Vital Record » Nursing https://news.tamhsc.edu Your source for health news from the Texas A&M Health Science Center Mon, 28 Jul 2014 22:06:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 College of Nursing fills primary care gap with launch of new Family Nurse Practitioner program https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=college-of-nursing-fills-primary-care-gap-with-launch-of-new-family-nurse-practitioner-program-2 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=college-of-nursing-fills-primary-care-gap-with-launch-of-new-family-nurse-practitioner-program-2#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 15:41:54 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20835 The Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing has announced plans for a Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner (M.S.N.-FNP) graduate program]]>
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The M.S.N.-FNP was recently approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and is expected to launch in January 2015, pending final approval from the Texas Board of Nursing.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing has announced plans for a Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner (M.S.N.-FNP) graduate program. This program was recently approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and is expected to launch in January 2015, pending final approval from the Texas Board of Nursing.

The United States health care system is currently facing a shortage of primary care physicians. This shortage, coupled with a growing aging population and the entrance of newly insured individuals (through federal legislation), will increase the demand for primary care services. The physician shortage is of particular importance in Texas where the state falls below the national average with just 165 physicians for every 100,000 individuals.

“In an effort to alleviate this shortage, our family nurse practitioner program will produce nurses who can provide primary, acute and specialty health care,” said Texas A&M College of Nursing Dean Sharon A. Wilkerson, Ph.D., RN, CNE, ANEF. “Our graduates will be competent and dedicated practitioners responsible for managing the care of families with a holistic approach that emphasizes both care and cure through cutting-edge science.”

Like registered nurses, nurse practitioners perform thorough assessments, but also have the ability to diagnose patients, prescribe treatments and medications, and take charge of the patient’s overall care.

In recognition of the value of nurse practitioners, there has been an increase in job opportunities for nurses with M.S.N.-FNP degrees. Currently, about 190,000 nurse practitioners practice in the United States. Looking ahead, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated there will be approximately 37,100 new job openings in the field by 2022.

“Patients are more likely to see a nurse practitioner than they were a decade ago,” said Wilkerson. “While they are part of the health care team, their independence is evolving and they are gaining more autonomy. Many insurance providers now allow nurse practitioners to be listed as the primary care provider.”

Another way nurse practitioners fill the gap in primary care is by working in locations lacking adequate access to health care. Nurse practitioners have a greater tendency to practice in traditionally underserved areas compared to other primary care providers. In fact, in some rural areas a nurse practitioner may be the only provider available.

Wilkerson explained that the mission of the College of Nursing is about much more than just producing more family nurse practitioners, it’s about bettering the care available to patients. “We are not simply preparing nurses for certification, but creating nurses with the critical thinking skills to deliver the best possible patient care,” she said.

The M.S.N.-FNP courses will be delivered online, with full and part-time options, allowing students to balance career, family and other responsibilities while advancing their education. The students will have an opportunity to provide care with qualified preceptors in or near their home locations.

Those interested in applying must have a baccalaureate degree in nursing from an institution of higher education accredited by the appropriate regional accrediting agency and either National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) orthe Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). A current, unencumbered Registered Nurse license to practice in the State of Texas or licensed in the state where practicums will occur is also required.

Prospective students can visit nursing.tamhsc.edu for more information and to connect with an advisor.

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Dean Wilkerson assumes presidency of the Texas Organization of Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing Education https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=dean-wilkerson-assumes-presidency-of-the-texas-organization-of-baccalaureate-and-graduate-nursing-education https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=dean-wilkerson-assumes-presidency-of-the-texas-organization-of-baccalaureate-and-graduate-nursing-education#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 14:59:16 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20574 Sharon Wilkerson, Ph.D., RN, CNE, dean of the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing, assumed the presidency of the Texas Organization of Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing Education. ]]>

2014_Wilkerson_Sharon_FORWEBSharon Wilkerson, Ph.D., RN, CNE, ANEF, dean of the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing, today assumed the presidency of the Texas Organization of Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing Education (TOBGNE).

