Your Spouse is Getting a Joint Replacement - Here's What You Need to Know

Enrich - Published on December 2, 2016

patient-walkingJoint replacement surgery can be just as scary for you as it can be for your spouse.

A lot of preparation is needed before undergoing the actual surgery. Heidi Solem, Altru’s Joint Replacement Center Coordinator, works firsthand with recovering patients and spouses. Solem says that the surgery is life-changing because hip or knee pain can be very limiting. “It impacts everyday life,” Solem said. “If you can’t do something you’ve always done with your spouse it’s very frustrating.”

Here are eight tips for getting through the surgery and getting back to enjoying everyday life with your spouse:

Assign a coach who will encourage the patient throughout the entire process.
Whether the coach is you or another family member, Solem says, it’s really important to assign one person who will not only keep spirits lifted, but will be able to take on any physical demands to help the patient. “If your mom, grandma or spouse is having hip or knee surgery, it doesn’t just affect the patient, it affects their family as well,” Solem said. “For example, the patient may not be able to drive for several weeks, and may even need assistance to walk up and down stairs.”


Participate in the Joint Replacement Center pre-op class.
Once a coach is assigned, he or she should participate in Altru’s pre-op class to learn more about the surgery along with the patient. “You’ll learn about exercising, how to prepare your home, what’s going to happen at the hospital and tips for having the most successful surgery,” Solem said. “We cover everything in that class so it’s really important for the patient, spouse and/or coach to attend.”

Prepare your home accordingly.
“There’s adaptive equipment available for furniture that makes moving around easier,” Solem said. “It’s also important to stock up on the essentials like food and toiletries.” Consider moving items to lower shelves in the kitchen and purchasing bendable straws so your spouse can drink while lying down. Most of the rehab will happen in your home so creating an atmosphere that allows for easy movement is important. Remove rugs, cords and any obstructions that could cause an accident out of the main living area and consider installing handrails as a safety precaution.

Recognize that physical therapy happens the moment you wake up from surgery.
“Once surgery is complete, your spouse will work with a physical therapist or nurse, to get them up and into a chair,” Solem said. “They will take those first couple of steps just hours after the surgery.” This is also another opportunity for the coach to be present and provide the patient with encouragement because this can be a stressful part of the process.

Once home, it’s important for you to encourage your spouse to complete the in-home therapy.
Your spouse’s success will depend on how diligent they are about doing those exercises so it’s important to encourage them and remind them of their goals. “In- home physical therapy is one of the most important things to do after a replacement,” Solem said. “The exercises need to be done three times a day.”

"In trying to be an encouragement to your spouse, remind them how important post-operation therapy is to their success,” shared Dr. Darin Leetun, an orthopedic surgeon at Altru Advanced Orthopedics. “I always tell individuals that their results are 50 percent dependent on the surgery itself, and 50 percent reliant on their post-operation therapy and exercises."

patient-walking-2Don’t miss your outpatient physical therapy sessions.
It’s possible that your spouse’s physician will have them participate in outpatient therapy to aide in their recovery. Outpatient therapy is an opportunity for the physical therapist to assess the patient’s progress. “Sometimes you needs support too,” Solem said. Support can come from the physical therapist who can keep the patient accountable when you feel uncomfortable doing so. “There are three outpatient sessions per week for approximately six to eight weeks, depending on the patient’s progress,” Solem said.

Be patient.
“Many people are able to get back to where they want to be when they follow the program,” Solem said. “The thing is: Some people think they should be fixed right away, but it’s a long process.” Solem also says it takes approximately two to three months of consistency and that little gains are important and need to be celebrated.

Joint replacement surgery can be difficult on you and your spouse, but it’s important to focus on the end goal. It can be a life-changing procedure that allows you to return to the things you love, whether that means traveling, gardening, hiking or just a daily walk. To learn more about joint replacement surgery and how to improve your way of life, visit to schedule a visit at Altru Advanced Orthopedics, or call 701.732.7700.

