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Healthy and Wise 

Fourth Annual Wellness Expo covers the bases for living well.

In a perfect world, people would be born with an innate knowledge of how to keep their physical, mental and spiritual bodies in fine-tuned harmony. In our less-than-perfect world, however, tracking down what you need to know about health and well-being can be laborious, confusing and, oftentimes, the quest is abandoned in frustration. Although it's not quite Disney World, the Fourth Annual Gambit Weekly Wellness Expo at Lakeside Shopping Center (3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie) this weekend is a wonderland of health screenings, information, demonstrations and products that can make you look and feel better.

Ochsner Clinic Foundation, WDSU-TV and Gambit Weekly are sponsoring the free Wellness Expo, which is scheduled Saturday and Sunday (June 8 and 9) inside the mall. In the four years since it began, the expo has expanded from one day and a dozen exhibitors to a two-day event with dozens of health care organizations and businesses setting up booths to dispense information.

Whether you're looking for an insole that will cushion aching feet, like the glycerin gel-filled type marketed by Hydropedes, or advice about how to eliminate pain, you'll find professionals with the answers. The expo also features a plethora of demonstrations ranging from the hip-hop aerobics used at the Urban Funk Factory to the cooking techniques of local chefs from Rene's Bistro, Whole Foods and Andrea's. In addition, expo visitors can register at the Gambit Weekly booth for a host of prizes.

Ochsner Clinic Foundation covers a field of health care bases with representatives from its main clinic as well as its new Asthma Center, its blood bank, Heart and Vascular Institute and children's clinic. Ochsner professionals will offer free pediatric vision screenings, stroke risk assessments, blood pressure screenings, memory skills tests and asthma screenings. Those who have trouble sleeping should stop by the Touro Sleep Disorders Laboratory booth, where professionals can discuss diagnosis and treatment options for insomnia, apnea, snoring and other disorders that keep you up at night. Another traditional health care exhibitor, Westside Orthopaedic Clinic, can answer questions about bone health and surgical techniques, including joint replacement, arthroscopy and laser surgery as well as repairing sports injuries. Oral health will be addressed by Lacoste Gentle Dental, a full-service practice housed at Lakeside Shopping Center.

Changes in the health care system and advances in knowledge and technology have made Americans increasingly aware of health issues and more determined to find ways to look and feel better longer. This change in attitude and demands for an array of accessible health care options has been instrumental in brining less traditional therapies into the mainstream. American Back Institute, for example, has combined medical and chiropractic therapies to help patients overcome back pain, optimizing results by using treatments ranging from Vax-D to prolotherapy as well as special nutrition programs.

Exhibitor Cupp Chiropractic Clinic combines its namesake adjustment therapies with nutrition counseling, vitamins and homeopathy to help patients achieve whole-body wellness, and McNeil Specific Chiropractic can discuss its use of an innovative computerized digital posture analysis in diagnosing and treating patients. That clinic also will perform a chiropractic demonstration for expo participants. Rehabilitating bones, joints and muscles also is a focus at Crescent City Medical Rehab, which specializes in total spine care. Lakeside Hospital's Sports Medicine Center provides a full range of diagnostic and treatment options for broken bones, soft-tissue and muscle damage, dislocations and other injuries. It also has board-certified orthopedic surgeons who can help with those problems as well as complete hip and knee replacements, carpal tunnel syndrome and more.

The Wellness Expo also zeros in on what covers all those bones and muscles, with a wealth of professionals who specialize in skin care and beauty. At Southern Aesthetics, Dr. Penelope Treece and aesthetician Tami Piazza offer a wide variety of products and services to improve the way you look. Medical skin rejuvenation facials, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, liposuction, breast surgery and abdominoplasty are among the offerings that can enhance beauty from head to toe. A full range of cosmetic surgery and skin-care therapies are available through Kenner Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Centers, which also performs tattoo removals and offers Letti Lynn makeup and skin care products.

Paris Parker Salon Spas can advise visitors on a range of beauty and wellness offerings -- from haircuts to reflexology -- aimed at improving both appearance and spirit as well as the natural Aveda products designed for those purposes. Also focusing on beauty is Sylvain Distributors, which carries a variety of health and beauty products, including TendSkin, a product developed for ingrown hairs and irritation caused by shaving, electrolysis and more.