TOBGNE was created to enhance the preparation of entry-level and advanced practice nurses in Texas through the promotion of collaborative and facilitative relationships among Texas institutions involved with nursing education at institutions of higher learning. TOBGNE seeks to promote the health of Texas through excellence in nursing education, provide access to educational opportunities, and expand the integrity and harmony of spirit of the profession.

The vision of the organization is for Texas nursing education institutions to actively work together in the interest of vitalizing, sustaining and advancing nursing education across the state, and attract the best and brightest to the nursing profession from the diverse Texas population.

Wilkerson has served as president elect of TOBGNE since 2012 and has dedicated a 30-year career to undergraduate and graduate professional nursing education.

Wilkerson was appointed founding dean of the Texas A&M College of Nursing in 2008. During her time with the college, she successfully developed the college’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) and Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) programs and is currently working to provide additional graduate education programs in the near future.

Prior to her time with the college, Wilkerson served various roles with Texas A&M Corpus Christi College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Purdue University School of Nursing, Indiana University and St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac, Michigan.

“This is such a prestigious honor because TOBGNE is really the voice for baccalaureate and graduate nursing education in the state of Texas,” said Cathy Hansen, M.S.N, RN, CNE, assistant dean of undergraduate studies and interim associate dean of academic affairs with the Texas A&M College of Nursing. “It reflects her career-long devotion to the profession and her vision for the future of our college throughout the state.”

In addition to her new role with TOBGNE, Wilkerson also serves on committees and boards at the state and national level. She is president of the Texas League for Nursing, serves on the inaugural board for development of the affiliate constituency organization of the National League for Nursing, and currently serves as chair of the baccalaureate conference program planning committee for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

For more information about the Texas Organization of Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing Education, visit http://tobgne.org/ .

 

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Research shows relationships are key to quality of life with multiple sclerosis https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=research-shows-relationships-are-key-to-quality-of-life-with-multiple-sclerosis https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=research-shows-relationships-are-key-to-quality-of-life-with-multiple-sclerosis#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 15:28:34 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20477 Nursing faculty member found that if a health care provider-patient relationship was based on mutual respect and collaborative decision-making, it was more likely to ensure effective health outcomes and an improved quality of life. ]]>
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For patients with multiple sclerosis, a holistic approach to treatment is key.

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease that affects much more than the body. It takes more than treating the disease to help a patient, it requires treating the entire person.

Chronic diseases, especially those as severe as multiple sclerosis, can greatly impact the mental status of patients and their overall quality of life. It is this idea of “quality of life” that Brian Holland, assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) College of Nursing, seeks to understand and improve through nursing research.

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that can negatively affect the physical, emotional, and social aspects of patients’ lives. Medical treatment regimens often focus on physical symptom management and overlook other factors that can negatively influence quality of life. Holland’s recent doctoral dissertation examined the relationships between health care providers and patients.

The most important finding in Holland’s study was the link between perceived health care provider engagement and patient quality of life. Holland found that if a health care provider-patient relationship was based on mutual respect and collaborative decision-making, it was more likely to ensure effective health outcomes and an improved quality of life.

“What we see is that the more empowered patients feel, the more they will adhere to treatment regimens and ultimately experience an improved quality of life,” Holland said. “This is extremely important for patients of chronic diseases because the patient is so instrumental in their decision-making and long-term treatment management.”

Holland explains that multiple sclerosis can often result in feelings of loss of control. His research findings suggest that the more engaging a patient’s relationship with their health care providers, and the more personalized that relationship is, the more empowered patients feel and thus, improve overall health outcomes.

So what makes a good relationship? Holland found that since multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects everyone differently, care must be personalized to provide the greatest benefit. Many individuals experience depression, anxiety and social isolation related to the disease, and stress in employment and social settings due to physical limitations and symptoms like incontinence, which can make the disease seem more unbearable.

“The best treatment includes addressing all of these issues through care that is tailored to the patient’s specific needs,” Holland said. “A holistic approach involves personalizing the patient’s care. Listening and incorporating them into the decision making process is very important, as well as maximizing health services.”

