Friday, Apr 12th

acupunctureIf you’re feeling anxious about staying healthy this summer, you’re not alone. As the stressors pile up, it may be time to lie down, close your eyes, and go under the needle — the acupuncture needle, that is.

Acupuncture is a treatment that has existed for thousands of years. The fact that this treatment now often qualifies for insurance coverage shows that it’s finally recognized as an important complementary medicine; that is, when used alongside medication and other traditional treatment regimens, acupuncture can support healing and expedite recovery.

In fact, acupuncture is a preventative measure to keep such mood disorders as stress, anxiety and depression at bay, with minimal side effects. Receiving a series of treatments, combined with medication, yields optimal results. I always recommend that my patients use both. As they progress in their treatment, they often need less medication down the road.

The mind-body connection has received more attention than ever, thanks in part to the pandemic; last November, the CDC highlighted the intersection of anxiety, depression, and COVID-19. (Not only does the virus heighten the risk of depression and anxiety, but those with mood disorders appear to be at increased risk for COVID-19.) In keeping with that connection, acupuncture triggers physical changes in the body and brain that regulate mood and mindset.In the Know scarsdale 400x200

Inserting the needle stimulates the body’s calming parasympathetic nervous system, increases mood-enhancing brain chemicals, relaxes blood vessels, fights inflammation, and calms regions of the brain associated with stress. Acupuncture is a holistic medicine, in that it can be used to the entire body.

I tailor my approach to the individual patient, using sterile, single-use needles approved by the FDA. With each 45-minute treatment, I work my way down the body from head to foot, inserting needles into specific points. Most patients start to see results after four visits, with optimal effects after 14 treatments. Patients range from teenagers to senior citizens, all of whom benefit from treatment.

My own acupuncture journey dates back to when I practiced as an orthopedic surgeon in my native Cuba, In the 1990s, one of my family members had a herniated disc and went to an acupuncturist for treatment. I was skeptical: “You mean to tell me they’ll feel better with needles?” After several treatments, he did. Then I began to study it more seriously, and began studying acupuncture and complementary medicine on my way to completing advanced coursework in acupuncture for physicians at Harvard Medical School.

For the past two decades, I have focused on acupuncture as a treatment for diseases from cancer to the coronavirus.

This is science, not magic. Acupuncture cannot cure diabetes or hypertension, but it can help decrease blood pressure and increase blood flow. It cannot cure migraines, anxiety, or depression, but it can boost circulation, increase your appetite, and help you start to feel better.

For those preparing for or recovering from surgery, please note that acupuncture stimulates our natural ability for self-healing. And it can help bring the peace of mind that’s key to well-being. Anxiety and stress are underlying factors that can make diseases worse. Acupuncture helps relieve that.

Dr. Eugenio Jimenez de Castro is an acupuncturist at White Plains Hospital and owner of Acupuncture of Northern Westchester PLLC in Mount Kisco and White Plains. For an appointment, call 914-849-7653.

Nature2A new outdoor classroom and nature trail inspired by Scarsdale Middle School Teachers has become an integral part of the SMS learning experience.

Sixth Grade Science teacher Ben Turner explained how an unused stretch of woods along Mamaroneck Avenue and Catherine Road was reimagined as the setting for multi-discliplinary learning.

Turner said, “During the 2020-21 school year, I designed an Authentic Learning Unit focused on Ecology, which tasked my students with designing a nature trail in the unused, wooded lot adjacent to the tennis courts on the grounds of the middle school. In addition to planning a potential pathway through the area, they were also charged with creating augmented reality (AR) signs, which would highlight ecological concepts connected with local flora and fauna. In the spring of 2021, my students submitted their proposals and signs as an open-ended, summative assessment. The augmented reality platform that they used to create the signs is called ZapWorks. (If you intend to scan any of the signs posted along the trail, download the app Zappar to unlock the digital content.)”

Turner continued, “Behind the scenes that same spring, I began asking around about the status of the would-be trail area. It turned out that other members of the Science Department as well as the Physical Education Department had also been trying to gain momentum in utilizing the land for various educational purposes. In the spirit of collaboration, several of us approached Principal Meghan Troy for permission to propose some summer professional development days in order to get the proverbial ball rolling. As always, she was incredibly supportive, asking what she could do to help bring our vision to fruition. “

Building the Trailbuilding the trailTeachers built the trail with help from the Buildings and Grounds Department.

Once approved, the trail had to be built. Turner says, “For two days during the summer of 2021 Bob Keith and Kevin Roemer (Physical Education) as well as Jessica Lincoln, Travis Richards, and myself (Science) worked with the district facilities/grounds crew to create what is now called the "inner loop" of the SMS Nature Trail. Using a chain saw and a backhoe, an elliptical path was rototilled near the center of the lot and many, many dump trucks' worth of wood chips were laid down. An outdoor classroom area was added to one "corner" of the trail as well. My students' AR signs were placed around the periphery of the loop and a welcome sign was installed at the trail entrance. The sign was created by one of my students using her iPad.”

