Is Laser Hair Reduction Right For You? Get the Scoop on This Popular Treatment

Enrich - Published on September 21, 2016

Smooth legsIf you’re sick of shaving, waxing, tweezing and the inevitable bumps, irritation and redness that follow, then laser hair reduction could be the solution you’re looking for to deal with unwanted hair. Bonus – this popular treatment can permanently reduce hair in treated areas by 80-100 percent for most people. Here’s all you need to know about laser hair reduction and its benefits.

How it Works
Laser hair reduction is one of the most commonly done cosmetic procedures in the United States. It works by sending highly concentrated light and heat into hairs follicles. Pigment in the follicles absorbs the light and destroys the hair. Laser hair reduction can be done on any area of the body. Popular areas of treatment include; underarms, bikini, back, legs, neck, upper lip and chin.

Hair grows in several phases. The laser can only treat the actively growing hair follicles, so several sessions are needed to kill hair in all phases of growth. Typically, eight to twelve treatments every six to ten weeks are needed for best results, depending on the area of treatment and your individual reaction to the treatment.

Refreshing and cleansingWho is a Candidate?
Many people are great candidates for this treatment, as pre-requirements are minimal.  However, laser can only treat dark hair. It will not treat grey, white, red or other lighter shades of hair. It is beneficial to schedule a free consultation at Truyu prior to your first treatment. A laser technician can evaluate your skin, hair and other factors to help determine if you are a candidate.

Preparation Tips
Laser hair reduction is most successful on skin that’s had minimal sun exposure, as darker pigment can attract the laser to the skin rather than to the hair follicle. So, it’s best to avoid sun in the area you’d like treated for at least four weeks prior to treatment. After treatment, be sure to wear a strong sunscreen as skin in the area can be sensitive.

Unlike other hair removal techniques, it is not required that hair be grown out prior to treatment. Your laser technician will likely advise you to shave the area prior to your treatment.  During the treatment, you’ll be asked to wear protective goggles to safeguard your eyes.

Laser hair removal

What to Expect
Laser hair reduction is safe and comfortable. At Truyu, we have nationally certified laser technicians and one of the best lasers on the market to treat unwanted hair. Laser hair reduction is quick and most people experience only slight redness and a sunburn sensation in the treatment area afterwards.

Fall is a great time to start laser hair reduction. During the months of September and October 2016, Truyu is offering 50 percent off a single laser hair service, so call us today to schedule your free consultation. You’ve got nothing to lose, except unwanted hair.

Celebrate 50 Like These Spunky Ladies | Get a Colonoscopy

Enrich - Published on September 1, 2016

What's the best gift you can give yourself at 50?

A colonoscopy, of course!

This life-saving screening is recommended for anyone over 50, and those with risk factors or family history earlier. See why these ladies feel that a colonoscopy is something to celebrate, not dread.

(In all seriousness, you can learn more about the golytely prep process here.)

To learn more about colonoscopy and give yourself the gift of prevention for your 50th birthday, visit

If the cost of a colonoscopy is standing in your way, Altru Health System may have funding available through its No-Cost Colonoscopy program.

A Dietitian's Tips for Long-Lasting Fullness

Enrich - Published on September 1, 2016

Black bean soupYou might have heard fiber is good for lowering cholesterol. Although your heart will thank you for including it, you're not likely to notice a big difference from one day to the next if you start upping the roughage.

Here's an immediate benefit that you can latch onto: foods with fiber, specifically soluble fiber, are high-quality slow-burning fuel which can keep you full and satisfied for hours.   What's more: in honor of national cholesterol month, we're focused on soluble fiber because not only is it found in all kinds of delicious and filling foods, but it is particularly good at helping you maintain a healthy cholesterol level. That gummy goodness gloms on to cholesterol in the digestive tract so you can get rid of cholesterol instead of absorbing it back into your bloodstream. Seven to thirteen grams of soluble fiber per day is enough to provide that benefit, so let’s add up some favorite meals and snacks and see how we can get there.

