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A newsletter from Ankle & Foot Care Centers.

November 2011 Edition:

Ankle & Foot Care Doctors Lead Shoe Drive for Needy

Podiatric physicians and surgeons with Ankle & Foot Care Centers are again urging holiday shoppers to help the area’s less fortunate by buying and donating new pairs of shoes.

The doctors aim to collect more than 800 pairs of shoes between now and January 6. Shoe collection stations are now in place at each of the group’s 19 Mahoning Valley locations, all of which are accepting new or nearly new shoes. In greatest demand are children’s shoes of all types and casual, all-purpose shoes in adult sizes for both men and women.

“Many families in our own communities are unable to provide decent footwear for themselves or their children,” said Michael Vallas, practice administrator at Ankle & Foot Care Centers.

“Improper footwear is not only a concern to overall foot health, but receiving a new pair of shoes can really be a boost to one’s self-esteem. We’re confident the generous people in our community can help us exceed our goal.”

Since 1998, Ankle & Foot Care Centers has helped local shoppers donate thousands of pairs of shoes to local needy families. Ankle & Foot Care Centers works with the Salvation Army, who in February will distribute the shoes collected this year to individuals throughout Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

Copyright © November 2011 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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Vascular Disease Treatment and Diagnosis Program Earns Accreditation

Vascular Disease Treatment and Diagnosis Program Earns AccreditationAnkle & Foot Care Centers achieved accreditation for its vascular disease diagnostic laboratory.

The accreditation by the Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Vascular Laboratories (ICAVL) followed an assessment and review of every aspect of the laboratory’s daily operations and its impact on the quality of health care to patients. ICAVL accreditation is valid for three years.

“We’re proud of this accreditation,” said Michael Vallas, practice administrator for Ankle & Foot Care Centers. “The review involved a thorough evaluation by an independent organization of our processes, protocols and quality assurance programs. The accreditation confirms that our lab meets or exceeds standards established by a panel of medical societies.”

Copyright © November 2011 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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Doctor's Support Keeps Marathon Runner on Track

Despite a series of setbacks related to her feet, elite marathon runner Sarah Flament of Poland is back on course in her preparation for the U.S. Olympic Trials in Houston in January.

And much of the credit, she says, goes to her podiatric physician, Dr. Greg Blasko of Ankle & Foot Care Centers.

"He has helped me tremendously," said Flament, who qualified for the Olympic Trials by finishing among America's top women in the 2009 Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis.

"He always takes the time, and he always makes sure I do the right things to get back on track as soon as possible."

Qualifying for the Olympic Trials -- literally the tryouts for the U.S. marathon team for the 2012 Olympics in London -- was the fulfillment of a dream for Flament, now 36 and a mother of two. She ran the Twin Cities race in 2 hours, 45 minutes and 58 seconds. Earlier this year, she ran the Boston Marathon in an even faster time - 2:43:37, finishing 11th among American women and 26th among women overall.

But less than two weeks after Boston, she started feeling sharp heel pain, and a severe case of plantar fasciitis started to derail her training. Under Dr. Blasko's care, she kept the pain at bay with cortisone shots, taping, physical therapy and cross training.

Then in July, when Flament was visiting her family in Wisconsin, she experienced sharp pain in her feet while working out. A doctor she visited there told her she had a navicular stress fracture, and ordered her to halt her training. She called Dr. Blasko right away. To be cautious, he called a place in Wisconsin for her to be put in a walking boot and on crutches in order to relieve any pressure on the foot.

Meanwhile, Dr. Blasko didn't give up on Flament's dream to run in the Olympic Trials. He doubted that she had sustained an actual stress fracture, and MRI scans and CT scans confirmed he was right. She had a stress reaction, which is a precursor to a stress fracture, and the non-weight-bearing time with the boot and crutches had allowed that injury to heal. So she was cleared to resume running.

"It was a miraculous moment," Flament recalled. "I asked, 'So I can get myself out of the boot, drop the crutches and walk like normal?' and he said, 'Yes.' I literally went from hobbling to walking within a moment's notice!"

Dr. Blasko "was great through the whole process," Flament said. "He didn't just take the radiologist's word that I had a stress fracture, but he double-checked and was completely thorough. He questions everything. It's a sign of a good doctor that he makes sure the final diagnosis and final treatment are spot-on. It makes you feel like you're of the utmost importance."

After getting back in training in September, another setback occurred when Flament's plantar fasciitis flared up even worse than before. The pain drove her back to Dr. Blasko.

This time, he treated her with low-intensity shockwave therapy, a technique that directs harmless electronic waves at the heel to address plantar fasciitis. Experienced podiatrists use the therapy after more conservative methods don't work.

In Flament's case, the shockwaves were instantly effective.

"After the first treatment, within 24 hours, I was running with 80 to 85 percent less pain," she recalled. "Within two days, it felt like the pain was completely gone. It's so wonderful. I had literally forgotten what it was like to run pain-free. It was like a miracle."

As a result, Flament is running longer in her training sessions. She has a long way to go to regain the condition she enjoyed when she ran in Boston in April. But she also has time -- and a good feeling about her doctor.