The 2020-21 School Year

Turner says, “Over the course of the 2021-22 school year, the SMA Nature Trail was visited frequently. Scarsdale Teachers Institute classes and department meetings were held in the outdoor classroom area. Many teachers took their classes to the trail for some al fresco reading sessions. There were several projects inspired by the trail.

Alex Fung's music classes worked on natural soundscapes.

Jessie Fass brought her students to the trail to research organic textures for a project focused on artist Yayoi Kasuma.

Michelle Gould held mindfulness and meditation classes.

Meghan Lahey worked with her students on Earth Day Haikus using found materials.

natureFlipGridAugmented Reality (AR) signs highlight ecological concepts connected with local flora and fauna. The Cooper 6 team created QR codes which linked to videos of them suggesting ways of "Finding Balance" while walking the trail.

During our school-wide Wellness Wednesday back in March, students created a Painted Rock Garden.

The trail was in so much demand that technology guru Michael Pincus worked with Turner to create a self-sustaining Google reservation calendar in order to manage the trail's use.

Spring 2022

In the spring of 2022, Turner’s students again created ecology-themed and locally relevant AR signs for the trail. Around that time, the original team responsible for the inception of the trail got together to brainstorm what was next in its development. The Physical Education department designed a mountain biking unit and are eager to install some trails in order to implement it during the 2022-23 school year. Just this past Monday, the team congregated in the "inner loop" and created the new "outer loop", consisting of half a dozen or so biking trails. These paths were created using string trimmers, rakes, hedge clippers, and shovels. They lined them with logs and branches left in situ and cleaned up several bags' worth of litter that had accumulated over many years.

Moving into the 2022-23 school year there are even more exciting projects planned for the SMS Nature Trail. For example, the Cooper 6 team intends to install a wildflower garden along the front entrance as part of their "Growing Kindness" theme for the year. Also, the Library Media Specialist, Shana Frazin, and Technology Education teacher, Caroline Quentin, are working on signage for a Story Walk exhibit.outdoorclassroomThe outdoor classroom

During this quiet time of the year, you can experience the nature trail. Access it from Catherine Road and wander inside. Scan the QR codes on your phone. You’ll be surprised at all you will find and learn. Watch a video about the trail here.

copperimagesCopper images inspired by the trail.naturetrailHere's where to find the trail.

back painBack pain is something that most people will experience sometime in their lifetimes; in fact, it is estimated that 80% of Americans will experience such pain at some point in their lives.

There are of course a number of methods to alleviate such pain. Depending upon its severity and cause, solutions run the gamut from over-the-counter and prescribed pain medications to a host of surgeries; the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) identifies nine, including vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty for fractured vertebra; discectomy and microdiscectomy, wherein a herniated disc is removed through an incision in the back; and spinal laminectomy, wherein the lamina (or bony walls) of the vertebrae are removed.

To those I would add the fluoroscopic spinal injection, a minimally invasive procedure for those suffering from severe arm, leg, neck, or back pain. The procedure’s goals are to determine out the exact cause and location of the patient’s pain, and to provide relief from that pain.

The injection itself is a mixture of local anesthetic and a steroid, such as cortisone. If the patient experiences immediate pain relief, that will be due to the local anesthetic and mean that the correct cause of the pain has been determined. The steroid is used to reduce inflammation and pain in the longer-term.In the Know scarsdale 400x200

As for “fluoroscopic,” that means that a fluoroscope (or X-ray) is used to guide the needle into the exact location that your physician/surgeon believes is causing you pain. Fluoroscopic spinal injections are often used on patients suffering from spinal stenosis, back pain, herniated discs, degenerative discs, sciatica, and other conditions.

By providing relief that can last for several months, and by identifying precisely from where the pain is originating, your physician can help develop a regimen for further down the road which, admittedly, could ultimately lead to surgery.

But the fluoroscopic spinal injection is an attractive and valuable option. It is a minimally invasive procedure that requires no sedation (although sedation is available), can be done in our office and usually takes 15-30 minutes. If the procedure is successful, it is considered reasonable to repeat it up to 3 times a year, based on the patient’s individual response and requirements.

If the treated region is indeed the cause of the patient’s pain, the patient may experience immediate pain relief, and longer-lasting pain relief 2-5 days after the injection.

Note that the procedure should not be performed on anyone who is pregnant, has an infection, or suffers from bleeding problems.