Breakfast of champions
The marketers of instant oatmeal packets have convinced everyone that you can’t just microwave regular old-fashioned oats, but that's simply not true. Making your own “instant” oatmeal will up the fiber (if you use real fruit) and eliminate the empty and non-satiating calories from added sugar. If you like the apples and cinnamon flavor of instant oatmeal, give this a try:

  • Dice 1 medium apple and put it in a microwavable bowl. Microwave for 1 minute.

  • Add ½ cup of old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats and 1 cup water. Microwave for 2 more minutes.

  • Stir in 1 Tbsp ground flax seed, cinnamon, ginger, and if you want, a dash of salt and brown sugar.

  • You can easily double or triple the recipe and refrigerate for the next morning. Just microwave for about 90 seconds and enjoy it all over again.


That recipe will start your day off with four grams of filling and cholesterol-munching soluble fiber. Halfway to goal, and it’s not even lunchtime!  If you try this recipe, you’ll never want to settle for instant packets again.

Lunch for days
On chilly weekends, you can save time and money making a big batch of soup and enjoying leftovers all week long. This Winter Black Bean Soup has about four grams of soluble fiber per serving, thanks mostly to the black beans (1 cup of black beans = 4.8 g). If you don’t want to garnish it with yogurt for transport, you can sprinkle low-fat mozzarella on top and it will melt as you heat it up for lunch. Ryvita crackers are great for dipping, and they have a whopping 7 grams of total fiber per 4 crackers, and only 140 calories. There isn’t any information on their soluble fiber content, but we’ll assume it’s at least 1 gram.  With that, we’ve already achieved 9 grams, but we’re not stopping there!

If you're looking for another great-tasting and hearty soup this fall, try this Sweet Potato Pumpkin Soup.

Crunchy-salty-sweet, and healthy
A go-to snack for the afternoon for portability, taste and health is a blend of roasted soy nuts and raisins. You can buy both in bulk at Amazing Grains in downtown Grand Forks. You can sometimes add a few chocolate chips for a touch of indulgence with this homemade trail mix.

Amazing Grains
It’s easy to get into a rut with starches.  If you’re like most Americans, the dinner starch is potatoes, pasta, bread or maybe rice, with few exceptions. Branch out with a chewy and fiber-filled grain you’ve probably only had in soup. Barley has three grams of fiber per ½ cup. It’s one of the chewiest grains, and more chewing means your meal takes longer to eat, which means you’ll be satisfied with less! Try this simple recipe:

  • Rinse the grains and add to your pot.

  • Add 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of grain, and add a dash of salt and whichever spice blend you’re in the mood for (Mrs. Dash garlic and herb goes well).

  • Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer at about a 4 out of 10 for roughly 25 minutes, or until you can tip the pot and no water comes above the level of the grains.

Adding a quick side of steamed frozen broccoli will almost double the fiber content of this meal. Add lean meat and you're all set.

At the end of this tasty day you'll have plenty of soluble fiber, well exceeding the goal and thereby crushing cholesterol. These ideas are full of both fiber and flavor, but if this meal plan is far from what you’re used to, add high-fiber foods into your diet gradually and drink plenty of water to prevent your digestive system from getting blocked up.

For more healthy recipes approved by Altru's dietitians, visit

Reduce Stress Daily With These 5 Simple Mindfulness Techniques

Enrich - Published on September 1, 2016

MindfulStress comes in many forms and on many levels. On a daily basis, small stressors and worries can keep us from living a happy and relaxed life. Not only that, stress is also a contributor to heart disease and other illnesses. If you find yourself pondering the past or worried about the future, bring yourself into the present and reduce stress through the practice of mindfulness.

Essentially, mindfulness means to be present in the moment. It is important to understand this simple fact. All too often the true essence of mindfulness can be over-complicated, and emphasis is placed on the act of meditation alone. Mindfulness is not something you only do while seated in meditation, but something that can carry throughout everyday life.