The Truth Behind Painful Joints & Weather Changes

Enrich - Published on November 23, 2016

shovelingLong before we looked to Doppler radar and high-tech satellites to predict the weather, some people looked no further than their own arthritic knees to see what Mother Nature had in store. Even now, you might hear someone say, “My knees are aching – must mean rain is coming.”

But can sore joints really predict the weather or is it an old wives’ tale?

According to experts at Altru Advanced Orthopedics, it’s not an old wives’ tale. Changes in the weather can really cause joint pain to flare up.

“There is a physiological reason for it,” says Michael Bishop, a physician’s assistant at Altru. “Pressure sensors in the body respond to pressure changes in the environment. It’s especially true for arthritic joints. They’re more inflamed and sore so they’re more sensitive to pain.”

According to studies, the weather factors that are most likely to cause joint pain are a drop in temperature or barometric pressure. A study from Tufts University in 2007 found that every 10-degree drop in temperature corresponded with an increase in arthritis pain. In addition, relatively low barometric pressure (which can lead to precipitation) also increases pain. Researchers suspected the pain is a result of swelling in the joint capsule reacting to the outside environment.


Bishop says the joint pain might be exacerbated if the patient recently underwent joint replacement surgery.

With joint replacements, we put a foreign piece of metal in your body that your body works to keep warm,” he says. “But that metal will be colder than your own bones because the bones contain cells that work to generate that core temperature.”

Other orthopedic surgeries, that don’t involve replacing the joint, are less likely to cause significant weather-related joint pain.

Dr. Darin Leetun, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in shoulder and knee surgery and care, says broken bones can feel pain from cold weather years after the initial break. It helps to cover up and dress warm, but the pain doesn’t occur solely if the joint is exposed to cold air.

“People can complain about their hands being sore from the cold weather, but it’s more dependent on what joint has had the most wear and tear,” he says. “You could have a knee that’s completely covered, but it might feel the effect of the weather more than a hand that isn’t covered.”

Both Bishop and Dr. Leetun advise patients to dress warmly to reduce the pain from weather-related changes to the joints and try some over-the-counter help.

“Using something like Ben-Gay will stimulate blood flow in the area which might bring relief. You could also take anti-inflammatories or Tylenol for pain,” Leetun says.

Bishop says copper-lined compression sleeves can also help in keeping the sensitive area nice and warm. “I think when you’re talking about an older person with joint pain, every little bit of extra heat helps.” he says.

For more information about taking care of your joints, visit

Dislike the Holidays? 6 Tools for a Happier Holiday Season

Enrich - Published on November 16, 2016

sad-holiday-dogHalloween is over. All the costumes and decorations have been moved off shelves to make room for, you guessed it, Christmas. The Hallmark Channel is already featuring Christmas movies, and a local radio station has a countdown on their website to when they will go “all Christmas, all the time” (November 18, by the way).

To some of us, this is a welcome thought. To others, it is annoying. And to many, it is depressing. So, to help you understand your holiday emotions, I have a question… Is your mask on?

What Mask?
I’ll give you a hint - I don’t mean the Superhero mask from Halloween. Rather, I’m referring to the mask we contort our face into which makes us look like we have “holiday cheer.”

I recently had a person in my office and the conversation arose about the upcoming holiday season. It took her a minute to say it, but she finally blurted out, “I hate the holidays.” And guess what, she’s not alone!  Many dislike the holidays. For some, it’s because of grief and for others, it is hurt from the past. Yet others hate all the hype and the busyness. Still others don’t like the credit card bills which come in January. So, if you’re not feeling holly-jolly about the holidays, here are some suggestions to help you through.


1. You’re Not Alone
First, here’s what I want to say to you if you feel this way: “It’s ok, you are normal. You can take off your mask.”  There are things we can do to make the holidays better, maybe even a little enjoyable. Don’t feel guilty for your genuine feelings. You are not the only one.

2. Give Thanks
Instead of complaining about what you don’t like, try to be thankful for what, and especially who, you appreciate. Then, take it one step further and express that gratitude. Maybe your gifts, if you decide to give any, are expressions of thanks. Take the spirit of Thanksgiving and carry your gratitude throughout the whole season. Find a way to say “thank you” every day.

