How A Thermal Camera Is Saving Lives In West Chester
When Rita McCormack had her first medical thermography scan, she thought she was supporting a friend. She had no idea that the images taken during her thermogram would reveal information that would save her life.
McCormack was supporting friend Jacky Groenewegen, owner of Mindful Wellness Medical Thermography, when she went in for her scan, thinking it would be easier to refer people to her friend’s West Chester business if she experienced it herself.
“She [Groenewegen] mentioned that there was no radiation, and since I am a very holistic type of person, I thought, ‘This is up my alley,’” McCormack says. “A doctor called me and showed me everything from my report and said that there was a concern in my right breast. I thought it was just scar tissue.”
The area of concern on the thermographic scan turned out to be a small but very aggressive breast cancer. McCormack is now seven months cancer-free after many months of treatment, and she credits thermography with the early detection that potentially saved her life.
Medical Thermography allows detection of abnormal heat areas in the body by using an ultra-sensitive infrared camera. Groenewegen began practicing medical thermography in 2013, using these scans to help people pinpoint where their bodies were experiencing trouble.
“When it comes to pathology, inflammation is the root of all evil,” Groenewegen explains. “Using the heat sensitive camera, we map, measure and monitor heat patterns in the body which correlates to inflammation.”
A thermography scan is non-invasive, completely safe and the whole visit can take as little as 45-60 minutes. It consists of simply taking thermal images of the body and then allowing a team of medical professionals to analyze what areas, if any, are cause for concern.
Thermography has been used as an adjunctive screening to mammograms for breast cancer detection for decades. While it’s recommended that most women don’t start breast screening until age 40, medical thermography can be done in women as young as 20 to detect the earliest signs of cancer or breast abnormalities.
Medical thermography doesn’t stop there; the thermographic results can be instrumental in a variety of other diagnoses in many areas of the body for both men and women. According to Goenewegen, it forms a key part of a multidisciplinary approach to medicine.
“This is so incredibly helpful for holistic practitioners like chiropractors, because we are showing the practitioner where the patient is in that moment in time,” Groenewegen explains. “They can work with their patients to establish treatment plans and monitor them because not every protocol works for every patient. If we notice, thermographically, that there is little or no change after a treatment, that protocol or treatment probably needs to be changed.”
Another advantage is how the post-scan consultation empowers clients to take action on their own health in concert with their medical practitioners.
“Most, if not all of the patients who have walked through my door, have found it to be easy and informative and empowering to truly become part of the process of their wellness, seeing with their own eyes whether their screening and treatments are working for them,” Groenewegen says.
Patients choose between the options available, be it a full body scan like McCormack chose, or a more focused scan that focuses on the upper or lower part of the body.
While many insurances do not cover medical thermography, it is a qualifying expense for FSA and HSA accounts, so saving up for a scan can be done with small deposits into these accounts.
Most normal scans will receive a recommendation of returning in 12 months to establish a baseline; scans with areas of concern may receive a recommendation of a second scan in three to six months to monitor for change.
McCormack’s journey through breast cancer was difficult, but the ability to pinpoint an area of concern allowed her doctors to proceed decisively with treatment, leading her back to a cancer-free and healthy life.
“I’m like a walking thermography billboard now,” McCormack laughs. “It’s a way of taking care of your body without hurting it, and making sure that everything is okay.”