It is often in the more repetitive, day-to-day activities that we find ourselves switching into auto-pilot. These moments are perfect opportunities to be more mindful. It is important not to worry about trying to clear your mind of any thoughts or feelings. Instead, try to visualize yourself taking a back seat, witnessing the thoughts and emotions as they come and go. If you find yourself getting distracted, simply bring your attention back to the physical senses and focus your attention on the activity at hand.

Here are five easy suggestions to help you bring mindfulness into your everyday life.

In the shower
Become aware of how good the warm water feels as it washes over your skin. Be mindful of the smell of the shower gel, and the sensation of your hands passing over your skin. Process your thoughts; be mindful of how much water you’re using, and mindful of the noise of the water coming to a halt.

While brushing your teeth
Become mindful of the taste and texture of the toothpaste; notice the sensation of your feet on the bathroom floor; be mindful of the way that your arm moves to direct the brush across your teeth; focus on each and every tooth.

During your commute
During a sometimes stressful time, such as a busy commute, it’s important to note the feelings you have and address them as part of a mindful practice. For example, think of the people around you and consider what they might be feeling. Be mindful of the environment as a whole and your resistance to it; notice how you might try to escape the present moment and daydream. Be mindful of the journey and how it feels – is the ride bumpy or is it comfortable and smooth?

While you wait in line
This can often be an unpleasant or rushed time. Take an opportunity to experience it and understand your body’s reactions to the situation. Notice how your mood changes when you first catch a glimpse of the queue for the bank; mindful of how you stand, your breath and where any tensions are as you scan through your body. Be mindful of the tendency to distract yourself from the present moment; and mindful of how you interact with the people around you.

While you eat
We live in a society where multitasking is the norm. It’s not uncommon to pay little attention to what we are eating and how we are eating it. Instead, we gobble a breakfast bar in the car on the way to work, have lunch at our desks while we’re checking emails and snack mindlessly at night while watching television. Before you know it, your food is gone and you have no recollection of really tasting or enjoying it. Try to find some time in your schedule to enjoy a meal without distraction. Eat slowly, and notice the way the food smells; notice the texture of it; notice what the first bite feels like. Be aware of thoughts or feelings that arise as you’re eating. Take note of whether your experience changes if you’re eating with someone versus eating alone. Eating mindfully is a great way to practice incorporating mindfulness into your daily life.


And finally, remember to just breathe. For most of us, being present takes some effort—particularly when we’re experiencing stress. Oftentimes, we find ourselves ruminating about a past event, or worried about the future. Paying attention to your breathing is a great way to bring your focus back to the present moment.

Begin by sitting comfortably, closing your eyes and gently bringing your awareness to your breath. Feel the rise and fall of your chest and belly as you inhale and exhale. Thoughts will come and go—this is natural. When your mind starts to wander, gently bring your focus back to the sensations of the breath. Setting aside as little as five minutes each day for this exercise is a great way to practice mindfulness and manage stress.

Hear Dr. Aboufakher, cardiologist, discuss why mindfulness is good for your heart health.

Join us for a stress-free living retreat on September 13. We’ll highlight the many ways Altru experts can help you live a more relaxed and purposeful life. Join the Facebook event and invite your friends, too >> 

Emily SpicerEmily Spicer is a health and wellness specialist at Altru Health System. With a positive approach to overall wellness, she inspires people to take control of their lives through a focused commitment toward better health and to make that choice a habitual and natural one. In her free time, Emily enjoys a good workout, playing tennis and spending time with her family and friends.

Training for Hunting, Training for Life: Todd’s Sports Advantage Story

Enrich - Published on September 1, 2016

Todd before and afterWhen most people think of time at the lake, they picture relaxation: lying out on a tube, maybe a book in one hand and a cold beverage in the other. But, for Todd Benson, time at the lake this summer looked quite different.

