November 25, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving 2013

Image: A vintage patriotic Thanksgiving Greeting Card

As we celebrate our liberties, freedoms, and the many things we have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, we remember and support those who have protected them.  WBRC would like to thank all veterans this Thanksgiving for your service.  Have a happy and safe holiday.

The WBRC will be closed for business on Thursday November 28th, 2013 in observance of Thanksgiving.

The RN Station may be reached by calling:
(650) 493-500
then select 1, then 2, then enter 24623 -or- 24823

You may also leave a message at the WBRC Direct Line at:
(650) 614-9952

November 12, 2013

November Construction Update for New Building

Photo: The front of B-500 begins to get siding installed (right)
Image: Rendering of the front of B-500 when completed

Construction crews of the new Polytrauma and Blind Rehabilitation Center (B-500) are beginning to install the insulation on the exterior of the building.  The new center will overlap the original WBRC footprint on the Palo Alto VAPAHCS campus.  This will be the VA's first and only Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center to be combined with a Blind Rehabilitation Center. 

Photo: B-500 lobby under construction with staircase installed
Image: Rendering of B-500 lobby from 2nd level (staircase landing at right)

At 174,000 square feet, this new facility is the largest consolidated rehabilitation center in the VA and will include 24 beds for the polytrauma program, 32 beds for the blind rehabilitation program, and 12 beds for the polytrauma transitional rehabilitation program.  The center will also have an outpatient physical therapy/occupational therapy clinic, an outpatient physical medicine and rehabilitation clinic, and clinical programs for Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom Veterans.

Construction is anticipated to complete in late 2014 with the building becoming operational in January 2015. 

CLICK HERE to view additional construction pictures

CLICK HERE for construction updates

CLICK HERE to read the project's news release

November 8, 2013

Veterans Day 2013

Photo: Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France, wait for the end of hostilities.  This photo was taken at 10:58 am, on November 11, 1981, two minutes before the armistice ending World War I went into effect.  Photograph via the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs Website.

November 11, or what has come to be known as Veterans Day, was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor Armistice Day (the end of WWI), which officially took place on November 11, 1989.  November 11 became recognized as Armistice Day in 1938 when legislature was passed to dedicate the day 'to the cause of world peace'.  As such the new holiday honored World War I veterans.

In 1954, after World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress amended the Act of 1938, at the urging of veterans service organizations, by replacing 'Armistice' with 'Veterans'.  This amendment was approved on June 1, 1954 making November 11 a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

Veterans day continues to be observed on November 11 every year, on whichever day it falls in the week.  It continues to mark the important date of the end of WWI and also has become a celebration to honor veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

The staff of the Western Blind Rehabilitation Center would like to take this opportunity to extend a proud 'Thank You' to the men and women of our country that have served and are serving in our armed forces.  We all enjoy the freedoms we have today due to your service.  

CLICK HERE to learn more about the History of Veterans Day 

The WBRC will be closed for business on Monday November 11th, 2013 in observance of Veterans Day.

The RN Station may be reached by calling:
(650) 493-500
then select 1, then 2, then enter 24623 -or- 24823

You may also leave a message at the WBRC Direct Line at:
(650) 614-9952

November 4, 2013

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month.  Diabetes is a group of diseases marked by high levels of blood glucose resulting from defects in insulin production, insulin action, or both. Diabetes can lead to serious complications and premature death, but people with diabetes can take steps to control the disease and lower the risk of complications.  25.8 million Americans have diabetes — 8.3 percent of the U.S. population. Of these, 7 million do not know they have the disease.  In 2010, about 1.9 million people ages 20 or older were diagnosed with diabetes.*

Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of eye problems that people with diabetes may face as a complication of diabetes. All can cause severe vision loss or even blindness.  Diabetic eye disease may include:

  • Diabetic Retinopathy—damage to the blood vessels in the retina.
  • Cataract—clouding of the eye's lens. Cataracts develop at an earlier age in people with diabetes.
  • Glaucoma—increase in fluid pressure inside the eye that leads to optic nerve damage and loss of vision. A person with diabetes is nearly twice as likely to get glaucoma as other adults. 

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina.  In some people with diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels may swell and leak fluid. In other people, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. A healthy retina is necessary for good vision.  If you have diabetic retinopathy, at first you may not notice changes to your vision. But over time, diabetic retinopathy can get worse and cause vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes.
Photo: Two boys playing as seen by someone with unaffected vision

Photo: The same image as seen by someone with Diabetic Retinopathy
Blood vessels damaged from diabetic retinopathy can cause vision loss in two ways:

  1. Fragile, abnormal blood vessels can develop and leak blood into the center of the eye, blurring vision. This is proliferative retinopathy and is the fourth and most advanced stage of the disease.
  2. Fluid can leak into the center of the macula, the part of the eye where sharp, straight-ahead vision occurs. The fluid makes the macula swell, blurring vision. This condition is called macular edema. It can occur at any stage of diabetic retinopathy, although it is more likely to occur as the disease progresses. About half of the people with proliferative retinopathy also have macular edema. 
All people with diabetes--both type 1 and type 2--are at risk to develop diabetic retinopathy. That's why everyone with diabetes should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. The longer someone has diabetes, the more likely he or she will get diabetic retinopathy. Between 40 to 45 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some stage of diabetic retinopathy. If you have diabetic retinopathy, your doctor can recommend treatment to help prevent its progression.

If you have diabetes get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year and remember:

  • Proliferative retinopathy can develop without symptoms. At this advanced stage, you are at high risk for vision loss.
  • Macular edema can develop without symptoms at any of the four stages of diabetic retinopathy.
  • You can develop both proliferative retinopathy and macular edema and still see fine. However, you are at high risk for vision loss.
  • Your eye care professional can tell if you have macular edema or any stage of diabetic retinopathy. Whether or not you have symptoms, early detection and timely treatment can prevent vision loss.
If you have diabetic retinopathy, you may need an eye exam more often. People with proliferative retinopathy can reduce their risk of blindness by 95 percent with timely treatment and appropriate follow-up care.  The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) showed that better control of blood sugar levels slows the onset and progression of retinopathy. The people with diabetes who kept their blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible also had much less kidney and nerve disease.  This level of blood sugar control may not be best for everyone, including some elderly patients, children under age 13, or people with heart disease. Be sure to ask your doctor if such a control program is right for you.  Other studies have shown that controlling elevated blood pressure and cholesterol can reduce the risk of vision loss. Controlling these will help your overall health as well as help protect your vision.**

*Information gathered from the National Diabetes Education Program
CLICK HERE to read the Diabetes Snapshot from the National Diabetes Education Program
**Information gathered from the National Eye Institute
CLICK HERE to learn more about Diabetic Retinopathy from the National Eye Institute