The Specialists.

Author:LEWERS, CHRISTINE
 
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Indiana clinics focus on medical specialties.

It's not unusual for patients who come to St. Joseph Hospital's Sleep Disorder Center in Fort Wayne to be skeptical at first.

"We come across so many patients who think it's not necessary to come here," says Annette Zimmerman, clinical coordinator at the center. "Their attitude is either you sleep or you don't sleep."

That attitude often changes after treatment, Zimmerman says, pointing to the center's 98 percent patient-satisfaction rate. The lab diagnoses and treats more than 90 sleep problems ranging from narcolepsy to sleep apnea to REM disorders.

Most sleep problems, including snoring, are treatable and often symptoms of an underlying health problems, says Zimmerman, which is why patients, family doctors and insurance companies have all contributed to a heightened demand for sleep labs in recent years. "Most sleep labs are scheduled way out," she says.

Throughout the state, medical specialists ranging from sleep labs to wound-healing centers are seeing more demand for their services. "The increase in medical knowledge only increases the demand for specialties because it is the only way for physicians to provide the best and the latest," says Dr. James B. Steichen, president of The Indiana Hand Center in Indianapolis.

The center provides for the diagnosis, treatment, surgical repair and rehabilitation of patients with injuries or medical problems involving their upper extremities. This includes problems occurring from their fingertips to their shoulders.

Steichen says the number of patients coming to the center is increasing for many reasons. Among them: an aging population and the health problems that come along with getting older, such as arthritis. In addition, the number of workplace conditions associated with repetitive use, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, is also on the rise.

Although The Indiana Hand Center is a private medical practice, it plays a role in training surgeons from throughout the world who come to the center as fellows, says Steichen.

Not only do the center's nine surgeons perform about 5,500 operations annually, they are also involved in developing some of the latest techniques and equipment used in hand and microvascular surgery. The center's therapists are also highly trained specialists who publish manuals describing the latest treatment protocols.

In addition to cutting-edge treatments, The Indiana Hand Center stresses prevention through tips it provides workers and...

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