3. Meaning Matters
I have a collection of stuffed Christmas bears. My children tell me those bears will be loaded up and taken to Goodwill when I’m gone. Most of them are just cute bears, but a few of them were given to my family back in the 80s by a good church friend who recently died. That’s where the collection started. So those Santa Bears have special meaning to me. What has meaning to you? What gives the holidays, or your life in general, meaning?  Focus on those things.


4. Ask Questions
Questions are one of our best tools. (I used several above.) We can ask questions of our family:  “How can we make this simpler?”  We can ask questions of ourselves:  “Why does it bother me when all the decorations are up?”  We can ask questions of God:  “What is my place in this situation?”  Questions are a tool to help us gain clarity in our mind and in our relationships. Don’t assume – ask instead.

5. Practice Patience
Be patient with those who are like the local radio station:  All Christmas, All the Time. And, be patient with yourself. Whether you love or hate the holidays or are somewhere in between – it’s okay. You are normal and you can find some peace and some joy in the midst of whatever the season throws your way.

6. Check Expectations
Many people are disappointed because the holidays (or any day) didn’t provide what was expected. Our lives won’t likely end like a Hallmark Channel movie just because Christmas comes around. What do you expect? What do others expect of you (or do you think they expect)? Make all expectations realistic. Beware of hidden expectations.

Ellingson, Mark 4CMark Ellingson, Altru’s Pastoral Care Manager, has lived in the area for around thirty-five years as a local pastor and chaplain. He is married to Betty, a speech pathologist supervising in schools such as Hillsboro and Central Valley. They have five children and a couple of grandsons. Mark and Betty enjoy living in Grand Forks. Mark plays tennis, fills in at local churches for vacationing pastors and enjoys writing on his personal blog, Thoughts of a Hospice Chaplain.



See also: Walking through the Holidays after the Death of a Loved One

Living Pain-Free, Not Fun-Free | Ron's Altru Advanced Orthopedics Story

Altru Moments - Published on November 11, 2016

rakingIn 1999 Ron Thramer had rotator cuff surgery on his right arm. Over the years, the work that had been done had slowly deteriorated, and he was living life in pain.

“I kept putting it off,” explained Ron. “I lived with the pain instead of going in to find a solution. For years, I couldn’t sleep through the night because it was so bad.”

Finally, he saw an advertisement for Altru Advanced Orthopedics showing people living “pain-free, not fun free” and considered it a sign. Living in Roseau, Minnesota, Ron went to Altru Clinic and met with Dr. Jeremy Gardner, an orthopedic surgeon at Altru Advanced Orthopedics who visits regularly.

“Dr. Gardner told me – your shoulder is in really bad shape. Luckily, I know a guy who can fix it.”

Dr. Gardner referred Ron to his colleague, Dr. Darin Leetun, who specializes in shoulder surgery and completes more complex cases. Dr. Leetun reviewed Ron’s case and walked him through the options.

“He asked me what I expected out of the surgery. I said if he could make the constant pain go away and help build back some strength, that I’d be happy,” remembers Ron. “ He told me he could do that, so we moved ahead. I am so happy I did.”

Ron had surgery on his rotator cuff in January of 2016. Dr. Leetun repaired damage and had to include donor tissue to replace the tendons in Ron’s shoulder that were too badly damaged. He referred Ron back to Altru Clinic in Roseau after the surgery so that he could receive physical therapy in his hometown.

Now, nine months after the surgery, Ron is proud to share that, like the advertisement promised, he’s living ‘pain-free, not fun-free.’ “As long as I don’t overdo an activity, there’s no pain,” shared Ron. He’s been able to complete tasks at work with the highway department and at his electric business, Thramer Electric, without having to think about how to avoid pain. And, he’s been able to pick up some of the hobbies he’d left behind when he was living in pain.


