the signs and risk factors associated with PCOS can help you get the right treatment sooner.

Learn about the symptoms of PCOS

What can a hand therapist do for you? 

You sit at a desk in the office or at school for hours at a time. Or you often spend your weekends working in the garden or tending to the lawn. Your wrist hurts and your hand feels weak. Is it time to see a hand therapist? 

Many people think that physical therapy is only needed after surgery or a sports injury. But for patients with conditions affecting the shoulder, elbow or hand, time spent with a certified hand therapist (CHT) can be life changing, according to Carrie Swigart, MD, a hand surgeon at Yale New Haven Hospital and associate professor of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation at Yale School of Medicine. 

“Hand therapy with a certified hand therapist certainly does play an important role both after surgery and often in preparation for surgery,” she said. “But some hand and upper extremity problems can be either caused or exacerbated by poor body posture or muscle imbalances. For these patients, an evaluation and targeted exercise program designed by a CHT can improve their body mechanics and upper extremity muscle balance. In this way many patients can avoid surgery as well as improve their overall quality of life.” 

What is a certified hand therapist?

CHTs are occupational or physical therapists who have earned additional specialty certification, as they must pass an exam and log 4,000 hours of direct patient care. Whether you are recovering from surgery or trying to prevent the need for a surgery, a CHT can often provide the therapy needed to improve a condition and the education to help correct the cause of the condition. 

Time spent with a CHT may help you avoid common issues down the line. For example, a hairdresser who constantly uses a brush and scissors is someone who might develop arthritis in their thumb. CHTs can help patients make adjustments in their biomechanics to avoid possible future injury or surgery later in life. 

Common conditions treated by CHTs include:

  • Shoulder pain
  • Tennis elbow
  • Arthritis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Tendonitis
  • Trigger finger, which is when a finger sticks in a bent position
  • Tenosynovitis, which is inflammation of the protective sheath that surrounds the tendons going to the hand
  • Hand and wrist injuries  
  • Joint replacements 

According to Virginia Ells, a CHT at Yale New Haven Hospital, it’s important to find out what is causing the problem with your hand or wrist as well as how it is impacting your life. That information allows the CHT to tailor treatment designed to help you achieve your goals. 

“Hand therapists provide treatment, patient education and interventions to assist patients with their return to function,” Ells said. “We can teach you how to manage your symptoms and design a home program that allows you to make gains from one session to the next.” 

CHTs understand that our hands and arms are extensions of our individual personalities. Losing function of a finger, hand, elbow or shoulder interferes with activities of daily living but also limit the expression of self. Dr. Swigart urges people to take the first step and talk to their doctor because the earlier the intervention, the better the outcome.

Understanding Grandparenting 101 

The world is constantly changing – and the way we parent our children also evolves. When you are a new grandparent, it’s essential to brush up on the basics while also staying up to date on the latest trends and methods in childcare, health and safety. 

Yale New Haven Hospital’s Understanding Grandparenting Class is designed to help grandparents learn about current hospital birth practices, changes in bathing/diapering, safe sleep, car seats, childproofing, supporting breastfeeding and other skills. You will also learn about monthly milestones for the first four months, ideas for interacting with the baby, setting boundaries and the importance of healthy communication with the new parents. 

There are two options for the course:  

  • eClass: This online class can be completed on your own time and is not held on scheduled dates. After registering, you will receive a link to the online course that is accessible for up to nine months. Cost is $50. 
  • In-person class: Held on site at One Long Wharf in New Haven, 2nd floor, conference room 287-288. Various dates available. Cost is $50. 

For more information or to register for either course option, call 888-700-6543 or visit Classes and Events

ER, urgent care or video visit? How to decide where to go 

Need care right away? We can help with everything from allergies and sprains to emergency symptoms for heart attack and stroke. While emergency departments provide care for life-threatening injuries or illnesses, walk-in/urgent care centers offer convenient, professional medical attention for non-life-threatening conditions including the flu and common cold to broken bones, sprains, cuts, allergic reactions, and minor burns, and hundreds of other conditions. Avoid long wait times at the emergency department and get the care you need at one of our walk-in or urgent care centers located throughout Connecticut and New York.

For minor medical concerns, you can receive care online using Video Care OnDemand.

Not sure where to go? Explore your care options.

Find a Provider at YNHH

Are you looking for a physician? Call 888-700-6543 or visit our Find a Doctor feature for information on physician specialties, office hours and locations as well as insurance plans accepted. Many of our physician practices offer telehealth video visits for your convenience. 

Billing Questions? 

Yale New Haven Health offers financial counseling to patients and families. Spanish-speaking counselors are also available. To make an appointment with a financial counselor, call 855-547-4584.