“I would tread water with a 20-pound weight vest, and walk up and down the sandy beach in hunting boots with a weighted backpack,” explains Todd.

This was part of his regular workout routine. With guidance from experts at Altru’s Sports Advantage powered by EXOS, Todd has now lost over 40 pounds to get in shape for elk hunting.

“It definitely caught me off-guard when Todd walked into my office the first week of March and said, ‘I need to lose 40 pounds before hunting season,’” explains Danielle Rancourt, performance dietitian. She continues, “I’ve had clients come to me for weight loss advice for various reasons, such as weddings, abnormal lab values or athletics, but never for hunting specifically. I was excited to be a part of this unique journey.” 

40 lb weight

Todd holding a 40-pound weight to represent the amount of weight he lost with the help of Danielle Rancourt, performance dietitian.

An Enjoyable Experience
This month, Todd’s headed out to Wyoming to surprise an old high school friend. The two plan to go elk hunting in the mountains, and Todd is looking forward to a more enjoyable hunting experience at a lighter weight and improved fitness level.

“Hunting may seem like a pretty recreational activity; however, being in better shape can change the game,” says Danielle. “Hunting requires a respectable aerobic base, as you are typically walking on uneven, obstacle-packed grounds for hours. You’re carrying extra weight in gear, and if you’re lucky enough to hit your target, getting that 200-pound animal back to your truck can be quite the strength and conditioning workout.”

700x700_Hunting Snacks_1

Jordan McIntyre, chiropractor, adds, “Hunting, like any other sport, can be physically demanding. Expecting to be able to handle the physical demand without training beforehand can have consequences that will keep you on the sideline and out of the field. It’s always good to come in and get checked out by your primary care provider and chiropractor before increasing your physical activity.”

700x700_Hunting Training Tips

“The best part about Sports Advantage is the accountability,” shares Todd, who started going this spring after his teenage son and daughter had been working out there. “Because I travel often for my work in medical sales, every week looks a little different. But, I like to work out at 5:30 a.m., noon or 5:45 p.m.” Todd trains at Sports Advantage about two times per week, and also meets with Danielle every Friday morning for a weigh-in and nutrition consult. He also enjoys using the VersaClimber at Sports Advantage and Haute Yogis in East Grand Forks.

Something Different Every Day
Prior to joining Altru’s Sports Advantage powered by EXOS, Todd used to do his own thing at the gym, usually including time on the elliptical, stair stepper and weights. “I was in a workout rut. This really breaks up the routine, and that’s why it works for me,” explains Todd. “My body never knows what to expect, so I’m working my muscles in new ways. Every day it’s something different.”


At one point during the last six months, Todd hit a plateau in his weight loss. “I went through a three-week stretch where I just couldn’t lose.” With Danielle’s guidance, Todd realized how many extra calories he was consuming during frequent work trips and eating at restaurants. Todd started cutting out alcohol and skipping appetizers and desserts, and it worked.

“I can text Danielle photos of menu options, and she’ll reply with the best pick for me,” explains Todd. “I know the right kind of sushi to get, the right salad, even the right lean cut of steak.”

Texting Screenshot

Danielle shares, “It has been such a treat to work with Todd and watch him transform. Todd has a new liveliness and confidence to him, which is just as, if not more, rewarding than seeing the numbers fall off the scale.”

Todd’s next goal is to lose twenty additional pounds by Christmas. In the meantime, he’s looking forward to enjoying hunting more, and overall, enjoying life more.

Todd and Wife

Celebrate Sports Advantage powered by EXOS’ fall open house by enjoying a free week of Rally adult training classes, September 26 through October 1. You'll experience how our performance team can help you elevate your physical fitness and reach your goals. See the full schedule >>

Treating Patients Like Family | Billy Haug, MD

Faces of Altru - Published on September 1, 2016

BikingDr. Billy Haug’s warm personality and genuine caring spirit makes him a favorite around Altru Health System. His patients say his vested interest in their health and well-being, beyond their time at the clinic, is what sets him apart. We’ve heard from many of Dr. Haug’s patients recently on the care they’ve received, and all gave glowing reviews. So, we sat down with Dr. Haug to get to know him a little more and understand what drives him to treat each patient as though they were family.

