Local Health Innovations in Rhode Island

From equine therapy to new trends in weight loss, we consulted local experts on all things health and wellness.

Courtesy of Rhode Island Yoga Center.

Alt-Work Workouts

When the clock ticks and noon strikes, beat the midday work blues with an alt-lunch workout. Skip the sweets (and carbs!), sweat it out and refresh yourself for the second half of your workday.

Where to go: Providence Power Yoga
51 Bassett St., Providence, 273-3500, providencepoweryoga.com
What to expect: Between meetings and conference calls, find your inner Zen with a midday yoga break full of downward dogs and other poses.
The Details: Mon.–Fri. 12:15–1 p.m. $5.

Where to go: True Reflections Dance and Fitness
426 Buttonwoods Ave., Warwick, 739-2635, trdancefitness.com
What to expect: Reduce the stress of heavy workloads with the ancient Chinese tradition, Tai chi. The practice consists of slow movements and deep breathing.
The Details: Tues. Noon–12:45 p.m. $5.

Where to go: Orangetheory Fitness
4 Chapel View Blvd., Cranston, 830-2812; 563 North Main St., Providence, 369-8008, orangetheoryfitness.com
What to expect: Strap on a heart rate monitor, get your blood pumping and prepare for a color-coded workout consisting of running, rowing and more.
The Details: Mon.–Fri. Noon–1 p.m. See website for rates.

Where to go: Rhode Island Yoga Center
99 Fortin Rd., Kingston, 307-5181, riyogacenter.com
What to expect: Break up your day, get out of the office and practice your breathing on a guilt-free lunch break. Plus, focus on your best warrior or tree pose and leave your work behind.
The Details: Mon., Wed., Fri. 12:30–1:15 p.m. $5.


Time is of the Essence

A local treatment puts patients’ recovery from severe stroke within reach.

There are big things happening in your own backyard. So big, in fact, they could save your life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone in the United States has a stroke every forty minutes, 87 percent of which block blood flow to the brain. While this is alarming, here’s some good news: Rhode Islanders can receive advanced stroke care at Rhode Island Medical Imaging provided by imaging radiologists and clinical innovators Dr. Ryan McTaggart, Dr. Mahesh Jayaraman and Dr. Richard Haas.

Even better news: There’s a cure. The answer to severe strokes, or emergent large vessel occlusions (ELVO), is a cutting-edge procedure called a mechanical thrombectomy. “Patients who are suffering from a severe stroke that come to Rhode Island Hospital are quickly taken to the biplane neuro and geography suite,” says McTaggart. “We immediately access an artery in the upper leg or wrist and deliver a hollow plastic tube from that artery to the artery in the neck. Through that hollow tube, we put a smaller plastic tube up into the brain and deploy a device called a stent retriever to directly remove the obstructing blood clot. This technique is called Captive.”

Patients who undergo this treatment right away have a high potential for full recovery, as blood flow is restored within fifteen to twenty minutes. A stroke is a time-sensitive medical emergency and Rhode Islanders are only an arm’s reach away from care that could save their life within minutes.
“The three of us ensure that everyone in this region has timely access to medical thrombectomies as a standard of care that people deserve to have,” McTaggart says.

When not on call every three weeks, the only local doctors who perform this surgery also spend their time addressing regulations in the way patients experience triage. The quicker someone who is having a severe stroke can be treated, the better their outcome. To speed up the process, the doctors also educate first responders on the severity of stroke, noting who needs to be seen immediately for a severe stroke versus someone whose stroke is mild.

Through their efforts and participation in stroke trials, Rhode Island’s stroke care delivery unit is fueling the push forward for better care not only locally, but globally too. They have taken steps to drive innovation in health care and are working towards providing top-notch service, alongside the computer science department at Brown University, by using artificial intelligence to detect and identify patients with stroke and cancer earlier. Interventional oncology techniques that relate to breast, lung, kidney and liver cancers are also being tested.


What’s New in Weight Loss?

Besides trending diet fads, weight loss surgery is as common as ever.