“I hadn’t golfed in two years,” he shared. “Dr. Leetun told me to go for it, and though I haven’t had the time to play a round, I swung the club a few times this summer – and there was no pain. Hunting is also much more enjoyable. I can climb into deer stands, I can better support my gun, and most of all I can enjoy it without thinking about the pain.”

Ron’s advice for people who are avoiding addressing their joint pain – don’t. He even referred a co-worker who was much like him to see Dr. Leetun about his shoulder, which had been bothering for years. He’s now on the same path as Ron toward a life without shoulder pain.

“My advice to people is to take care of it now. There’s no good time to have surgery, but the longer you put it off, the worse it gets. And, the more things in life you miss.”

Feel Better without Antibiotics: Why No Medicine is Sometimes the Best Medicine

Enrich - Published on November 11, 2016

antibioticsWhen you feel sick with a cough, sore throat or fever, you want to feel better fast. We almost always expect the doctor to give us an antibiotic. But maybe an antibiotic is not what you need.

Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections.

During Get Smart about Antibiotics Week (November 14-20, 2016), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) raise awareness of the threat of antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic prescribing and use.

Why is this important?
Overuse of antibiotics has resulted in some bacteria that are difficult to treat with the antibiotics that we have (multidrug-resistant organisms or MDRO). There are not many new antibiotics on the way. It is scary to think of the day when no antibiotic will work for common infections.

Antibiotics also increase the risk of infection by the bacteria Clostridium difficile, commonly called C-diff. C-diff can cause severe diarrhea that is potentially life threatening. Recovering from C-diff infections is sometimes difficult and many people get C-diff multiple times.

Get Smart about Antibiotics

While antibiotics cannot cure infections caused by viruses, there are still a number of things you or your child can do to treat some symptoms and feel better while a viral illness runs its course. Over-the-counter medicines may also help relieve some symptoms. In general, follow this good old-fashioned advice (tips adopted from the CDC):

  • Get plenty of rest.

  • Drink plenty of fluids.

  • Use a clean humidifier or cool mist vapor.

  • Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain or fever.

  • Use a decongestant or saline nasal spray to help relieve nasal symptoms.

  • For a sore throat, gargle with salt water and drink warm beverages.

  • Avoid smoking, secondhand smoke, and other pollutants.

Antibiotic stewardship, or responsibly administering medications only when evidence supports their use, is an important part of medical practice. Everyone wants to feel better quickly when they are sick. We have to be sure that any medications prescribed don’t do more harm than good.

walz-joel-bwJoel Walz, MD, is a family medicine physician treating chronic health problems and acute injuries and illness. Dr. Walz is the Public Health Officer for Grand Forks and serves on the Grand Forks Public Health Board engaging in community health issues. He is inspired by improving the quality of life in the patients he sees. In his free time he enjoys bicycling, hiking, snowboarding, salt water reef aquariums and traveling. He is an active member at United Lutheran Church and a confirmation guide.


Lori Sondrol, MDLori Sondrol, is a pediatrician at Altru Health System. Board certified in pediatrics, she sees patients from one day old to 21 years of age. In addition to seeing children for well child care/sports physicals/ acute care visits, she enjoys managing chronic illness in children such as diabetes and asthma. Outside of the hospital, she is often with her husband and two daughters. They like to travel and spend time outdoors. They are often watching sporting events or participating in them.

8 Ways to Stay on a Healthy Track During the Holiday Season

Enrich - Published on November 7, 2016

Holiday eatingThe holidays are upon us and that means great food, fun and spending quality time with loved ones. This can be a busy time for many of us as we do our best to put others before ourselves. However, with all the fun and festivities, we can easily go off track in regards to our health and fitness goals. The following are some tips to help you maintain a healthy and fit routine during the upcoming holiday season.

1. It’s okay. Nobody’s perfect.
With all the hustle and bustle, you are bound to miss a workout here and there and that is okay. We don’t expect perfection with other areas of our life, so exercise is no different. Just make sure you get the next one!

2. Commit to two or three of your favorite holiday treats.
List your favorites and you are more likely to stick to those. This should help prevent the “accidental” consumption of other treats that you weren’t planning on eating.

