Sunday, May 25, 2014

Post-concussion program helps some patients heal faste - By Michelle Libby

In a week, physical therapists at OA Center for Orthopaedics in Windham, Portland, Saco and Brunswick will roll out a post-concussion therapy developed by staff physical therapist Bob Cochrane of Windham and Dusty Hurd. The program will be used on the 10 to 20 percent of concussed patients who do not get better after three weeks of rest, often still have symptoms like dizziness, sensitivity to light and slower reaction times. 
“It’s a misunderstood realm of medicine,” said Cochrane. “They are not visible with any kind of scan or imaging.” 

Concussions are caused by direct force trauma to the head. Most concussions resolve themselves in seven to 10 days. However there are a small percentage of patients who do not bounce back and need extra help.

According to the CDC, 1.6 to 3.8 million sports-related concussions happen every year. Thirty percent of all concussions are in athletes ages five to 19. There is also an increased incidence rate among high school and college females who play basketball and soccer. 

Dr. Jeffrey Bean sees close to 100 cases a year where a patient has a concussion. Bean, a DO, has a relationship with Windham High School and is the doctor students are referred to when they have a concussion. 

“Windham School system is ahead of the game for diagnosing and helping these kids in school,” Bean said. His focus is on getting the patients healthier. 

The test used at Windham High School is an IMPACT test that measures brain function and can signify cognitive issues rather than vestibular. “It’s a tool, but not the only answer to get back to sports,” he said. Getting a student back to class is more important to Bean. 

More attention has been given to concussions recently. The NFL has created a lot of concern about the severity of concussions. There has been an increase in the diagnosis of concussion recently. Cochrane said that it was because people know what to look for. There’s no more just shaking it off and getting back out on the field. 

“People are more aware of it…what to look for and potential ramifications long term,” said Bean. Bean describes a concussion like micro damage to the brain and it’s cumulative. It doesn’t repair itself.
“It’s a brain injury,” Cochrane stated. “There’s a huge need. I thought I could develop a program to get a lot of people better faster,” he said. 

The program was constructed painstakingly with research and evidence. The methods used to evaluate and treat the individual with this program is what is best to help them, Cochrane said. 

One part of the program deals with vestibular rehabilitation, which is part of the inner ear that communicates with the brain to sense movement. Vestibular talks to the eyes and the brain, but when that is off because of a concussion, it causes dizziness and the patient feels like they’re in a fog.  

The second part of the program is to work with the cervicogenic system (the neck) to help find new pathways to information a patient already knows. The third part is heart rate progression. With the increase in heart rate, symptoms usually increase in this population. Each time they get on a treadmill, they are seeing how long it is before the onset of symptoms. 

When a client first come to OA, they are tested on their saccadic eye movement, are given a full cervical exam and given a treadmill heart rate test. This will give the physical therapists a baseline to work with.
After a concussion, Bean recommends that patients limit the use of computers, the TV, reading, texting and listening to loud music. Anything that stimulates the brain should be avoided. Getting back to school work should be priority one. 

This concussion rehab is done on a case by case basis and all patients are given homework, which will help speed their recovery. 

Cochrane has been experimenting using this program since November, with very good results, he said. “It’s been overwhelmingly positive,” he said. One case he worked with a man who was in a motor vehicle accident and he wasn’t getting better. After two weeks working with Cochrane he was better and he was discharged after three weeks. 

Bean said that all the people they work with will get better, and this will help them get better faster. The program also works to increase and strengthen to cervical spine, which will speed the recovery. 

OA treats concussions and a wide variety of sports related injuries including casting broken bones and fitting athletes to new bicycles. For more about what they offer, visit

Save the date - Summerfest June 21st - By Michelle Libby

Imagine a hot summer day, the sun is shining and everyone has a smile on their face. Music, sumptuous smells and games are on every section of the school grounds. The shrieks of children spinning on a ride and the thrill of seeing your neighbors shaking it to an awesome band, that is what Summerfest is all about. 
Community and celebrating what it means to live in Windham. 

The committee, made up of five individuals, has been working since the beginning of the year to organize everything from the parade to the fireworks and everything in between. 

The parade will be local-centric as well as many local entertainers on the main stage. The early evening entertainment is Montgomery Road and the late evening band is The Band Apollo. The vendor food booths are all run by local non-profits as a part of their yearly fundraising, or businesses who are raising money to donate to an organization. 

The business expo is for local businesses to show off their products and service, according to Kelly Mank, the coordinator of Summerfest. 

It’s not too late to sign up for the parade or the business expo. There are only a few days left to reserve a spot as a food vendor. 

“Come out and support your local community at Windham’s only community-run event,” said Mank.
To sign up or contact the committee, visit or on Facebook.

Photos by Port City Photography

Taking the final step in a long project - By Michelle Libby

Students in Sabrina Nickerson’s fifth grade class raised $450 to help purchase markers for GAR soldiers after fundraising since September.  According to one historian, the GAR was a similar organization to the American Legion or the Veterans of Foreign Wars, but for Civil War veteran. The GAR was discontinued in 1956. 