Q: What is the focus of your work at Altru Advanced Orthopedics?
A. My practice focuses on medical orthopedic care, such as injury management, ultrasound guided injections, concussion management and promoting healthy lifestyle choices. I enjoy caring for those of all ages, from infants with hip dysplasia to folks in their nineties with arthritis.

Q: What have you done outside of the clinic in your field?
A. Earlier in my career I was a team physician for the USA Cross-Country Ski Team and Nordic Combined Team (which involves ski-jumping as well as cross-country skiing). I traveled with them to Norway and Finland. I also worked with the United States Anti-Doping Association at the World Junior Hockey Championship. Three years ago I was appointed to the North Dakota State Board of Medicine which meets three times a year in Bismarck.

Q: What is your approach to care?
A. I strive to be present for my patients — to really listen to them and understand their concerns. It is imperative to respect their wishes and to include them in the plan of care to reach their goals. My staff and I focus on treating everyone the way we would like our family members to be treated.

Q: What motivates you to do what you do?
A. Knowing my patients trust me with their care, and to care for their family, is humbling and rewarding. It motivates me to come to work every day with a smile knowing I can share a part of their lives. That trust is so special, and it is a bond I take seriously.


Q: Why did you choose to become a physician?
A. Growing up in Grafton, N.D., I had physicians who made a difference not only in my life, but in the community as a whole. One physician made a house call to see me on a cold winter’s day, and I have always remembered that. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives the way they did in mine.

Q: What do you do for fun?
A. My wife and I enjoy spending a lot of time with our children. We do outdoor activities and take them to live theater and musicals as much as we can. I also enjoy spending time in northeastern Minnesota paddling my kayak, taking part in bicycle endurance races and playing the guitar.


Q: What do you do outside of your role at Altru?
A. For the last five years I have volunteered to read weekly at my children’s elementary school in “Book Buddies.” It is a wonderful way to start a day! I am also involved with Special Olympics, volunteering at the annual soccer and bocce ball tournament and at local events. My son has Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome), and he is excited now that he is old enough to participate in Special Olympics! Additionally, I am the medical director for the Wild Hog Marathon in Grand Forks. It's a historic event this year as it’s the first full distance running marathon in Grand Forks!

Q: Where would you like to travel?
A. When I traveled with the USA Ski Team, I befriended a physician and a few coaches from Russia. Hearing their stories gave me some serious perspective. It is a place I've since wanted to visit and hopefully reestablish those friendships. I’d also love to take my children to England and expose them to where the famous British romantic poets lived. My daughter would especially love to see the new "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" theater production in London.

Q: What would you like to be if you weren’t a physician?
A. The scientist in me would have loved to be a university professor, studying the ecology of the rain forests in South America. The humanitarian in me would love to be a writer, using verse to share the human experience. Don’t look for my work in libraries or bookstores anytime soon, but maybe someday I’ll make an attempt!

One Last Dance | Fulfilling Marvin's Final Wish through Altru's Hospice

Altru Moments - Published on August 24, 2016

Dancing with DaughterAfter arriving home from their daughter Tanisha’s fourth grade graduation, Olisa and Marvin Charboneau were visiting about how great the day was. Marvin stated this would be the last graduation or event he would attend. Most fathers dream of one day walking their daughter down the aisle and dancing together during the father-daughter dance to celebrate her wedding day. For Marvin Charboneau this dream would not come true.

Marvin was diagnosed with end stage renal failure or kidney failure in 2006. For the past nine years, Marvin received hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis at home. In August of 2015, Marvin decided on his own to stop dialysis and enjoy his remaining time with his wife, children, family and friends.

