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Health Notes for Feb. 13, 2018

Grants help local programs

Life House and CHUM are among Duluth organizations that received grants from the Medica Foundation to help pay for programs and services this year, the charitable nonprofit announced in a news release.

Life House, based in downtown Duluth, provides homeless youths with support, transitional housing and a safe alternative to the streets. It received a $40,000 grant for its mental health and wellness program for homeless and street youth, according to the news release. CHUM, which provides services to homeless and low-income community members, received a $25,000 grant for its program to improve outcomes for children who experience homelessness.

The following organizations each received $5,000 to support health-related programs:

• Damiano of Duluth

• Duluth Lighthouse Center for Vision Loss

• The Hills Youth and Family Services

• Northland Foundation

• Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault

• The Women's Health Center

Medica Foundation is the charitable arm of Medica, the large health services company headquartered in Minneapolis. Its funding priorities include behavioral health, early childhood health and general health improvement, according to the news release.

A cold blast of healing?

Here's something to think about ahead of Saturday's Polar Plunge in Duluth:

Jumping into that frigid water might make your post-surgery pain go away — but there's a big caveat with that claim.

The information comes from the latest version of the online journal BMJ Case Reports and was summarized in a BMJ press release. (BMJ used to stand for British Medical Journal, but now it just means BMJ.)

As suggested by the journal's title, it cites evidence from a case report, not from any sort of clinical study. So don't take this as medical proof, but here's what happened:

A 28-year-old man who had undergone surgery still was experiencing unrelenting pain from that surgery 10 weeks later. Strong painkillers and physiotherapy barely made a dent.

The man previously had been a triathlete, so he decided to go for a cold-water swim, figuring it would at least momentarily be a distraction from the pain.

His swim started with a plunge off of a rocky outcrop. To his surprise, the young man felt no pain while he was in the water — and has felt no pain since.

Given the lack of any alternative explanation other than pure chance, the study's authors suggested that, at least in this case, the cold-water plunge provided instant and lasting pain relief. How it happened isn't clear, they said, although there are possible biological explanations.

More study would be needed to determine if cold-water swimming actually might prove to be a reliable natural remedy for postoperative pain, they wrote.

Workshops, et cetera

• Living well with chronic conditions workshop sponsored by the Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging, 9-11:30 a.m. Wednesdays from March 28 through May 2 at the Westwood Senior Living Community, 925 Kenwood Ave. Register at yourjuniper.org or by calling Katey Fornear, program coordinator, at (218) 529-7531, or email her at kfornear@ardc.org.

• Answers and education regarding health insurance for Medicare beneficiaries and pre-retirees provided by the Senior LinkAge Line by appointment on March 1 at Our Savior's Lutheran Church, 4831 Grand Ave., and on March 14 and 28 at the Missabe Building, 227 W. First St., Suite 103. To schedule an appointment, call the Senior LinkAge Line at (800) 333-2433.

• The Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging is seeking leaders to facilitate falls prevention workshops. "A Matter of Balance" leader training will be from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 13 at the agency's offices, 221 W. First St. The training costs $50. Registration deadline is March 6. "Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance" leader training will be from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 12 and 13 at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Retail Center, 425 W. Superior St. It costs $100, and registration deadline is April 6. Limited scholarships are available. For more information, visit yourjuniper.org or contact Georgia Lane, (218) 529-7525 or glane@ardc.org.

• Essentia Health is offering training for area residents interested in serving as hospice volunteers. The 16-hour course will take place from 4-8 p.m. March 5, 6, 19 and 20 in the Wisconsin and Michigan rooms at Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center, 407 E. Third St. To register or learn more, call Katie Neff Dawson or Kim Ellsworth at (218) 786-4020 or email HospiceDuluthVS@EssentiaHealth.org.

• Free breastfeeding classes will be offered six times this year at Northland Midwifery, Suite 222, 916 Hammond Ave., Superior. The classes are being offered in a partnership with the Women, Infants and Children program of Douglas County. The first class will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. A light meal will be included. People are welcome to show up, or they can RSVP to one of the following numbers: (715) 394-2750 or (608) 485-1198.

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