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Healthwise Maui

Q: What are the most common types of trauma injuries you see on Maui?

Dr. Arthur Chasen, surgeon, Maui Memorial Medical Center: I’d estimate that out of around 4,500 trauma cases that we see each year, about 700 are severe enough that the patient is admitted to the hospital. Unlike a big city hospital, we don’t see many things like gunshot and stab wounds, so the most common trauma we see is from blunt-type injuries like motor vehicle accidents and falls. Things like wearing a motorcycle helmet and using a child safety seat can make a big difference.

One of the main differences between Maui and places on the Mainland is how much ocean-related trauma we see. That includes everything including “tossed by a wave” patients, who hurt their neck or back; people with propeller injuries from being hit by boats; and the occasional shark encounter. We actually work with people like ocean safety officers and hotels on education and injury prevention.

Q: My dad had a stroke last summer and seemed to be recovering well until a few months later when he began showing signs of depression. I’ve read about post-stroke depression but didn’t realize it could surface so long after his stroke. Is this possible and what can we do to help him cope?

Dr. Cordia Wan, neurologist: Post-stroke depression can set in weeks, months or even years after a stroke and in many cases, like with your dad, it may be unexpected and can interfere with the healing process, both physical or psychological. A stroke can change someone’s life in an instant. A once active, avid tennis player, for example, can suddenly lose the ability to walk without assistance. Someone who loves to read may no longer be able to focus on or comprehend simple sentences. This, along with genetics or other social factors, can trigger depression.

First and foremost, if you suspect a loved one is suffering from post-stroke depression, you should contact his/her health care provider. There are many options for treatment depending on the patient’s health history and stage of recovery. Recommended treatments can include medication and various forms of therapy like mental health and cognitive behavioral health therapy. Additionally, there are some practical management strategies that can be implemented at home to help fight depression. This includes more open communication between the stroke survivor and their family, friends and caregivers, and improved nutrition to include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid and vitamin B, to name a few. Support groups also are highly recommended for those dealing with post-stroke depression and especially their caregivers. Maui Memorial Medical Center offers a monthly Stroke Support Group from 4 to 5 p.m. every third Wednesday. Each meeting focuses on a different topic and guest speakers provide additional expertise on stroke education and prevention. For more information, call (808) 442-5255.

* Physicians, providers and administrative staff who practice at Maui Health System hospitals and clinics answer questions from the public in “Healthwise Maui,” which appears on Thursdays. Maui Health System operates Maui Memorial Medical Center, Maui Memorial Medical Center Outpatient Clinic, Kula Hospital & Clinic and Lana’i Community Hospital and accepts all patients. To submit a question, go to the website at mauihealthsystem.org/contact.