The Laser Vision Institute will tell prospective patients how to discard once-necessary eyeglasses and contacts through LASIK refractive surgery to reshape the eyeball.

There's even an exhibit dealing with vices and bad habits. Positive Changes Hypnosis Center uses its namesake technique to help patients quit smoking, lose weight and control stress.

Stress and weight control as well as physical fitness also are covered by exhibitors who will show participants how to make exercise fun. World Academy of Martial Arts offers tae kwon do, yoga, tai chi and kickboxing classes as well as sessions dealing with weight control and smoking cessation. Yonsei Martial Arts Academy also reaches beyond kicks and exercises to teach self-improvement, self-esteem and positive values. Combining physical fitness and overall well-being also is the goal of Lifestart at Lakeway Athletic Club, which provides fitness programs and health profiles.

Pet lovers can chat with the professionals at Southeast Veterinary Specialists, where Drs. Rose and Stephen Lemarie take referrals from veterinarians for pets that need specialized treatment. The clinic offers a full range of care, including surgery, dermatology and rehabilitation after injury or surgery.

Mental health services for children and their families are the realm of Mercy Family Center in Metairie, where the medical staff conducts diagnostic testing for a range of problems including autism and attention deficit and helps teach adults parenting skills that can aid their children's development. For those who have medical or support needs in the home, there are several expo exhibitors that fit the bill. The Nurses Registry specializes in home health care with nurses, social workers, therapists and other professionals available to take care of all kinds of needs, as does Southern Quality Home Health Care Inc. of Marrero. Patio Drugs Healthcare Network can provide medical equipment to be used in home care as well as operating a full-service pharmacy.

To help develop new therapies, research companies such as Drug Research Services Inc. and New Orleans Center for Clinical Research conduct clinical trials to determine whether new drugs and therapies should make it onto the market. New Orleans Center for Clinical Research will offer expo visitors free blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol screenings.

There also will be an exhibit staffed by the Southern Eye Bank, which helps ophthalmic surgeons obtain donated eyes and corneal tissues needed to improve patients' vision.

Pure, clean water also takes a front seat at the Fourth Annual Wellness Expo, with Kentwood Spring Water showing off its Louisiana spring water as well as its water purification and coffee service systems. Water from a different source -- Martinique -- is the specialty at Kenner's Sunshine Water Import Ltd., and purifying the water in your own home is the realm of Gray and Associates, which distributes Ecoquest purification systems for both water and air as well as vitamins and other health products.

Stephanie Wooldridge Nee also takes a natural approach to health and beauty with Tahitian Noni juice, which she says not only increases energy but can bolster other body systems. She also sells herbal extracts, vitamins and skin products. Those seeking alternative approaches to better circulation, increased energy and relaxed muscles may want to observe or participate in a free demonstration of the Chi Machine, a therapeutic massager reputed to give beneficial therapeutic effects in about five minutes.

It's not all about nurturing the physical body and treating health problems, however. Participants at the Wellness Expo also will offer products and services that are not strictly medical. Verizon Wireless and Sun Com have communications covered, while Bentley's Travelware provides the leather goods needed for a rejuvenating vacation. Buttercups has gourmet items and other gifts, Q-Knows Inc. provides vitamin-rich skin care products, and Southern-Heritage has a sugar-free, high-fiber cookie that tastes great.

You can take a load off your feet, or at least make that load more comfortable, at the Easy Spirit Shoes booth, and Victoria's Secret will be on hand to make sure women know how to properly fit a bra or select lovely lingerie. If you're planning nuptials, Zales Jewelers can help with wedding bands (as well as a range of other jewelry), then look to Welliver Video Weddings to chronicle the event. And don't forget to pick up a stay-fresh container from Tupperware to store the left-over wedding cake.

To help with financial health, ASI Federal Credit Union professionals will be at the expo to answer questions about a host of financial instruments as well as helping consumers fill out applications for banking services or loans. State Farm Insurance also will be on hand to discuss how consumers can protect their futures with health insurance, long-term care insurance and Medicare supplements.

With such a range of providers offering information and services, consumers may want to stop by the Wellness Expo both days to make sure they take advantage of all the offerings.

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