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Lifestyle medicine is an evidence-based approach to treating chronic conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or even orthopedic issues like chronic back pain, by making changes in lifestyle with the guidance of a physician.
And at UM Orthopaedics, it is a team effort. Doctor and patient work together to understand how everyday habits and behavior patterns affect health and wellness and then work toward positive changes.
They use the six pillars of lifestyle medicine — whole-food, plant-based diet, avoiding of risky substances, physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management and positive social connections — as a roadmap.
Dr. Claudia Dal Molin, DO, RMSK combines her internal medicine and sports medicine training in the Well on Your Way lifestyle medicine program. Through a series of 30-minute virtual visits, she coaches her patients on how to make healthy living part of their daily life, one step at a time.
How the Program Works
At the first visit, she explains the program so that people can decide if it’s a good fit for them. Patients commit to meet on a schedule, usually biweekly. Then, she takes a full health history and reviews labs and medications before coming up with an individualized plan.
Early on, the program uses physical therapy as a bridge to safe, regular exercise. This reduces the risk of injury and builds an understanding of how the body works.
Because lifestyle medicine is a physician-led program, most insurance companies will cover these visits.
What Patients Learn From Lifestyle Medicine
During their visits, Dr. Dal Molin considers different aspects of the patient's lifestyle, learning about who her patients are and how they live. Through questions and discussion, she works on pinpointing the areas that need attention.
In much the same way as a sports coach would, Dr. Dal Molin fills gaps in knowledge and then helps patients apply and practice new skills in their everyday life until they get more comfortable with them.
The goal is to learn and master the skills of healthy living before moving on to the next area. In this way, the pace is matched to each patient.
The areas of lifestyle that are reviewed include:
- Motivation, mindset and goals
- Support system
- Behavior patterns and organizational skills