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Whole Health: The MUSC Health & Wellness Institute Creates a Culture That Encourages You to Live a Healthier, More Fulfilled Life

Advance With MUSC Health
December 29, 2021
Two women sitting next to one another.

What if there was a science-based place that cared for your wellbeing before you get sick? Enter the MUSC Health & Wellness Institute, launched this year as a way to fill the gap in the continuum of care with a focus on its pillars of health, wellness, and human performance.

“Many people are often focused on trying to address medical problems after the fact rather than prevent them in the first place,” says Dr. Christopher Pelic, a psychiatry professor at MUSC and Health, Wellness, and Human Performance I.C.C.E. Chief. “Take for example a person who goes from being overweight to being prediabetic to overtly diabetic. Often they are referred to a dietician or exercise program only after being diagnosed with diabetes. Early nutrition or exercise interventions can completely change the trajectory for clients in these scenarios. The Institute can help people identify high impact opportunities and more importantly develop effective interventions that are tailored to the individual.”

The Institute will fill the gap with a variety of health, wellness, and human performance offerings for the community, both in-person and virtual, and is grounded in nutrition, exercise, and inner health. The aim is to optimize people’s lives through science-based applications, tackling health proactively and helping to maintain wellness with the help of medical experts in the fields of exercise, nutrition, and emotional wellbeing. Much of the programming will emphasize the overlap of each of the three pillars.

“If people are ill, they'll still go through the traditional care routes” Pelic says. The Health and Wellness Institute will help people stay well or those on their journey back to good health. “We are here to work with a range of people from those who want to get well to those who want to maintain their well-being. We want to create a culture that encourages people to live healthier, more fulfilled lives.”

The Institute offers personalized plans and optimal performance programs that utilize everything from MUSC Health registered dieticians to athletic trainers. For example, its health coaching programs offer an evidence-based, guided approach to lifestyle transformation while the dietician program presents opportunities for assisted meal planning and gut microbiome testing and evaluation, which includes a 30-day personalized gut reset plan.

With the belief that movement therapy is an integral part of overall health, the Institute’s human performance services offer individualized approaches that can boost your mood as well as the immune system while also reducing the risk of disease and improving quality of life. Clients can choose anything from red light therapy and red light cups to a HyperVolt body massage (vibration therapy massage) and MarcPro recovery session (electrical stimulation to improve muscle recovery).

Centering mental health wellness, the Institute’s MUSC Health Mindfulness Center fosters growth and resilience through evidence-based coping strategies, offering inner health sessions and programs that aim to help clients have less stress, restful sleep, healthy relationships, daily self-care, and a life that is intentional — not on autopilot. Two offerings on the Mindfulness Center menu are guided mindfulness, meditation, and resilience work by licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Alyssa Rheingold as well as yogic breathing sessions led by yoga biology researcher and author Dr. Sundar Balasubramanian, whose techniques can improve physical, emotional, immune, and neuronal health and cultivate a sense of calm, peace, and wellbeing.

A key tool available soon at the Institute is the Health Discovery Lab, a program that will help clients approach their whole health with a basic, comprehensive assessment of where they are, where they need to be, and suggestions and guidance on how to get there. “Normally you go to the doctor for an annual assessment and get, for example, a blood count, a cholesterol assessment, vitals, a physical exam, and weight; they tell you to lose a few pounds but then it’s up to you to find your way,” Pelic says. “The Health Discovery Lab provides additional information on multiple domains from physical to cognitive such as balance, body composition, and muscle composition. It’s comprehensive and will help people look at things in a detailed, objective way with direction from our engaging staff who can really help them be their best selves.” The Lab is a tangible way to track progress. Pelic says, “We can look at the actual numbers and see where we’re at, what goals were met, and what needs to be worked on — and that’s really neat. It is not intended to replace regular checkups with a primary care physician. Instead, it can give additional data points in an easy-to-understand way.”

As the services and programs continue to be added to the menu at the Institute, Pelic expects them to get progressively robust, with more state-of-the-art sports performance tools and novel nutrition programs expected to join the Lab lineup soon, for example.

In addition, joining forces with local community champions, like gyms, and working with businesses and groups will add even more health and wellness opportunities for the community. What’s more, the Institute has introduced the WellPass, a new subscription service that gives clients access to the varied, rich offering of classes, experiences, and innovative services — from culinary classes to nutritional consults to exercise programs — available through the Institute. Each pass is tailored to an individual’s specific needs, setting it apart from existing wellness options.

Importantly, the Institute isn’t just for MUSC Health patients — it’s a bountiful resource for the whole community. Pelic says, “This is a place where the public can come, in person or virtually, to achieve a healthier physical and mental state and improve their lifestyle choices.”

The Health & Wellness Institute is located at 1122 Chuck Dawley Blvd. Building B, Mount Pleasant, S.C. To sign up for a class, download the Health & Wellness Institute app for iOs devices or find the Institute in the MindBodyapp. To make an appointment, access more information, or discuss a personalized plan, call 843-985-0802 or visit the Health and Wellness Institute online.

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Advance With MUSC Health

Keywords: Wellness, Psychiatry