"This has been one crazy roller coaster ride and I feel very fortunate to have someone like Dr. Blasko in my corner," she said. "When you truly believe in someone, you want to spread the word as much as possible. I feel really good about what he's done for me. Dr. Blasko never gives up on a patient. His true goal is to see you healthy and he will do everything he can to make that happen."

Elite runner Sarah Flament, a Poland resident, says her recovery from plantar fasciitis was "like a miracle."

Copyright © November 2011 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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From Player to Coach, Dr. Blasko is at Home on the Ice

Despite the high intensity of the sport, Dr. Gregory Blasko finds hockey brings him a certain comfort and release.

Growing up in the village of Poland, where he has made his home with his family, Dr. Blasko always enjoyed watching ice hockey. So much so that he considers himself a lifelong Pittsburgh Penguins fan.

These days, he can add avid player to his repertoire, having taken up the sport about eight years ago. He’s a regular on the ice for games at the Ice Zone in Boardman.

“I figured life isn’t getting any longer,” he said. “I just love the sport.”

Hockey is a great workout, he says, even though there is the potential for broken bones and other injuries. In fact, he’s reluctant to even discuss injuries sustained through the years because “every single player has his share. It is so common in playing hockey. Those pucks can hurt.”

Meet the DocHis love of hockey has caught on with his family. His daughters Avery, 12, and Ellie, 10, both have played, although they now tend to focus more on soccer and swimming. And this fall, Dr. Blasko will take on a new role on the ice when he becomes coach of his 8-year-old son Van’s Mite hockey team. Van has been skating and playing since he was 4.

The surgeon, who has been married to his wife Kara for 15 years, will be carving out time between his podiatry practice, his ice time and family time to make practice plans for his son and the fellow young players.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “It will be good to be involved with the kids. All I care about is that they have fun.”

Dr. Blasko, who graduated from Youngstown State University and the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine in Cleveland, sees patients in the Campbell, Poland and Salem offices.

Dr. Blasko has long enjoyed ice hockey, both as a fan and a player. He continues to play with a men's team and will be entering the coaching ranks to work with his son Van this fall in a youth league.

Copyright © November 2011 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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These Shoes Were Made for Walking (and Running)
Evaluating the Life of Your Athletic Shoes

Evaluating the Life of Your Athletic ShoesJust like milk in your refrigerator and cans in your pantry, your athletic shoes have a specific shelf life. Unfortunately, shoes have no expiration date noted on the bottom. Nevertheless, there are a number of factors that you should consider before sending your shoes “out to pasture.”

How long your athletic shoes will last depends on several factors, including how often you wear them, where you run or walk, how your foot functions, and your workout conditions and mileage. Contrary to popular opinion, however, you cannot always tell whether a shoe is worn out by visual inspection. With the technologies available today, the outer sole can hold up and not show deterioration even after the shock absorption and stability capacities of the shoe are gone.

Wearing old athletic shoes, specifically for running, or wearing the wrong type of shoes for your foot or for a specific sport can lead to injuries. For example, running in a shoe that no longer provides traction, support, and cushioning can lead to a number of musculoskeletal complaints, among them heel pain, shin splints, and stress fractures. A basic rule of thumb for runners is to replace shoes every 300-500 miles. Other factors to consider are:

  • Type of shoe/type of foot: Ask your podiatrist about specific shoes that are best for your foot type. Some shoes are designed to accommodate pronation or supination, and your doctor can give you good reasons to choose one brand over another.
  • Environment: A humid climate can contribute to a shoe’s rapid breakdown because running in a wet shoe will overstretch the upper part of the shoe while over-compressing the lower part.
  • Body type: Your body weight is a big factor in determining which shoe is best for you. In general, the more you weigh, the more cushioning your feet will need to withstand the impact.
  • Usage: The amount you wear your shoe and how many miles you log can also affect the life of your shoe. Runners and walkers can easily track their mileage. Shoes used outside will break down more rapidly than those in the gym.

About half-way through the life of your shoes, buy a second pair to rotate in during workouts. Having a newer pair as a point of reference will also help you identify the feel of shoes that have run their course.

Your feet can last a lifetime, but your shoes are not designed to do the same. Replace worn athletic shoes as often as needed and work with your podiatrist to keep your feet healthy and injury-free.

Copyright © November 2011 American Podiatric Medical Association and Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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From The Kitchen: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

From The KitchenThis month’s recipe comes from The Big Book of Diabetic Desserts, as published on If chocolate and banana is not your favorite combination, use pecans or walnuts in place of the chocolate.

Serves 16; serving size:  1 (1/2-in) slice

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup granular no-calorie sweetener
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 4 medium bananas)
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat an 8 x 4-in loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.  Combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, no-calorie sweetener, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and whisk to mix well.

Combine the banana, applesauce, chocolate chips, oil, buttermilk, egg, and vanilla in a medium bowl and stir to mix well. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until moistened.

Spoon the batter into prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of loaf comes out clean.

Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. The bread can be covered in an airtight container and stored at room temperature up to 3 days.

Copyright © 2007 by Jackie Mills. From The Big Book of Diabetic Desserts.

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