Holland says that nurses are particularly well positioned to improve these relationships by promoting effective engagement. Not only can nurses serve as liaisons between the physician and the patient, but can facilitate the transfer of information to the patient.

“It’s a revolving circle of behavior,” said Holland. “A better provider-patient relationship leads to better treatment adherence, which leads to better quality of life, which fosters improved health outcomes – and it all goes back to a better provider-patient relationship.”

In the next phase of his research, Holland will expand his focus on improving health outcomes by enhancing the relationship between patients and their health care providers. He plans to identify and target factors that could serve as the basis of educational programs for healthcare providers caring for those with multiple sclerosis. He said that further research is also needed to gain a greater understanding of what specific factors increase the transfer of quality information from the health care provider to the patient.

It is in this capacity that nursing research is particularly instrumental. Fostering comprehensive, caring relationships is one of the main goals of nursing, and basing that care on research can broaden the reach of academic nursing across populations.

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Texas A&M Health Science Center graduates largest nursing class to-date https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-health-science-center-graduates-largest-nursing-class-to-date https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-health-science-center-graduates-largest-nursing-class-to-date#comments Fri, 16 May 2014 18:41:59 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20251 The Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing graduated its largest class to-date on Friday, May 16. The college held commencement ceremonies for 123 students with Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees at Rudder Auditorium on the Texas A&M University campus]]>

The Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing graduated its largest class to-date on Friday, May 16. The college held commencement ceremonies for 123 students with Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees at Rudder Auditorium on the Texas A&M University campus.

This is the largest class of graduates for the College of Nursing and representative of the college’s growing commitment to providing more baccalaureate nurses for the state of Texas.Nursing grads

The ceremony began with a welcome by Dean Sharon Wilkerson, Ph.D., RN, CNE, followed by stage party introductions by Brett P. Giroir, M.D., executive vice president and CEO of the Texas A&M Health Science Center.

Commencement speaker Cyndy Dunlap, RN, MPA, NEA-BC, FACHE, the system Chief Nurse Executive at Baylor Scott &White Memorial Hospital in Temple, spoke about the growing importance of the nursing profession and graduates’ pursuit of success in their career paths.

“You are the first official nursing class to rightfully say that you are a Texas A&M Aggie,” Dunlap said to graduates. “ Live your role with a passion.”

The College of Nursing also presented several awards during the ceremony.
Graduate Helen Cooley, of Midland, TX, was honored with the Advancing the Profession Award, which recognizes a graduating RN-to-B.S.N. student who has shown exceptional growth, creativity and scholarship in the program.

The Community Service Champion Award was presented to graduate Elise Bockoven, of Plano, TX. The awardrecognizes a graduate who has shown outstanding service to the college, the nursing profession and the community.

Graduate Lauren Haire, of Salado, TX, was honored with the Emerging Professional Award. The award is presented to a graduate who demonstrates exemplary professionalism, both in the classroom and in the clinical setting, as well as through participation in student organizations and in service on College committees.

The Dean’s Excellence Award was awarded to graduate Margaret Salzer, of Alvin, TX and to graduate Kenzie Stucki, of Canadian, TX. The award is presented to a\one or two graduates who have reflected the philosophy of the college by a commitment to knowledge, discovery, and service and must rank in the top 25 percent of the class.

The W.F. (Boy) and Johnnie Hasskarl Humanism in Nursing Award was presented to graduate Rosalie Wright, of Cameron, TX. The award is named in honor of Dr. W.F. (Boy) Hasskarl and his wife, Johnnie, who lived in and served the Brenham community for over 90 years. With this award, the Board of Directors of the Hospice Brazos Valley Living Endowment joins the Hasskarl family in honoring Dr. and Mrs. Hasskarl for their service to others. This award honors not only the Hasskarls, but the College of Nursing graduate that exemplifies who exemplifies compassionate, humanistic care and exceptional competency in the art of nursing. In addition to recognition during commencement, the student will receive a plaque and monetary gift.