3. Plan ahead and create time.
“I was so busy with the holidays and spending time with my family, I couldn’t find time to workout,” is one of the more common “reasons” given for not keeping up with exercise during the holidays. Instead of dwelling on the obstacles faced during the holiday season and what you can’t do, focus on what you can do and find solutions to help keep you on track. Just as you would plan your time spent with your family, plan to incorporate your exercise as well. Even exercising as little as ten minutes sporadically throughout the day has been shown to be better than no exercise at all.  Keep in mind that a little bit of something is better than a big nothing.

Me time scheduled on calendar. Everyone needs to relax sometime

4. Be realistic.
When planning ways to stay on a healthy track this holiday season, keep in mind that having a realistic view about your situation and abilities is key to overcoming any pressure that you may be putting on yourself during this busy time of year. Be honest and know your limitations. For example, if you know that you won’t be able to stick to not eating any sweet treats and plan on eating just celery in place of that, you will most likely feel pressure or be pressured into eating that piece of pie or that brownie at one time or another during the holidays. Make sure that your plan will work in reality, not just in theory.

5. Make exercise a family affair.
Spending quality time with family during the holiday season is often spent with too much food and too much sitting around. Exercise tends to take a backseat to yearly family traditions. Instead of taking a complete break during the holidays, reinvent some of those traditions and make exercise more of a family affair. Maybe go for a family walk around the neighborhood and look at the holiday decorations, suggest a game of backyard football or even a holiday-themed dance party. They say variety is the spice of life, right? Spice it up!

Family sledding

6. It’s okay to say “No, thank you.”
“Just have one.” “It’s the holidays!” “Alright, just one more...” We’ve all been there. The holidays bring out the best in hospitality with people wanting us to feel welcome and comfortable. However, that usually means we are offered a lot food, which can affect the holiday plan that we set forth. We shouldn’t deprive ourselves of those sweet, delicious bites, but at the same time, we don’t want to feel guilty or ungrateful when we politely decline our host’s offer for more. Therefore, there is a tendency to accept their gracious offering(s). Accepting their hospitality in other ways can help alleviate the pressure. For example, if they offer you that piece of pie, politely decline and ask, “Who made that delicious-looking salad over there?”

7. On-the-go this holiday season? No sweat.
Traveling and looking for options to get your workouts in? Fitness apps on your smartphone/tablet, DVDs and even online can yield a variety of effective workouts that you can perform indoors or outdoors with little to no equipment necessary.  Looking to workout in a gym setting while away from home? Many fitness centers offer discounted rates and sometimes free use of the facility for out-of-town travelers, so make sure you call ahead. Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, the world is your gym.

8. Maintain, no gain.
Let’s be honest—the holidays can be a challenging time for staying on a healthful track. A hardcore gym session would be great if you had the time, but even a walk around the neighborhood with your kids can also be considered a win. Politely declining that second piece of pie and staving off those would-be calories are a success within itself. You might not stick to your holiday plan 100%. However, celebrating those small victories can help you stay inspired and get you back on track to your normal routine as soon as possible!

The team at Altru’s Weight Management Program is dedicated to the successful weight loss and weight management of our patients. We use proven, science-based methods to guide you on your journey to your healthiest tomorrow. Learn more >> 

Shawn ReichShawn Reich is a medical fitness specialist at Altru Health System and also a certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor. He is always finding new ways to improve his and his clients’ fitness. Many know him as the “Battle Ropes guy,” as he is constantly seen working with this effective exercise tool. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with family and friends, photographing nature, playing video games and watching his reality shows.



See also:

Caring for Joints, Cultivating Relationships | Darin Leetun, MD

Faces of Altru - Published on November 4, 2016

Dr. Darin Leetunleetun-golfing of Altru Advanced Orthopedics helps patients get back to the life they enjoy through thorough care and advanced procedural offerings. He’s also a doctor for the USA hockey, ski and snowboarding teams. On top of that, he provides regular free presentations to the community on common concerns with joint pain, and even has time to mix in a round of golf or two. We sat down with Dr. Leetun to discover more about his approach to care, and the things he enjoys doing when he’s not focused on joints.