On Tuesday, the class walked to Arlington Cemetery across the street from their school to replace the rusted GAR markers with new markers that were made in Maine at Auburn Stove in New Gloucester, which poured the bronze and Ken Murch of Falmouth Road did the finish work. The markers were designed by Brian Brigham.

“I’m glad you took part in this project. I’m proud of you,” said American Legion Commander Mel Greenier to Nickerson’s class. “I salute all of you.” 

There were 23 children in the class and 23 graves that received new markers. Each student was responsible for taking down all the information on one grave to bring back to class to research on the Maine Memory Network, a database website with historical information. 

“It was one of the best educational experiences I have ever had with students – a great day!” said Sabrina Nickerson. “I will always remember the looks on their faces, and how they really seemed to listen and appreciate what these men did for their country. I thank them for their cooperation, their hard work, and the reverence they showed by honoring these soldiers with a GAR marker today.”

In attendance to assist the students were Greenier, Vice-Commander Karle Leonard and Peter Morgan, who did most of the research locating the soldiers’ graves. David Manchester, a relative of Civil War Veteran Joseph K. Manchester, was also there for support. 

“All of them were heroes. They fought to preserve the union and make our country more unified,” said Morgan to the students. 

More markers will be placed at Knight Cemetery over Memorial Day weekend by the 3rd Maine Civil War encampment group.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Milfoil in our waters - a presence that can't be ignored - By Michelle Libby

Milfoil is an invasive species of weed that grows in the water and if left untreated chokes and kills the lake it inhabits. 
Raymond Waterways Protective Association (RWPA), a volunteer, non-profit group, is doing its best to stem the spread of milfoil in Raymond. 

In 2000, Maine began to see the spread of milfoil in its lakes and waterways. RWPA, which was once only concerned with the water quality in the region, changed its focus to eradicating the weed. In 2002, the State of Maine began requiring the milfoil sticker to raise money to help with the control of the weed. Approximately $1 million goes into the fund, but according to Ben Severn, vice president of RWPA, RWPA is one of the 26 associations who receive money from this fun, but what they did see was around $6,000, which isn’t enough to do a complete job. Lack of money is hurting the efforts to pull milfoil from lakes like Sebago. RWPA relies heavily on donations from owners of waterfront properties, but still needs more to continue pulling and checking for regrowth. 
In 2009, the Maine Milfoil Initiative gave RWPA $13,000 and said they would give them an additional $10,000 in the next three to four years. 

The first allotment of money went to purchasing the supplies needed to get started with a diver assisted suction harvesting (DASH) boat. Port Harbor Marine donated the boat and the motor and work began clearing milfoil in the Jordan River. 

“We were a bit naive about how much effort and amount of funds you need,” said Severn. “Everybody owns it and nobody owns it.”

Diane and Gary Potvin of Turtle Cove have donated money for RWPA to remove the milfoil in front of their property as well as the rest of the cove. 

“It’s never how much milfoil you pull. What’s important is for the individual land owners, that they can see there’s less milfoil. 

To run a DASH boat, RWPA has to hire at least one diver, but two would be better, a captain, someone on the boat to manage the way the weed comes up and then someone in the water looking for fragments, usually in another smaller boat. It costs between $600 to $1,200 a day to run a DASH boat including MEMIC costs and insurance, said Severn.  

“We now have been struggling,” said Severn. “Jordan River is like a road we have. Instead of potholes and ruts, we have milfoil.” 

RWPA knows that they have made some mistakes in their milfoil collection, but Severn said they have learned from their mistakes and “we are prepared to employ what the Lake Environmental Association (LEA) is very successful at. We’re ready to go.” They are going to use the LEA approach for the whole season this summer, which involves the sucking up of plants, then going back a few weeks later and collecting what was missed. It is recommended that the work is checked three times through the summer.
Milfoil is a business. From Citizen Boat Inspectors (CBI) to DASH boats and someone to organize the work, Severn said that RWPA has hired Jeff Stern to be the program manager for those two aspects of RWPAs mission. 

RWPA would like lake associations to take greater ownership of the lake and put money into the efforts to tame milfoil. RWPA also would like to see an increase of $5 on each milfoil sticker with the money going directly to control the milfoil. 

“It’s a political game, a bit,” said Severn. “We did have an amazing quasi victory this legislative session thanks to Diane Potvin and Mike McClellan spear heading the push to get the State to provide more funding. But, even if we get a significant increase in State via DEP funding for each of the lake associations battling milfoil, there still will be the need to get the private and municipal public sectors stepping up their contributions if we are to be successful in our fight to control milfoil and protect the quality of our recreational and economic environment along what I call the North Windham-Raymond-Casco Sebago Lake 302 corridor.”

Severn estimates that it will take five years to say they have milfoil under control. “We can’t say we have eliminated it. We’re going to have milfoil always,” he said. 

So far Panther Pond, Crescent Lake, Raymond Pond and Thomas Pond do not have milfoil and with proper inspections and maintenance, they will remain free from invasive species. 

For more information on RWPA, visit or to donate, use Paypal or send checks made out to RWPA to PO Box 1243, Raymond, Maine 04071.