SOMC Rehab: Learn About Stroke Before It Strikes

The staff of Southern Ohio Medical Center encourages community members to learn about the risk of stroke before it strikes.

“The longer it takes to receive medical treatment during a stroke, the more brain damage a person tends to have,” Regina Keller, nurse manager of Inpatient Rehab at SOMC, said. “That’s why it’s so important to act immediately and call 911 if you think you may be dealing with any symptom associated with stroke.”

A stroke is a sudden interruption in the blood supply of the brain, caused by blocked arteries or broken blood vessels. This causes brains cells to die, leading to brain damage and the loss of speech, movement and/or memory.

Warning symptoms include a numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; trouble speaking or confusion and lack of understanding; trouble seeing in one or both eyes; trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance and coordination; and severe headache with no known cause.

“Fewer than one in five people can recognize the warning signs that suggest a stroke is about to occur,” Keller said. “Most of the patients we treat have no idea that what was happening to them was out of the ordinary until it was too late.”

Stroke can occur due to any number of factors including age, gender and a previous family history of the disease. High blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate and diabetes also increase the likelihood of experiencing a stroke.

In the case of 58-year-old Glenda Powell, even months after her Jan. 10 battle with the disease, she’s still not aware of the symptoms she suffered prior to her attack.

“She was working at the VA Clinic in Chillicothe when it happened,” Amy Powell, Glenda’s daughter and Inpatient Rehab nurse at SOMC, said. “Some of the staff found her lying on the floor by the stairs and immediately called to get help.”

After rushing Glenda to the hospital, it was determined that she had suffered from a hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel bursts inside the brain. This releases blood, damaging nearby tissue and causing a severe amount of damage.

Powell says she was told her mother may never wake up, let alone walk or talk again. But after months of inpatient rehab and strength training exercises at SOMC, Glenda has regained her ability to speak and move and will be going home at the end of this month.

“She can’t walk on her own, but she’s definitely capable of talking, eating and all the things they thought she’d never do again,” Powell said. “Things may never be as perfect as they were before the stroke, but we’re hopeful that with patience and practice, it’ll continue to get there.”

Belinda Diles, unit program director of Inpatient Rehab at SOMC, says the inpatient rehab staff also has set personal goals to continue the stroke education and training they have been receiving over the past year.

“We want to provide our patients with the resources they need after suffering a stroke,” Diles said. “In learning more about stroke awareness, we hope to further the quality care we provide to our patients, as well as our path to becoming the leading provider of stroke rehabilitation services in our area.” For more information on stroke awareness, visit

Schoettle Receives Notre Dame Student’s Artwork For New Office

Pediatrician Dr. Rebecca Schoettle (left) recently accepted a donated piece of artwork from Notre Dame High School Junior Kyla Curnutte (right) and Notre Dame Art Instructor Anissa Harr, to help decorate her office. Dr. Schoettle relocated to Suite 201, Medical Office Building C on the SOMC Main Campus, and had to leave behind several wall murals in her former office that were created by other students in Harr’s earlier Notre Dame classes. Harr plans to have students work on additional artwork for Dr. Schoettle’s office in the coming school year.

Local Runners Support Steven’s Hope Fund

Ten of the local runners who participated in the Flying Pig Marathon May 6 in Cincinnati comprised a “Team Steven” group, raising funds for the Steven’s Hope Fund. The fund was established in honor of the late Steven Hunter, a Portsmouth native committed to community service, civic duty and a strong faith. The runners collectively raised more than $11,000 for the fund established by his parents, Mark and Virgie Hunter. The fund will be used to establish a perpetual fund for the benefit of students who attend Portsmouth High School and have financial needs. For more information including a donation form, visit Shown at the marathon are runners (from left) Tim Cyrus, Mark Hunter, Mike Gampp, Greg Malone, Rick Clark, Jon Clark, Samantha Austin and Mark Austin (not pictured, runners Rue Sanders and Jennifer Hatcher).

Coterie Officers Elected

The Coterie Guild has announced officers for the coming year. The voluntary group works to support the Pediatrics Department of Southern Ohio Medical Center through fund-raising activities. Shown are (back row, l-r): Bobbi Sammons, publicist; Lanita Warner, corresponding secretary; Brande Charles, treasurer; Jackie Weber-Johnson, recording secretary; Danielle Brooks, Coterie Cooks chair; Julie Sanders-Johnson, co-president; front (l-r): Kelly Carter, vice-president; Jaime Madden, second vice-president; Jill Preston, co-president.

Genetic Testing For Skin Cancer Available at SOMC

Like some cancers, family history plays a part in risk for skin cancer. Li-Fen Chang L. Chang, MD, PhD, FACRO, Senior Medical Director for Radiation Oncology at Southern Ohio Medical Center, says everyone should be aware that family history is very important in determining risk for developing certain skin cancers.