Q: What is your area of specialty?
A: I focus on shoulder and knee care. I do everything from basic care and non-surgical treatment to replacements. I enjoy having that focus as I can confidently manage everything for patients related to their shoulder or knee concerns.

Q: What’s your approach to care?
A: I approach caring for my patients as a partnership. I like to work with them to achieve the goal that they’re looking for. Whether it’s to return to an activity, sport or just everyday life—my number one priority is to help an individual accomplish what they set out to do when they sought care. My goal isn’t always to do a surgery, it’s to do whatever I can to get them back to activity with the least amount of risk and difficulty for them. I look at every option and try to emphasize partnering with them to make a decision, not making the decision for them.

Dr. and Mrs. LeetunQ: What motivates you to do what you do?
A: My motivation is simply the fact that I believe God has given me a gift that I can use to help others. Although I may not always be perfect, I can be helpful in what I do and take something that I’ve been blessed with and be a blessing to others.

Q: When did you know that you wanted to go into medicine?
A: My interest in medicine started when I was very young. I broke my arm when I was six, and to set it, the doctor used the fluoroscopy (or live x-ray), so I could see my bones being moved. That experience really got me interested in dealing with bones.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your work?
A: I enjoy the challenge. Every day is different. Every day there’s something new that I need to adapt to and try to overcome. I enjoy learning new things and adding to my practice. Medicine is advancing all the time, and we’re adding new and better ways to care for our patients—like our recent addition of the Mako Robotic-Arm. That’s allowed me to offer more precision in a partial knee replacement, which is a great value for patients. 

Q: What do you like to do outside of work?
A: I enjoy golfing and working in my yard. I also enjoy spending time catching up with family and friends—I feel that those relationships are very important. I just got done goose hunting with my cousins. I’ve never hunted for geese in my life, but I did it so we could spend time together. Unfortunately we got skunked—we didn’t get any geese. But, we had a good day. We enjoyed hanging out and experiencing the benefits of what North Dakota brings.


Q: Where would you most like to travel to?
A: For me, it would be going to Israel, to Jerusalem. Seeing all the places and sites where Jesus walked and talked, helping the Bible to come alive—to gain a better understanding of what was being taught. Hopefully it would be an opportunity where I could to grow in my faith and apply it to my life.

Q: Where did you go to school?
A: I graduated from Bismarck Century High School, then I went to the University of North Dakota. I actually spent my junior year at the University of Alabama doing a student exchange program (primarily because I was a huge Alabama Crimson Tide fan). Then, I ended up going back to Alabama for my first two years of medical school before finishing my medical degree at the University of Virginia. From there, I went to Fort Worth, Texas for five years, and then off to Australia for my fellowship training before starting an orthopedic practice. I’ve been in Grand Forks three years this August.

Q: What do you like about being in Grand Forks?
A: Grand Forks reminds me of how Bismarck was when I grew up. Not too big, not too small. I like the opportunities here with the Greenway, the outdoor activities, etc. But, I’ve got to be honest—my favorite thing is UND Hockey. I’m a big fan; I’ve always been. Having the opportunity to go to the games on a regular basis and enjoy the quality of hockey we have here, week in and week out, that’s a huge plus.

Why Youth Athletes Should Avoid Sport-Specific Training Programs

Enrich - Published on November 1, 2016

Ladder workoutMany elite athletes note their success to playing multiple sports growing up. Often times, we chalk this up to that athlete having natural athletic ability that can be applied to multiple sports. Though that is likely a factor, as a strength and conditioning coach and athlete myself, I know another reason – these athletes avoided sport-specific training as youths. Not only can playing multiple sports improve long-term athletic ability, but it will also decrease risk for overuse injuries.

Sport-Specific Training
In order to understand sport-specific training, it’s important to understand a few key principles, and how some work together, and others against each other in the progression of a sport-specific training program.