CON nursing gradsThe Gathright Award was awarded to graduate Kimberly Veazey, of College Station, TX. The award is given by the Association of Former Students in conjunction with the Texas A&M Student Government Association to the senior with the highest grade point ratio from each college. The award was established in 1973 and is named in honor of the university’s first president

A reception in the Rudder Exhibit Hall followed.

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Is it a food sensitivity or a life-threatening allergy? https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=is-it-a-food-sensitivity-or-a-life-threatening-allergy https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=is-it-a-food-sensitivity-or-a-life-threatening-allergy#comments Tue, 06 May 2014 21:37:37 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20169 Many people suffer from a food intolerance or sensitivity—meaning they may start to feel bad after eating a certain food, but they don’t have a life threatening reaction. How can you determine if you have a true allergy or a minor sensitivity? ]]>
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How can you determine if you have a true allergy or a minor sensitivity?

Did you know that less than four percent of adults have a true food allergy? But many people do suffer from a food intolerance or sensitivity—meaning they may start to feel bad after eating a certain food, but they don’t have a life threatening reaction. So how can you determine if you have a true allergy or a minor sensitivity?

“A food sensitivity will cause a localized response such as a headache, nausea or other gastrointestinal symptoms,” says Vicky Keys, M.S.N., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing. “It’s uncomfortable, but not life threatening.”

On the other hand, a food allergy activates the body’s immune system at the cellular level and reactions can be life threatening. The body reacts to the food as if it were a foreign invader. Symptoms may occur within one hour of ingesting the offending food. Major culprits include milk, eggs, various nuts, soybeans, wheat, fish, and various shellfish.

A doctor can conduct a food allergy test to determine if you have a true allergy and what you are reacting to. If you are considering an allergy test or suspect that you may have a food intolerance or sensitivity, Keys suggests keeping a detailed food diary to help determine the culprit.

“Because there are multiple allergy tests, keeping a food diary can help you and your physician pinpoint what is causing your discomfort faster,” says Keys.”

Since any number of ingredients could trigger a reaction, keep a record of what you eat, the type of symptoms you experience, and the amount of time between ingestion and your symptoms.

If you have a sensitivity or intolerance, avoidance is the key to managing symptoms. If it is determined that you have a true food allergy, Keys recommends the following strategies to take charge of your safety:

1. Read food labels.

Read the label to make sure there are no traces of your allergen present in the product. This strategy is important even if you have a food sensitivity or intolerance so you can avoid the trigger ingredients.

“Many companies will post if there are other ingredients that the product could have come into contact with,” notes Keys. “There are several ingredients that a single item could have encountered. Even a small trace of your allergen could cause a potential reaction.”

2. Wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace.

Because you can’t control the environment around you, exposure to harmful allergens could happen at any time. Wearing a medical alert bracelet or necklace could help others if you have a life-threatening allergic reaction.

3. Carry an epi-pen or other necessary allergy medicines.

If your health care provider determines you do have a food allergy, they may prescribe you with an epi-pen. If so, they will demonstrate how to use it, and the package insert comes with instructions. You should always carry your allergy medicines and the epi-pen, in case you have a severe allergic reaction.

Make sure someone in your home, work or school knows how to use the epi-pen if you are unable to activate it yourself.

“It’s extremely important to immediately seek medical help if you experience a food reaction, even if you’ve used your epi-pen,” warns Keys. “Anaphylactic shock is life-threatening and can happen very quickly.”

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May is Asthma Awareness Month: A review of the basics https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=may-is-asthma-awareness-month-a-review-of-the-basics https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=may-is-asthma-awareness-month-a-review-of-the-basics#comments Mon, 05 May 2014 17:07:49 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20125 May is “National Asthma Awareness Month,” and with more than 23 million Americans diagnosed with asthma, and 7 million children affected, it’s imperative for parents to take control of their children’s asthma management]]>

May is “National Asthma Awareness Month,” and with more than 23 million Americans diagnosed with asthma, and 7 million children affected, it’s imperative for parents to take control of their children’s asthma management.

While asthma is serious, and can be life-threatening, it can be controlled through medical treatment and the identification of environmental triggers.

Health care provider goes over asthma plan with boy and mother.