On December 27, 2015, Marvin was admitted to Altru’s Hospice of Devils Lake. Marvin enjoyed all of the nurses, the social worker and the aides who provided care to him for the past seven months.

During one of the visits, Stephanie, Altru’s Hospice social worker, was visiting with Marvin’s wife Olisa, and she shared this would be Marvin's last graduation and he would not get to dance with his daughter at her wedding. Stephanie knew of a special program through Altru’s Hospice, the Sentimental Journey program, which provides patients and their family one last special wish to experience. Sentimental Journey is made possible through generous donors.

On June 17, 2016, Marvin’s wish came true; he was going to be able to have one last dance with his daughter.

Marvin Dancing

The DJ was booked, the food was ordered, guests and family were invited and the hall was decorated in purple, yellow and white, for his favorite football team, The Minnesota Vikings.

Vikings Jersey

Marvin loved everything about the evening, and he cried when he got home. He was touched that someone would hold a dance in his honor so he could have a special, final dance with his daughter.

Marvin passed away July 4, 2016, at the age of 41 years old.

He was married to his childhood sweetheart Olisa for nearly 20 years. He was the father of three children: Brendon Belgarde Jr., Womdee Belgarde and Tanisha Grace Charboneau.

Marvin and Family

About Altru’s Hospice
Hospice is a special kind of care for patients and families facing a life-limiting illness. At the center of hospice is the belief that each of us has the right to die pain-free and with dignity, and that our families will receive the necessary support to allow us to do so.

At Altru’s Hospice, comfort care is the hallmark of our program. Because we are your hometown hospice, we can identify community resources which may be of help during this time. Altru’s Hospice has locations in Grand Forks, Cavalier, Devils Lake, Grafton, Park River and McVille, North Dakota, and Warren, Minnesota.

Larissa KadlecLarissa Kadlec, community relations coordinator with Altru’s Home Health and Hospice, has been with Altru for 10 years. She oversees, plans and implements public relations and marketing activities to support home health and hospice. Larissa enjoys spending time at the lake with her family and dog in the summer and attending UND hockey games in the winter.

Fishtail Braids, Painted Nails & Countless S’mores | How Three Young Men Went the Extra Mile for Camp Good Mourning

It's Altru - Published on August 24, 2016

Jess Gowan, a Camp Good Mourning volunteer and instructor at the University of North Dakota, wrote this open letter to the parents of Deane B., Wade and Wyatt, volunteers at the 2016 Camp Good Mourning.

CGM Volunteers

Coming from a family of sports fanatics, my son had barely entered the world when my husband and I began fielding the big question, “What sports will your son play?”

As entertaining as it is to debate this topic, it is the least of my concerns as a new mother. Instead, I lie awake holding our sleeping child at night and ask myself, 'How do we raise a young man who is selfless? How do we teach chivalry? How can we show him the value of honest, hard work?'

After spending the weekend volunteering with your sons, I realized I should ask you these parenting questions, because clearly you know the answers.

I met your sons through my work for Altru Health System. I was tasked with coordinating volunteers for  Altru’s Hospice Camp Good Mourning, an annual grief camp for children and teens. Each year, as soon as our application opens, females immediately sign up to volunteer. However, males are not as quick to apply. A month before the event, I posted on social media a desperate cry for male volunteers. Thankfully, many men, including your sons, responded to this plea.

Two weeks before camp, your 20-year-old sons received an email stating they were not assigned to be counselors. Instead, they would be helping with arts and crafts.

Although this was not what your sons signed up for, I never received a message saying any of them wanted to back out. I never heard an excuse or complaint, even though they would be giving up an entire summer weekend to lead kids in painting and making tie-dye projects. Instead, they showed up to camp ready to take on the challenge.

Embracing Their Role and Going the Extra Mile
These three men impressed me and the entire staff from the moment camp began. They didn’t just go through the motions; they went the extra mile and completely embraced their role as arts and crafts counselors, with humility and responsibility.