Female tennis player

The principle of specificity or Specific Adaption to Imposed Demands (SAID) implies that to excel at a specific exercise or skill, you must perform that specific movement. So, if you wanted to be a better tennis player, for example, you’d play tennis. In general, this makes a lot of sense, but wait, there’s more.

Now, let’s add the progressive overload principle to our example. According to this principle, you should do more of the same thing to create adaptation. So, our tennis player assumes – ‘I’m getting better from playing tennis, so I need to do it even more.’ Again, we have more tennis.

Conversely, there is the principle of diminishing returns. An individual who has been doing a specific training longer will not see the same gains as an individual who has been training for less time. Because of this principle, our tennis player will potentially plateau, or even see a decrease in performance. They’ll likely either think - “I need to rest and take a break from tennis” or, “I just need to keep playing more tennis. I got better before when I increased my tennis hours, I’ll just keep playing even more.”

If the tennis player picks the later, they can put themselves on a path of continued diminished performance in their sport, and even more, potential over-use injuries. Because of this, coaches and parents need to understand that at a physically immature age an athlete’s musculoskeletal system can become compromised with chronic overuse injuries. These compromises can come from playing one sport all year round or playing one sport and having a training program that mimics the specific movements of their sport. Youth athletes are now having surgery that professional athletes would see later in their career (i.e. Tommy John surgery, FAI pincer/cam lesion) because of improper, sport-specific training.

Kids Soccer Training

A Better Way
So, how can an athlete who’s only focused on one sport excel? At Sports Advantage powered by EXOS, we focus on variation and recovery to help our athletes find continued success.

In order to avoid accommodation, an athlete must have variety in their training. This should include natural progressions and regressions, specifically - training load, volume, exercises and sport. So, our tennis player should not only find variation in the gym to avoid accommodation, they should also consider adding a sport with different movement, such as basketball, to the mix.

Another very important aspect of a proper training program is recovery. In many scenarios, this is not considered as student athletes sign up for the next season or training program. Recovery is pivotal in preventing over-use injuries, especially in younger athletes.

How we practice and play our sports should be viewed in the same light as a sound strength and conditioning program, which offers variety, recovery and an opportunity to excel for the long-haul without injury. Though it might sound contradictory, athletes should avoid strength and conditioning programs that mimic everything they do in their specific sport. Programs designed for “tennis players” should be made to compliment what they do on the court, not repeat it.

JocelyneJocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson is a performance specialist with Altru Advanced Orthopedics. Outside of work and hockey, she enjoys downtime with her husband, dog and family.

Heart Attack Symptoms in Men vs. Women

Enrich - Published on November 1, 2016

Man Having Chest PainsHeart attack symptoms may not look as dramatic in women as they do in men, but they are just as threatening. A man experiencing a heart attack may suddenly grab his chest, double over in pain and collapse. Women do not typically experience these intense symptoms. Instead, the attack may be mistaken for a bad case of indigestion or they may feel a heaviness or pressure on the chest. Women may also notice other subtle symptoms, including:

  • Arm and shoulder pain

  • Discomfort in the jaw

  • Lightheadedness

  • Nausea

  • Shortness of breath

  • Sweating

“About 50 percent of the time, women experiencing heart attacks say they feel squeezing sensations in the chest,” says Ismail Bekdash, MD, cardiologist at Altru Health System. “They often ignore the discomfort and wait to seek medical attention, which is dangerous—100 false alarms are better than ignoring a potentially fatal condition.”

woman who has chest pain

Risk factors
The chance of having a heart attack can increase due to certain risk factors, such as other medical conditions, genetics and lifestyle choices. Risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

  • Diabetes

  • Physical inactivity

  • Overweight

  • Smoking


People of certain races are also more at risk, including:

  • African-Americans

  • American Indians

  • Asian-Americans

  • Mexican-Americans

Additionally, while most heart attacks occur after age 65, men are more likely to have a heart attack before age 65. Women should pay close attention to subtle warning signs of a heart attack if they take birth control pills or are postmenopausal and not taking estrogen replacement therapy.