Keeping a close relationship with your health care provider will allow you to manage your child’s asthma symptoms and triggers, not react to them.

“Parents not only need to be their children’s health advocate, but also their environmental advocate,” said Rebecca Burns, M.S.N., RN, assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing. Burns is an expert in pediatric studies and practice, and is experienced in clinical respiratory management. “You might be surprised by the amount of triggers in your own home.”

All parents of children with asthma should have an Asthma Action Plan (AAP). An AAP (also called a management plan) is a written plan that you develop with your doctor to help control your asthma. The AAP shows your child’s daily treatment, such as what kind of medicines to take and when to take them. The plan describes how to control asthma long term and how to handle worsening asthma, or attacks. Most importantly, it explains when to call the doctor or go to the emergency room.

In addition to eliminating triggers, Burns explains that it is necessary to follow medication instructions exactly as they are prescribed. Children should be supervised and educated to ensure they use them properly. If your child has asthma, all of the people who care for him or her should know about the child’s asthma action plan. These caregivers include babysitters and workers at daycare centers, schools and camps. These caretakers can help your child follow his or her action plan.

There are two main types of treatment for asthma: a rescue inhaler or maintenance therapy that includes two inhaled medications, a steroid and a beta-agonist. Though significant lifestyle changes are unnecessary, when proper medication and environmental management are combined, asthma patients can live healthy, active lifestyles.

“If your child is diagnosed with asthma, work closely with the physician to learn what triggers the attacks,” said Burns. “You can’t just give your child medication and expect to see results; you must manage the treatment and the triggers.”

Triggers can be categorized by allergens and irritants. Allergens can be animal dander, dust mites, cockroaches, indoor mold, pollen and outdoor molds. Keeping furry and feathered friends out of your home, as well as keeping your home clean and well maintained (fix leaky faucets and use a cleaner with bleach for moldy surfaces) can help reduce indoor allergens.

“If you live in an area with particularly high pollen and outdoor mold, like here in the Brazos Valley, try to keep your windows closed from late morning to midafternoon if possible because this is when pollen and mold spore counts are highest,” explained Burns. “Also, discuss with your child’s doctor whether you should take or increase anti-inflammatory medications before the start of your area’s allergy season.”

Burns also suggests avoiding trigger irritants like tobacco smoke and strong odors. If you smoke, discuss with your own doctor how to help you quit and ask other smokers in your family to quit smoking also. Do not allow smoking in your home or car, or other places your child might spend time. Avoid using fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, or strongly perfumed odors and sprays within your house.

“Essentially, you want to manage your child’s symptoms, not react to them,” said Burns. “Keeping a close relationship with your health care provider and being vigilant about your child’s environment can help keep triggers at bay and your child active and healthy.”

For more information about Asthma Action Plan’s, please visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.

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College of Nursing recognized for community outreach in the Brazos Valley https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=college-of-nursing-recognized-for-community-outreach-in-the-brazos-valley https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=college-of-nursing-recognized-for-community-outreach-in-the-brazos-valley#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 19:49:10 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20018 College of Nursing recognized for partnership with Texas A&M Evidence-Based Program Resource Center and community assistance of the elderly]]>
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College of Nursing recognized for partnership with Texas A&M Evidence-Based Program Resource Center and community assistance of the elderly

The Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) College of Nursing and Assistant Professor Wanda Seaback, RN, MS, were recently recognized for their work and partnership with the Texas A&M Evidence-Based Programs Partners.

Seaback and the College of Nursing were specifically recognized for the implementation of community programs to promote healthy aging and prevent falls in the Brazos Valley. This semester, nursing students led community education courses in Navasota, Caldwell and Bryan communities.

The Texas A&M Program on Healthy Aging has partnered with the Texas A&M School of Public Health and Brazos Valley Council on Government/Area Agency on Aging for many years to implement various evidence-based programs through the nine county Brazos Valley region.

“Our focus is to facilitate change in the community,” said Seaback. “The goal of my efforts and the college’s efforts is to promote healthy aging.”