When they got to camp, these men learned they were in charge of teaching campers how to make jewelry from t-shirts. Deane, Wade, and Wyatt took notes as they received a crash course on jewelry-making. They borrowed a fellow volunteer’s phone to look on Pinterest and learn different ways to create bracelets and necklaces. They even researched how to make fishtail braids as a technique to show campers. With hardly any advance notice, they did everything in their power to be the best shirt-jewelry designers in the state of North Dakota.

Jess and her sonThroughout the weekend, Deane, Wade, and Wyatt were selfless and empathic. In between activities, they could have taken naps or sat in the lounge. Instead, they walked around camp asking staff members what they could do to be helpful. They moved tables, cleaned up paint, took inventory of craft supplies, and helped campers make more than 100 s’mores. They swept floors without being asked, and they did every task with enthusiasm. When young campers set up a nail polish station, they agreed to be their customers even though that meant they would go through the entire weekend with colored nails.

Deane, Wade, and Wyatt did everything with passion and purpose. I hope to have them back at camp so they can be role models to fellow volunteers. It was a privilege to volunteer with them at camp, and it would be an honor to work with them in the years to come.

As a mom, I can see how hard it is to raise good kids. It gives me hope to see what a great job you did as parents and, as my own son grows, I hope to instill similar virtues.

Jess GowanJess Gowan is a Camp Good Mourning volunteer and instructor in the Communications department at the University of North Dakota. After completing her undergraduate degree in Ohio and her master's degree in Illinois, she backpacked through Europe to explore different cultures first-hand. Jess is a wife and mother who enjoys running, organizing and technology.

Prevent an ACL Tear with These 4 Tips

Enrich - Published on August 8, 2016

ACL TearWhen you’ve torn your anterior cruciate ligament – one of the major ligaments in the knee – you’ve torn your ACL. While some may describe the pain as excruciating and accompanied by a loud popping noise, others could tell you they didn’t even know it was torn. Anthony Morando, a performance manager at Altru’s Sports Advantage powered by EXOS, said both athletes and non-athletes can suffer an ACL tear. “Unfortunately, ACL tears can occur from trauma or other unpredicted events, whether during a sport or day-to-day life,“ Morando said.

“ACL injuries often occur when your foot is planted on the ground and a sudden force hits your knee while your leg is straight or slightly bent,” Morando explains. “This can happen when you are changing direction, decelerating while running or landing from a jump. ACL tears are very common, but fortunately most non-contact ACL tears can be prevented with proper training or lifestyle factors,” Morando said. Altru Advanced Orthopedics’ orthopedic surgeon Darin Leetun agrees some tears just occur from “being hit awkwardly,” but in some situations preventing the injury is possible. Dr. Leetun and Morando weighed in on a few habits that will facilitate an injury-free future.

Lose Weight by Moving More
Being overweight can lead to heart disease and diabetes, but have you ever considered the amount of stress added weight places on your bones, joints, ligaments and tendons? Probably not. For every pound you are overweight, your skeleton experiences an additional four pounds of pressure. So, if you are 10 pounds overweight, your knees actually feel 40 pounds of added pressure. Over time, this added pressure can lead to arthritis, injuries and other weight-related illnesses.

People don’t move,” Morando said. “If people don’t move and take care of themselves, they are not only at risk of tearing their ACL, but they are at risk for other negative things.” If you are overweight and have not already started making strides toward a healthier body, start with just five minutes a day and gradually work your way up to 30 minutes a day. Even small weight loss takes big pressure off knees.


Always Warm Up
Warming up is injury-preventive because it increases your heart rate and circulation, which will increase blood flow to muscles and loosen joints. A warm-up can last anywhere from 20 minutes to a half-hour, but if you don’t have that much time, a quick five-minute routine of dynamic stretching will be enough. “Warming up is extremely important,” Morando said. “In order to properly train, you must properly warm up. This could mean pillar preparation, self-massage with a foam roller, active stretching, activation exercises such as mini-band work or movement preparation such as dynamic stretching and hip preparation."

