Guest: Deborah Ann Ballard, MD, MPH
Guest Bio: Deborah Ann Ballard, MD, MPH is a board certified internist whose 22 years in medicine spans primary care, endocrinology, clinical research, and prevention and wellness. Dr. Ballard received her medical degree from the University of Louisville and completed her residency in Internal Medicine there. She received her Master of Public Health degree from the University of Kentucky. In November 2013, Dr. Ballard achieved board certification from the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine. She is a certified Tai Chi for Arthritis instructor. Dr. Ballard joined KentuckyOne Health in June 2013. She is currently practicing at KentuckyOne Health’s Healthy Lifestyle Centers. She is providing integrative medicine consultations and focusing on prevention and wellness initiatives across KentuckyOne Health and its service area.
Dr. Deborah Ballard discusses how her practice helps patients to “manage” a Healthy Lifestyle.
Health Professional Radio
Neal Howard: Hello you’re listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard, so glad that you could join us today. Our guest in studio today is Dr. Deborah Ann Ballard, board certified internist whose 22 years in medicine spans primary care, endocrinology, clinical research and prevention and wellness. She’s also certified in Tai Chi for arthritis as well as integrative holistic medicine. She joined KentuckyOne Health in June of 2013 and is currently KentuckyOne Health’s Healthy Lifestyle Centers. How are you doing today doctor?
Dr. Debora Ann Ballard: I’m fine.
N: Great. You are board certified by the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine as a practitioner in Holistic Medicine as well as Tai Chi for arthritis. As a practitioner of traditional western medicine, you’re also versed in these well non-traditional modalities as well. Could you talk a little bit about Tai Chi as one of your avenues of healing?
B: Sure. Well actually I am certified by the Arthritis Foundation.
N: Oh okay…
B: To teach Tai Chi for arthritis.
B: But the thing is Tai Chi is an ancient martial arts. It has been around for thousands of years, they originated their philosophy in China and the underlying principles for Tai Chi are about balance. And Tai Chi has been found to be a form of activity which provides moving meditation so a person hopes to get improvement in their strength, their balance it’s very common and it happens … to be a very effective treatment for osteoarthritis of the Knee which is why the Arthritis Foundation is so supportive of it and it’s also been found to have good clinical application in Parkinson’s disease and other problems like Fibromyalgia which is a chronic painful condition. So Tai Chi is a series of very gentle rhythmic choreographed movements and in order to perform it, you have to empty your mind and focused on the activity. So that’s where the meditation and the relaxation comes in and then the movement themselves help improve one’s balance and strength so I love doing Tai Chi. I find it to be incredibly relaxing and it is also a great way to help relieve certain painful conditions.
N: Now you received a medical degree in Kentucky in the United States. Tell us a little bit about your medical training before you were certified in Tai Chi.
B: Okay. So I went to the University of Louisville of Medicine and also completed a residency there in internal medicine. And I was trained very much in traditional western medicine and I valued traditional western medicine a great deal because sometimes it is almost miraculous in terms of what we can do. I mean we can do some pretty fantastic things in medicine. However what in my particular specialty of internal medicine, what I mostly see are people are suffering from lifestyle created illness. And so this in order to make people well, traditional western medicine does not have the answers to those questions. It requires a lot of change in lifestyle. And so when we look into integrated medicine, integrated medicine treats the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. And that is really necessary for people to embrace lifestyle change. And it is very difficult to change your behavior when you’re under a lot of stress, it’s also very difficult to change your behavior when you have no social support, and you don’t have any support system to do that. So we help people develop plans and give them tools and techniques that will help them actually be able to change to a healthy diet and develop an exercise program and develop some sort of stress reduction practices. So this is where the integrative technique such as Tai Chi, Yoga, Acupuncture are the most effective, are in just being able to promote behavior change.
N: Now in your role at KentuckyOne Health’s Healthy Lifestyle Center are this some of the practices in addition to traditional life healthy lifestyle practices, are these some things that are suggested?
B: Oh yes. We have a people who provide Acupuncture Therapy, we have a Tai Chi instructor, we have a Yoga instructor, we have a Massage Therapist, we have a person who teaches Mindfulness Meditation, and we also have Nutritionist, Exercise, Physiologists and Health Coaches. So we have a full complement of people who can help with all the various aspects of changing one’s behavior.
N: Great. For someone who’s been practicing an unhealthy lifestyle, for the better part of their life and for whatever reason. Maybe they went go into illness or their trying to recover or something, they’ve embarked on this healthy lifestyle. There’s gonna be some huge changes – changes with the diet, changes with the environment, changes with the exercise. I guess that’s a management of this new lifestyle, as far as lifestyle management goes. Do you offer assistance when a person becomes overwhelmed trying to better their health situation?
B: Oh yes, absolutely. We have a lifestyle medicine program. And again the whole goal here is to help the patient not only know what they need to do but to be able to put that knowledge into practice. So there are a number of different techniques such as motivational interviewing, learning how to use self-monitoring tools, learning how to engage in goal setting – all of these things are techniques which can help a person change their lifestyle.
N: Now as we wrap up this segment, I’d like to ask you as a practitioner of both traditional western medicine and these less than traditional techniques that we’ve been talking about, even though they’re both administered on an equal basis in your center – what type of reception did you receive early on or before you were with KentuckyOne Health? Was there an embracing of these holistic techniques or was there more of a rejection or was it a mixture of the two as far as how people viewed your work?
B: Well integrative medicine is a developing specialty and the thing is in the past, integrative medicine has been called complementary and alternative medicine. And so what we really start to do here is just practice goodness.
B: Fortunately, the way that we can know what goodness … is being helped by some of the most prestigious medical centers here in the United States that now have formed that can source of academic health center for integrated medicine…
B: And these are engaged in very serious research on which technique work best and how we should apply them. So we are gaining more and more knowledge that helps us know what is the right setting for acupuncture? Who is the best candidate to do mindfulness or stress reduction? Who would be best treated with Yoga? What do we know about certain herbal therapy that can help us? So the thing is we now have a lot more thru scientific research to help sort out how to apply these techniques. And I think that’s what is incredibly exciting, our centers will be engaging in research so that we can continually make the services that we offer better. And when we say to people who come to us seeking help, we can say “Well in your particular situation, it has been studied and it has been shown to be helpful.” And so that people know that there is some real help to be expected from it and it’s just very exciting new specialty in medicine and I find it incredibly exciting to be part of it and to get to do research in this area.
N: Great. You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard. It’s been an absolute pleasure talking with Dr. Deborah Ann Ballard today in studio, certified internist who’s been practicing in as span as primary care, endocrinology, clinical research and prevention and wellness. She’s a certified practitioner in integrated holistic medicine, also certified by the American Arthritis Foundation as a Tai Chi for arthritis instructor. She got her medical degree from the University of Louisville and completed her residency in Kentucky. She also received her masters of public health degree from the University Of Kentucky so double whammy there with the cards and the catch right doctor?
B: Right (chuckles).
N: It’s been great having you here with us today.
B: Okay, thank you.
N: Transcripts of this program are available at hpr.fm and also at healthprofessionalradio.com.au.