Friday, March 13, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - YouTube for Medicine

My mom told me yesterday that one of her knees has gotten so bad that it looks like she will need a total knee replacement. My mom, by nature, is an incredibly upbeat, positive person. The tough part about her is that she tends to grossly underplay any serious news when it comes to her health. I know that this type of surgery is very invasive and serious so when my mom said she'd likely be back at work two weeks after the surgery I almost fell off my couch.

I immediately called my friend, Ken, who works in physical therapy and is one of the dearest people in my life. he has an incredible bedside manner and is a wonderfully caring therapist who is also honest and straight-forward. "No way, now how is she going back to work after two weeks." We talked some more about the procedure so I would know what to ask the surgeon when I go with my mother to get a second opinion (and we are getting a second opinion, and a third and a fourth is necessary.) "Oh, and one more thing," Ken said. "Go to YouTube and type in 'total knee replacement' so you understand the procedure. Just don't tell your mom to do that or she'll never get it done."

I followed Ken's advice, of course, and went to YouTube. 729 hits for "total knee replacement". I was able to understand the process in both long and short formats, understand the immediate post-op and recovery process, and have a list of questions to ask the surgeon when my mom and I met him or her. Ten of thousands of people are viewing the health videos I checked.

YouTube is a treasure trove of medical information. "Cancer" yeilded 123,000 videos on YouTube. "Heart attack" - 39,300. "Diabetes" - 20,700. "First aid" - 36,900. I am by no means suggesting that we begin to use YouTube to self-diagnose or diagnose others. When it comes to collecting information about our health, I ere on the side of wanting more than my fair share of information and data. Social media sources like YouTube are changing the way we view our bodies, our health, and our healthcare system. This is serious cause for hope and thanks.

The above image and video on total knee replacement surgery can be found at:

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