Cutting-Edge Cardiac Technology
Altru’s Heart & Vascular team is continually advancing care to ensure those at risk for heart disease can take action to prevent heart attacks. In April 2016, Altru installed a Toshiba Aquilion™ ONE ViSION 640-slice computed tomography (CT) scanner, a dynamic volume system capable of almost instantaneously scanning the heart of patients with resting heart rates up to 75 beats per minute. “The scanner provides images with a very low dose of radiation,” says Joe Gemmill, manager of CT, MRI and Nuclear Medicine. “This technology helps our cardiology team capture clear, intricate images of the heart and coronary arteries. The people in the Red River Valley now have access to a world-class CT scanner close to home.”

What You Can Do
Talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors for heart attack and follow preventive measures to keep your heart healthy. Prevention methods include:

  • Exercise regularly. Thirty minutes a day is the recommended minimum.

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet complete with whole-grains, lean protein, fruits and veggies.

  • Don’t smoke. If you need help quitting, look to Altru’s tobacco cessation program for guidance.

  • Manage your stress. Practice mindfulness or stress-reducing activities such as yoga or meditation. Even five minutes of meditation each day can greatly reduce stress and improve your health. (Learn how Dr. Aboufakher incorporates meditation into his daily life.)

Keep your heart in check. Learn how we can help at

From a Bad Cold to Life Support, and Back to Normal | Denae’s Altru Moment

Altru Moments - Published on October 27, 2016

denae-and-terry-photoIn spring of 2016, Denae Bayne of Newfolden, Minnesota, thought she had a bad cold. After a diagnosis of common bronchitis, she was sent home with medicine.

Two days later, on Easter Sunday, Denae was feeling lethargic and gloomy. In the evening, her husband, Terry, knew this wasn’t normal, and he brought her to the closest emergency room in Thief River Falls.

Several tests and chest x-rays revealed Denae did not have bronchitis. It was double pneumonia, covering about one third of her lungs, as well as severe dehydration. She was kept overnight for observation, and given antibiotics and fluids.

By Monday morning, another x-ray showed the pneumonia now covered half of her lungs—and her oxygen levels were dropping. By Tuesday morning, Denae had to be sedated and intubated in order to attempt getting her on a respirator. Another turn for the worse—her body rejected the respirator, and she had to be manually bagged for oxygen.

At 10 a.m., Denae was emergency airlifted to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, where she was immediately put into a medically induced coma and placed on life support.

The pneumonia had aggressively enveloped both of her lungs. As a result, she developed ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome). Following more testing in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit), doctors determined Denae was infected with the H1N1 influenza virus at some point during the week prior.

Four days before, it was a “bad cold.”

11 Long Days
Denae remained on life support for 11 days. Things took a turn for the better, and she was moved out of the ICU on April 11, 2016. Denae was able to leave the hospital on April 13, with the support of portable oxygen, physical therapy to assist with walking and completing basic hand coordination functions, and her husband, Terry, by her side.


Today, six months later, Denae’s lungs are just returning to normal. 

Dr. Shivu Kaushik [in Altru’s ICU] consistently kept us updated, and it was clear to see that he genuinely cared for the well-being of my wife,” beams Terry. “He thought she would be on life support for a minimum of three weeks; however, he did say, ‘Some people surprise me.’”

Denae was lucky to be one of those people.

Making an Impression
Dr. Kaushik wasn’t the only person who made an impression on the Baynes. Terry explains, “I can’t forget Dr. Mudireddy, who saw her in ER and the first day in ICU. Also Dr. Dalmi, who was with her on the floor after ICU until discharge. It was a great experience with respiratory, occupational and physical therapies, as well as all the nurses and cleaning staff.”

“In fact, the people at Altru impressed us so much that when we got home, I called our health insurance company and switched our primary care to Altru. It left that big of an impact on our lives!”

The Baynes are back to normal life today, enjoying spending time with family and friends and being outdoors in the fresh air. Denae is back at work, advocating for juveniles in the court system, trying to take every day a little slower and cherishing all the moments along the way.

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