Seaback explained that nursing students are actively involved in Brazos Valley communities teaching older adult participants about healthy lifestyles, increasing physical activity, maintaining and increasing strength, balance, and fall prevention.

Two specific evidence-based programs have been implemented by Seaback and the College of Nursing. The first is A Matter of Balance, an 8-session course that focuses on adults, age 60 and older, who may have a fear of falling and/or would like to reduce their risk of falls. Participants are actively involved in group discussions and sharing of ideas and experiences in addition to participating in stretching, purposeful movement and low impact exercises. The exercise portion can be adjusted according to the needs and ability of the participant. Participants experience improved muscle strength, flexibility, and sense of balance.  At completion of the program, consistent attendance is recognized with incentives, such as a certificate of completion and/or t-shirt.

The second program, Texercise meets twice each week for 10 weeks. Texercise highlights physical activity, healthy lifestyle changes and improved nutrition. Nursing students help participants realize activity and health benefits without the need for fancy gear, health clubs or payments – just a fun, practical guide to looking and feeling great. Nutrition and fitness logs, pedometers, exercise bands, handbooks, DVD, safety tips, fact sheets and t-shirts are provided free of charge to help encourage participant success.

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Recognize Parkinson’s symptoms earlier for longer, happier lives https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=april-is-parkinsons-awareness-month-how-to-recognize-symptoms-earlier https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=april-is-parkinsons-awareness-month-how-to-recognize-symptoms-earlier#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 15:25:51 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=19964 While Parkinson's disease is incurable, early detection of symptoms may lead to a better quality of life. The Texas A&M Health Science Center’s College of Nursing discusses some of these lesser-known early warning signs]]>
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While Parkinson’s disease is incurable, early detection of symptoms may lead to a better quality of life.

Tremors, twitching, stooping and a masked face are commonly known signs of advanced Parkinson’s disease. But what about earlier warning signs? Is there a way to detect the disease before these drastic symptoms develop?

While the disease is incurable, early detection of symptoms may lead to a better quality of life. The Texas A&M Health Science Center’s College of Nursing discusses some of these lesser-known early warning signs.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that develops when the brain stops making the chemical dopamine. Dopamine aids in body movement and also helps keep moods stabilized and elevated. While the disease is incurable, medications can help replace dopamine and provide some assistance with managing Parkinson’s symptoms, but the disease gradually worsens over time.

Researchers have become increasingly focused on the identification of non-motor symptoms for the earliest detection. It is believed that the earliest signs of Parkinson’s occur in a part of the nervous system which affects non-motor symptoms.

“Early detection gives patients with Parkinson’s disease the greatest chance at a longer, healthier life,” said Colleen Neal, M.S., RN, assistant professor at the TAMHSC College of Nursing. Neal teaches community health and researches aging health and long-term care. Her experience includes assessing and assisting patients with Parkinson’s disease through her career with the Aging Services Department for the State of Oklahoma. She notes that the risk for Parkinson’s increases with age due to nerve damage from genetic or environmental factors.

While no single one of these symptoms indicates that a person has Parkinson’s, if several of these symptoms are present an appointment should be made to speak to a physician. Here are some potential, early warning signs of Parkinson’s disease.

1. Loss of smell. Difficulty smelling strongly scented foods like dill pickles or licorice may be an indication of Parkinson’s development.

2. Difficulty sleeping. Thrashing, sudden movements and falling out of bed while deeply asleep could be indicators.

3. Constipation. Difficulty moving bowels without straining (when no other cause such as diet or medicine) could be a reason to speak with a physician.

4. Small handwriting. A sudden shrinking in the size of handwriting can be an indicator. While handwriting can gradually change with age, this particular symptom of Parkinson’s occurs quite suddenly.

5. Choking, speaking softly and difficulty swallowing. All three are due to loss of control of mouth and throat muscles.

6. “Freezing, falling backwards, and asymmetrical arm movement. Feet can feel “stuck to the floor” and result in a backwards fall. This often occurs after standing-up, when turning, and without warning. Other indicators can be stiffness that does not go away as a person moves and arms that do not swing symmetrically when walking.