“By accurately identifying a genetic predisposition for skin cancer it is possible to take steps to reduce the risk, detect it at an early stage and possibly prevent it,” Dr. Chang says. The number of melanoma cases diagnosed in the United States has risen annually, with more than 54,000 new cases diagnosed each year, and according to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, comprising nearly half of all cancers diagnosed.

Genetic testing for skin cancer is available at the SOMC Cancer Center. For more information on the process call Heather Ashley, 356-7490.

“Like all cancers, early detection is critical,” Dr. Chang explains. “When diagnosed at a localized stage, most cutaneous melanomas can be cured through surgical excision. However, once the tumor has metastasized the prognosis is poor.”

Approximately 10 percent of all melanoma cases are hereditary, approximately the same percentage of breast cancer that is hereditary. A gene known as p16 accounts for the majority of known genetic causes of inherited melanoma cases.

Some important facts from recent studies: individuals who carry inherited p16 mutations are at a 50 percent risk to develop melanoma by age 50 and a 76 percent risk to develop melanoma by age 80. In addition, some p16 mutation carriers have up to a 17 percent risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Melanoma associated with inherited p16 mutations develops at a significantly early age compared to the general population. The average age of diagnosis for mutation carriers in the United States is approximately 35 years compared to 57 years for sporadic melanoma patients.

Anyone to whom one of the following applies should consider a genetic evaluation by their doctor or specialist: two or more diagnoses of primary melanoma in an individual or family; melanoma and pancreatic cancer in an individual or family; or relatives of a patient with a confirmed p16 inherited mutation.

Also, anyone at greater risk should have a clinical examination each year, beginning at age 10; limit exposure to the sun or ultraviolet radiation (such as in some tanning beds); wear protective clothing outside and use a sun screen of at least SPF 15.

SOMC Helps Area Native On Lance Armstrong Running Team

Chad Thompson with SOMC Cancer Center staff

Staff of the SOMC Cancer Center recently presented Chad Thompson with a donation of $2,000 toward his charity run in the ING New York City Marathon. The event will take place Nov. 4, 2007.

Thompson, a Wheelersburg native, was chosen by the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) in March as one of eight participants worldwide to run as a representative of the organization.

“I originally visited the LAF web site to learn more about purchasing the yellow wristbands for cancer awareness,” Thompson said. “But then I saw the page encouraging people to sign-up to be charity runners, so I did.”

The LAF was founded in 1997 by cancer survivor and champion cyclist, Lance Armstrong, and inspires and empowers people living with cancer. This year, the LAF has teamed with the World Marathon Majors to grant limited charity spots to athletes who would like to participate in the elite races to raise money to fight cancer.

Thompson says he never expected to actually be chosen as a runner for the organization, but is honored to be picked from so many entries. He is dedicating his run to his father, as well as other close family and friends who have recently been diagnosed with cancer.

“My goal in completing this marathon is to make all of those currently battling cancer, who have lost a loved one to cancer and who have donated on my behalf, proud,” Thompson said. “It is a tremendous honor to be chosen to represent such a large organization and to run on behalf of so many people.”

As a runner in the LAF Livestrong Army, Thompson must raise a minimum of $3,500 to be eligible to compete in the race, but says he has upped his goal to $10,000 to challenge himself even further.

“Knowing that I’m running in memory of so many people is already motivational, but to raise that much money would be even better,” Thompson said. “The race might be 26-miles long, and I know I’ll be hurting and struggling through it, but when I think of what all those battling cancer have gone through, it makes it even more encouraging to finish.”

For more information on LAF, or to donate toward Thompson’s fund, visit Credit cards are acceptable and all donations are tax deductible. To make a donation by check, please send an e-mail to

Portsmouth Eagles Support SOMC Hospice

SOMC Hospice recently accepted the first installment of a donation from the Portsmouth Eagles Aerie 4285, who selected Hospice as their charity for the year. The first installment of more than $6,000 was presented by Eagle Arnie Smith (left) to Sheila Riggs of Hospice. The SOMC Hospice Center is now open on the East Campus of Southern Ohio Medical Center, providing services and support for the terminally ill and their loved ones.

Lawson Breast Health Navigator

Kelly Lawson, RN

Kelly Lawson, RN, has accepted the position of Breast Health Navigator at the SOMC Cancer Center. Lawson will be the primary nurse contact for breast cancer patients, helping to bridge the gap between the physical aspects of breast cancer and the immediate needs throughout diagnosis, surgery and treatment. She also will be the coordinator of care to uninsured and underserved women throughout the community.

The Breast Health Navigator Service is funded in part by a grant from the Columbus Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

A Portsmouth native, Lawson is a graduate of Shawnee State University. She has been a part of the nursing staff at Southern Ohio Medical Center since 1990 and has served the last five years in Radiation Oncology at the SOMC Cancer Center.

Hospice Hikers Raise $36,000

SOMC Hospice patient Elizabeth Braden, 103, joins the Hospice Center’s resident, Swann, in meeting participants in the May 19 Hike for Hospice. During the event, 20 teams and individuals totaling 547 registered hikers raised more than $36,000 for hospice programs for the terminally ill.