Strength Train
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 20 percent of Americans regularly strength train. “You have to get stronger,” Morando said. “Training is rehab. You have to train all the major joints – not only the knee joints, but everything.” Morando said there is no “special training,” but any kind of hip-hinge movements, squats (at the appropriate progression) and deadlift patterns are important.

“People can avoid an ACL tear by having good balance, strength coordination and appropriate skills to accomplish the sport that they’re involved in,” Dr. Leetun said. Balance and coordination are increased when a person strength trains. Additional benefits include increased bone density and strength. Connective tissues becomes more elastic for furthering functional movement and lower fat body mass can be experienced.

Woman stretching

Rest and Recovery
It’s important to rest between activities or between periods in a game,” Dr. Leetun said. “[This] allows the body to re-energize, so the muscles can help protect against an ACL tear.” Morando added it’s also important to figure out what you can work versus what you need to rest. “If your right knee is injured, you have a left, and your whole upper body to train. If the best you can do is work all other extremities, then you should do it,” Morando said. “There are a lot of things we can do that won’t compromise recovering from surgery.”

Morando said that when you are not injured, training the body for function is the most important thing.  A routine that focuses on knee-dominant and upper push exercises, such as push ups, twice per week, then hip-dominant and upper-body pull exercises twice a week, helps to balance the body and provide a structured progression. This decreases the likely hood of overtraining a certain area.

It’s Already Torn. What Are My Options?
Dr. Leetun said deciding your treatment options comes down to age, intensity of sports activity and the individual’s tightness or looseness of knee. “Treatment of an ACL tear may include rehabilitation and then return to sport in a brace, versus surgical reconstruction,” Dr. Leetun said. “In general, ACL reconstruction is felt to be more of a necessity in younger individuals who are active in sports due to high risk of injury to structures of the knee due to instability.” Dr. Leetun added that age causes knees to stiffen, helping to avoid recurrent knee instability, which is associated with ACL tearing.

Experiencing an ACL tear may be more common than you’d like to think, but by moving more, losing a little weight and adopting an exercise routine that suits your body’s needs, you’re well on your way to having a long and healthy life, free of an ACL injury.

Learn more about the comprehensive care offered at Altru Advanced Orthopedics, including performance training at Sports Advantage powered by EXOS at

A Case for Colonoscopies | Protect Yourself. Get Checked.

Enrich - Published on August 8, 2016

Colonoscopy AppointmentColonoscopies aren’t something people like to talk about, but they should be on the top of your to-do list. They’re the best way to detect colorectal cancer in its early stages when it is most treatable, and they can be lifesaving.

Every year, more people die from colorectal cancers than either breast or prostate cancer. Colonoscopies detect cancer early and allow doctors to remove up to 98 percent of colorectal tumors. Early detection really does save lives for people with colorectal cancer. Due to advancements in detection and treatment, colorectal cancer death rate has been dropping for more than 20 years.

When to Start Screening
Follow these guidelines to understand when you should be screened:

  • Everyone needs to get regular colonoscopies beginning at age 50.

  • People with average risk should have a colonoscopy every 10 years, beginning at age 50 and continuing through age 75.

  • Individuals with increased risk are often advised to begin screenings before age 50, and/or get them more frequently.

  • If you are at increased risk, speak with your doctor about the most appropriate screening schedule for you.

For more information about what exactly a colonoscopy involves, see this handy infographic.

Colonoscopy Infographic

(Click to view larger.)

There’s no ifs, ands or “butts” about it: a screening colonoscopy is the best line of defense. If you’re 50 years old or at a higher risk for colon cancer, now’s the time to make an appointment. Call our experts at Altru’s Gastroenterology Clinic at 701.780.6533 or visit

If the cost of a colonoscopy is standing in your way, Altru Health System may have funding available through its No-Cost Colonoscopy program.

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