We’ve got Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem and numerous diets including keto and paleo, but what about weight loss surgery? It’s not as uncommon as you might think.

Roger Williams Medical Center has hosted more than 3,000 weight loss surgeries, many performed by Dr. Dieter Pohl. These minimally invasive surgeries, approved by the FDA, include a sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass, both of which are common among people who are at least 100 pounds overweight and are looking for a way to drop some pounds.

“It’s a long road for people to just try dieting and some exercise,” says Pohl. “Many people lose five to ten pounds every two to three months, but that doesn’t mean it will continue for an extended period of time as it is also time consuming and expensive. Statistically, weight loss surgery is the most effective because studies show that even ten to fifteen years later, most people keep about 75 percent of that weight off. That weight loss after fifteen years is still about 25 percent of the total initial body weight.”

Of course, each person is different and each weight loss method works differently for everyone. Many factors play a role in weight gain or loss. Pohl says that before surgery, patients must try to lose weight on their own and must see a dietician and nutritionist several times, as well as consult a mental health worker and support groups. They must also fall into the criteria of a body mass index (BMI) of at least thirty-five and face other medical problems.

He notes that there are a few ways to lose varying percentages of weight, whether through surgery or another option:

Medications or diet programs: Medications or diet programs can aid in some weight loss. About 10 percent of total body weight is lost over a one-year period.

Balloon method: A balloon is placed in the stomach organ, located behind the sternum just behind the heart, during an endoscopy. It is filled with fluid and acts as if your stomach is full. The balloon lasts for six months and people achieve 10 to 15 percent of body weight loss.

Sleeve gastrectomy surgery: 80 percent of the stomach organ is removed and patients are left with a long, thin stomach. After a year, patients can expect a loss of around 30 percent of body weight.

Gastric bypass: The stomach is left about the size of an egg and the intestines are re-routed so that food doesn’t get absorbed into the body. The weight loss percentage for one year is about one third of a person’s body weight.

For quite some time, (upwards of a year), many people who opt for surgery don’t have much of an appetite simply because the stomach organ is much smaller.

“At the end of the day, nobody wants to follow a strict diet or have surgery,” says Pohl. “However, people should realize that being overweight can affect more than just blood pressure or cause diabetes. It can cause liver cirrhosis and a number of other health-related issues, too.”

Obesity is an epidemic in our country, but if many people took care of their weight early on, liver transplants, knee replacements and everything else in between wouldn’t be necessary. Plus, weight loss surgery is even shown to increase lifespan. “We could prolong so many people’s lives if we just did more for our health and paid attention to obesity and how to avoid it,” he says.


Rhode Island Medical Trials and Studies

The Navigator Trial
Run by: Dr. Francesca Beaudoin, emergency department physician at Rhode Island Hospital and Dr. Brandon Marshall, epidemiologist at Brown University.
What it is: The study will conduct a randomized controlled trial of behavioral interventions following an Emergency Department visit for an opioid overdose. They will determine the effectiveness of peer recovery support versus a standard behavioral intervention in the Emergency Department following a visit for opioid overdose. Participants will be monitored for eighteen months. Two primary outcomes include a treatment engagement within thirty days or recurrent Emergency Department visits for an overdose. The study will determine if participants in peer navigation are more likely to engage in treatment after the Emergency Department visit and subsequently prevent repeat overdoses.

Clostridium Difficile
Treatment Study Run by:
Dr. Colleen Kelly, gastroenterologist with the Women’s Medicine Collaborative at Lifespan.
What it is: This study involves giving participants with recurring Clostridium difficile infections, a toxin-producing bacterium that can infect the bowel, an oral FMT (fecal microbiota transplant) or placebo. The study will show if oral FMT can prevent recurrence.

Interventional Hypertension
Trial Run by:
Dr. Herbert Aronow, director of the interventional cardiology and cardiac catheterization laboratories, Rhode Island Hospital and Miriam Hospital.
What it is: This trial is for patients with difficult to control hypertension and will focus on the use of innovative techniques to lower blood pressure without the use of medication.

For more information, visit lifespan.org.

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