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Crossing Borders: Researcher finds behavioral links between Mexican immigrants and higher birth weights https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=crossing-borders-researcher-finds-behavioral-links-between-mexican-immigrants-and-higher-birth-weights https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=crossing-borders-researcher-finds-behavioral-links-between-mexican-immigrants-and-higher-birth-weights#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 15:04:22 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=19921 Many Mexican immigrants are affected by the risk factors that result in low birth weight in the United States. But, Robin Page, Ph.D., RN, CNM, found that first-generation Mexican immigrant mothers continue to boast higher birth weights despite these risk factors and attributes these different results with differences in prenatal health behaviors borne from cultural standards and values. ]]>

hispanic-paradox-500pxImmigrants come to America for many reasons, but a decrease in their children’s birth weight certainly isn’t one of them. As a Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) College of Nursing (CON) researcher points out, the adoption of American culture can have detrimental effects for Mexican immigrant mothers.

Low birth weight and premature birth are identified as major public health concerns for American mothers. The United States has seen infant mortality rates decrease over the past several decades – but the rate of low birth weight infants has remained steady.

Several factors have been identified as putting American women at risk of delivering low-birth-weight and premature babies: low socio-economic status, lack of access to professional health care, low education levels and high stress are all considered risk factors for low birth weight.

Many Mexican immigrants are often affected by these risk factors, but unlike American mothers (regardless of race) first-generation Mexican immigrant mothers boast higher birth weights.

Robin Page, Ph.D., RN, CNM, director of education at the TAMHSC College of Nursing, found this “Hispanic Paradox” in her research on Mexican immigrant mothers. Page has a Master of Science in Nurse-Midwifery and a doctoral portfolio in Mexican-American studies.

She found that differences in birth weight were the result of differences in prenatal health behaviors, not race, and that these differences were the result of cultural standards and values. 

Within the Mexican immigrant population, an increased desirability of pregnancy, better nutritional support, lack of substance abuse and an increase in the role of religion within the mother’s life were identified as positive cultural factors.

Additionally, Page found that as these immigrants grew accustomed to living in America and adopted American cultural norms, their birth weights decreased.

“These differences in prenatal health behaviors encompass the structural social support experienced by immigrants through a concept called ‘familialism,’” said Page. “Essentially, these immigrant populations place family and community relationships at the center of identity. This seems to diminish with acculturation.”

But what does this teach us about prenatal care in a global, humanistic perspective? What can this mean for the public health concerns of America? The answer offers a unique reflection for all mothers and medical professionals and suggests that one of the most important components of prenatal health care is the caring relationships formed for and around the mother. 

“This has implications beyond these results,” said Page. “It helps us, as nurses, understand cultural influences and assist patients of all cultural backgrounds. Clearly factors other than ethnicity and socioeconomic status contribute to health disparities.”

She hopes that these differences can be translated through holistic health care to reduce low birth weight within the United States.

“By enhancing our understanding of the concept of acculturation, nurses can provide holistic care that is culturally competent,” said Page. “We need a focus on care that acknowledges more than just the body, but encompasses an intricate web of factors.”

As these immigrant mothers became more acculturated, their risk of delivering a low-birth-weight infant increased. This is also true across generations. Page explained that one study found the risk for low birth weight was approximately 4 times higher for second than first generation Mexican American women.

“It is possible that Mexican culture fosters positive feelings toward childbearing that influence health-related behaviors, thus affecting pregnancy outcomes,” said Page. “First-generation immigrants were found to consume more protein, calcium, folic acid, and vitamins A and C than did second generation Mexican-Americans and non-Hispanic women despite often low socioeconomic statuses.”

Page also notes that religion, specifically, was identified as a positive psychological factor among Mexican immigrants. By fostering positive attitudes toward pregnancy and subsequent prenatal care, religion was found to provide a source of social support – a factor Page identified as increasingly important for healthy prenatal behavior. 

Prenatal care providers should assess pregnant clients’ resources for social support and help facilitate the mobilization of that support. Page suggests that the most important component of prenatal care may not be the provider, but the caring relationships that are formed for the mother.  

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