For further information, discuss with your physician the possibilities that a fluoroscopic spinal injection may offer you.

spinner david cropDr. David Spinner is Director of Pain Management at White Plains Hospital. For an appointment, call 914-849-1199.

exerciseYou’ve got only 20 minutes free to hit the gym. Should you even bother going?

Absolutely! In fact, I have found 20 minutes to be the ideal workout length. I personally makes it a point to fit such “express” workouts into my days spent practicing medicine, and I encourage patients to follow suit to stay healthy, without burnout.

The 20-minute workout is a habit I started many years ago. During medical school, when I was under pressure and didn’t have a lot of time, I learned that if I just went to the gym for 20 minutes, and got my weights and cardio in, it was totally doable. And it was more useful than a longer workout because I had time to complete it consistently.

In addition, although I’ve tried various fitness routines over the years, I always return to the practice of yoga for its focus on finding moments of calm through deep, slow breathing. I especially enjoy aerial yoga, a form of assisted yoga with hammocks and silks.

When the COVID-19 lockdown temporarily forced the suspension of gym and fitness center activities, I migrated online by following Yoga With Adriene, a popular instructor on YouTube. Adriene’s 30-day yoga challenges, often done in 15- or 20-minute sessions, complemented my approach of fast, feasible workouts.

Like many people, I have back issues, which means that I’m not the most flexible. But I love how yoga makes me feel relaxed and ready to take on the day.In the Know scarsdale 400x200

In fact, I have incorporated the breathwork practiced on the yoga mat into my visits with patients, who can come into my office carrying a lot of anxiety and stress. When I ask them to take a breath while listening to their lungs, I can hear the tightness in their chest. And their blood pressure tends to increase in the office — a phenomenon known as white-coat hypertension, which is common among those he treats. For many patients, slow breathing for two minutes helps bring their blood pressure down.

Again, rather than give up on exercising when you find yourself pressed for time, consider these healthy alternatives. The best way to stick with any fitness routine is to make sure it fits into your schedule. If the prospect of spending an hour-plus at the gym feels daunting or downright impossible, don’t do it. Anything you can tackle in small increments or tiny bites is your best bet.

Hart Headshot copyDr. Douglas J. Hart is Director of Echocardiography at White Plains Hospital. He specializes in cardiovascular disease, echocardiography, and nuclear cardiology. For an appointment, call 914-849-4800.

Dancing w StarsThe Autism Science Foundation (ASF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding innovative autism research and supporting families facing autism, announced that The Real Housewives of New Jersey stars Teresa Giudice and her fiance, Luis “Louie” Ruelas, will serve as celebrity judges alongside former Dancing with the Stars professional partner Tony Dovolani at the inaugural Dancing Stars of Westchester gala on June 18, 2022, presented by the Fred Astaire Dance Studios of Mamaroneck, NY and benefiting ASF.

Modeled after the popular Dancing With the Stars television show, this event pairs prominent New York-area personalities with talented professionals from the Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Mamaroneck in dazzling performance rounds judged by Giudice, Ruelas and Dovolani to earn them one of two coveted mirror ball trophies. Fans of Teresa, Louie and Tony have the ability to “vote” for the stars on the event website–and votes are cast in the form of donations to ASF.

“I am so proud to judge the Dancing Stars of Westchester gala benefiting the Autism Science Foundation,” said Ruelas, an entrepreneur and co-founder of Digital Media Solutions. “As the father of a young adult son with autism, we are living the autism journey alongside so many other families ASF serves. This event combines a fun party with a beautiful cause. It will raise funds for autism research, which will have a positive impact on the life of my son and others with autism.”

“I am so excited to judge the Dancing Stars of Westchester event with Louie,” said Giudice. “He is an amazing father to his sons and my daughters and I have learned so much more about autism through them. As everyone knows, I love a good party and it’s even better when it supports such an amazing nonprofit like the Autism Science Foundation. We are going to have so much fun!”

“As the father of a son with autism and a person who has dedicated my career to ballroom dance, I cannot think of a better event to judge than this one,” said Dovolani, who now serves as International Dance Director for Fred Astaire Dance Studios. “Dance has the power to transform lives and I thank the talented professional dancers at Fred Astaire Mamaroneck for partnering with these local stars to raise money for a cause close to my heart.”

“We are incredibly grateful to Teresa, Louie and Tony for donating their time and talent for our inaugural Dancing Stars of Westchester gala,” said ASF Co-Founder and President Alison Singer. “We appreciate that they are using their global platforms to spread the word about the importance of evidence-based research and interventions that will help people with autism thrive.”

Dancing Stars of Westchester will take place on June 18 at the Hampshire Country Club in Mamaroneck, NY. To learn more about the event, including how to buy tickets (including a meet-and-greet opportunity with Tony Dovoani and Teresa and Louie) and vote for the stars, click here to reach www.dancingstarswestchester.com.

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