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Healthy eating and physical activity are keys to your child’s well-being. Eating too much and exercising too little may lead to excess body weight and related health problems that may follow them as adults. Here’s how to help your family learn healthy eating and physical activity habits that last a lifetime:

  • Buy and serve more fruits and vegetables. Let your children choose them at the store.
  • Buy fewer soft drinks and high-fat, high-calorie snacks like chips, candy and cookies. Not having these temptations in the house will make the healthy choice easier.
  • Make sure your children eat breakfast every day. Breakfast provides your children with the energy they need to listen and learn in school. Skipping breakfast can leave your children hungry, tired and looking for less-healthy foods later.
  • Eat fast food less often. When you visit a fast-food restaurant, encourage your family to choose healthy options.
  • Offer your children water or low-fat milk more often than fruit juice. Juice that is one-hundred-percent fruit juice is a healthy choice, but it’s high in calories so serve it sparingly.
  • Limit the amount of saturated and trans fat in your family’s diet. Instead, get your fats from sources such as fish, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.
  • Plan healthy meals and eat together as a family.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your children won’t eat a new food the first time it’s served. Some kids need to have a new food served 10 times or more before they’ll eat it. Let your kids assist in preparing meals. They’re more likely to eat food chosen and prepared by them.
  • Avoid using food as a reward when encouraging kids to eat. Promising dessert for eating vegetables sends the message that vegetables are less valuable than dessert.
  • Start with small servings and let your children ask for more if they’re still hungry. They should determine the amount of food they need, and the amount a child eats can vary from day to day.
  • Be aware that some high-fat or high-sugar foods and beverages are strongly marketed to kids. Usually these products are associated with cartoon characters, offer free toys and come in bright packages.
  • Set a good exercise example. If your children see that you’re physically active and having fun, they’re more likely to be active throughout life. Fun physical activities that kids choose are often the best. Kids need about 60 minutes of physical activity a day, but this doesn’t have to happen all at once. Several short bursts throughout the day can be just as good, as is being active together as a family.

All of these tips can help you and your family stay healthy for years to come. By making small changes to your daily habits, your family can stay health and active. To learn more about keeping your family healthy, visit

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Many people consider varicose veins to be simply a cosmetic issue, so they delay treatment or avoid it completely. The truth is, untreated varicose veins can progress to a more serious form of vein (venous) disease called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), which can present more serious signs and symptoms of venous reflux disease.

Healthy leg veins contain valves that open and close to assist the return of blood back to the heart. Venous reflux disease develops when the valves that keep blood flowing out of the legs and back to the heart become damaged or diseased. As a result, vein valves will not close properly, leading to symptoms of:

  • Varicose veins
  • Pain
  • Swollen limbs
  • Leg heaviness and fatigue
  • Skin changes and skin ulcers
  • Tight feeling calves or itchy painful legs
  • Pain during walking that stops with rest
  • Brown-colored skin, particularly near the ankles

CVI occurs when the leg veins do not allow blood to travel back to the heart. Problems with valves in the veins can cause the blood to flow both directions, not just toward the heart. These valves that are not working properly can cause blood in the legs to pool. If chronic venous insufficiency is left untreated, pain, swelling, and leg ulcers may result.

CVI does not pose a serious health threat, but the condition can be disabling and cause pain. It is more common among those who are obese, pregnant, or who have a family history of the problem. Individuals who have had trauma to the leg through injury, surgery, or previous blood clots are also more likely to develop the condition.

Other causes of CVI include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • High blood pressure in the leg veins over a long time, due to sitting or standing for prolonged periods
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in a deep vein, usually in the calf or thigh)
  • Phlebitis (swelling and inflammation of a superficial vein, usually in the legs)

Specific treatment will be determined by your doctor based on a number of factors, including:

  • Your age, overall health and medical history
  • Extent of the disease
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Your signs and symptoms
  • Expectations for the course of the disease

The symptoms of CVI may resemble other conditions. You should consult your doctor for a diagnosis. You do not need to live with CVI or its symptoms.

Symptoms can worsen over time if left untreated and cause serious health problems. Fortunately, several minimally-invasive treatment options are available that are covered by many insurance plans, such as the VNUS Closure® procedure available through Fort HealthCare Surgical Associates. Visit to learn more, and link to the self-assessment tool available there.

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Certified athletic trainers (ATC) do more than watch a sporting event from the sidelines or tape athlete’s ankles.  They are health care professionals trained to work in a variety of settings and with many different types of people – not just athletes.  An ATC collaborates with physicians to optimize the activity and participation of patients and clients.  Athletic training encompasses the prevention, diagnosis and intervention of emergency, acute, and chronic medical conditions involving impairment, functional limitations, and disabilities. 

The area receiving media attention lately is athletic trainers saving lives in the form of concussion recognition and care.  A concussion is a type of mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) that interferes with normal function of the brain.  It can be caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or body. The head does not have to hit something to cause a concussion.  A force transmitted to the head can be enough to bounce the brain and cause a concussion.

Parents and coaches are not expected to be able to diagnose a concussion.  That is the role of an appropriate health care provider.  Many high school trainers are not actually athletic trainers. They may be skilled in first aid, but not certified to recognize a possible head trauma.  The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) currently recognizes physicians and licensed athletic trainers as appropriate sports medicine staff.

Parents, coaches and athletes should be aware of signs and symptoms of a concussion.  Symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Vision problems
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Feeling foggy or sluggish
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in emotion

Athletes should never try to “tough it out” when experiencing concussion symptoms. If an athlete returns to activity before being fully healed from a concussion, he/she is at risk for a repeat concussion.  This can slow the recovery process and lead to long-term problems.  In the most severe case, it can lead to death.  Always remove an athlete from play if a concussion is suspected. 

Fort HealthCare offers ImPACT, a computerized neurocognitive assessment tool, which can be used to determine an athlete’s readiness to return to play after a concussion. Widely used by collegiate and professional sports teams, it’s the most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system. Prior to a concussion, a baseline screening establishes an individual’s normal ImPACT score. Should a concussion occur, the test can be re-administered to assist health care providers in making return-to-play decisions. To learn more or to schedule a baseline screening, visit

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Between winter colds and springtime sprains, you may feel as if you qualify for frequent-flier status at your child’s pediatrician’s office. But while your child may have had ample face time with the doctor this year, don’t forget to schedule an annual physical exam.
   Dubbed “well-child” visits, these physicals are about more than weight checks or getting the OK to play soccer. The doctor can assess your child’s development, nutrition and fitness; screen for illnesses or conditions; and counsel on emotional problems, learning difficulties and puberty.

Bring a list of questions or concerns and encourage your child, if old enough, to do the same. During an annual checkup, the doctor:

  • Conducts a thorough physical exam. In addition to measuring your child’s height, weight and head circumference, the doctor will examine his or her skin, eyes, ears, heart, lungs, and musculoskeletal and neurological development. The doctor also will review your child’s health history and update immunizations.
  • Orders screenings and tests. The doctor may prescribe vision and hearing tests; a lead screening; a tuberculin test; a urinalysis; and tests for anemia, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
  • Updates your plan for chronic conditions. Does your child have asthma, diabetes or another health concern? Have any symptoms changed? Discuss with the doctor how the condition affects your child emotionally.
  • Promotes healthy lifestyle choices. Does your child hound you for candy or fast food or battle you over computer time? Your doctor can explain the importance of healthful eating and suggest appropriate physical activities for good health.
  • Tackles tough topics. Parents may find it hard to bring up alcohol or drug use, smoking, sexuality, depression and more. Your doctor can discuss injury and violence prevention and explain puberty changes—especially important for a middle-schooler or teen who seeks advice from peers.

Yearly physicals offer a chance for your child to build a trusting relationship with another adult and establish a lifetime of healthy habits.

It’s not too early to start thinking about the next school year!
Spring and summertime is when you should schedule your child’s back-to-school and sports physicals. The State Department of Public Instruction sets the wellness exam requirements for school-age children, starting at the 4K level. At this type of well-child visit, your child’s physician will record your child’s height, weight, and blood pressure, and conduct a physical exam and vision test. If your child is due for any vaccinations, WIAA sports physicals, or other age-appropriate developmental screening questionnaires, those tests will take place as well. Your child’s back-to-school exam is also the perfect time to discuss any other health and wellness concerns with your child’s doctor.
   For more information about family wellness with Fort HealthCare, visit

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