resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
March, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 03
Clinical Reasoning Skills
By Whitney Lowe, LMT
In the health care arena, assessment is commonly defined as the systematic process of gathering information in order to make informed decisions about treatment. We all do this any time we make a decision about how much pressure to use, which technique to employ, or how to address a particular problem presented by a client.What is different is the degree to which we use these assessment skills. As massage therapists become more involved in treating people, the process of assessment becomes increasingly important. You must be able to distinguish between conditions with similar symptoms and make vital decisions about how to approach a client's condition, or determine whether to treat the condition at all.
There are numerous systems of assessment for pain and injury conditions that share common elements, including the use of specialized orthopedic tests. These tests are used by different types of health care professionals to identify various pathological problems. Since different health professionals utilize the same tests, communication between multiple practitioners regarding the condition of a client/patient is easier. However, while these tests are a valuable part of the assessment process, a common trap can occur when using them. The trap occurs when too much emphasis is placed on using tests over other methods of assessment and evaluation. For example, if a client complains of shoulder pain, and you know about special orthopedic tests for shoulder disorders, it is a common fallacy to run through these tests to see if you can find the nature of the client's problem. This is still a shotgun approach. What is missing is an essential element of the assessment process: clinical reasoning.
When first learning about a subject, the information is often divided into separate facts or concepts. It is only after achieving a greater degree of mastery in the subject that people organize this information into usable patterns. Studies that have investigated the difference between the way experts and novices present information have found that experts put together more patterns of information, while novices tend to gather more separate details, many of which may be irrelevant to accomplishing the final task or skill they are learning. This aspect of learning and processing information is essential in assessment and clinical reasoning processes, and can be well-illustrated in the following example.
When a client complains of shoulder pain and describes the common symptoms, the practitioner must determine what information is relevant and how to proceed in the evaluation process. If the statements are considered separately, they may not lead to essential clues about the nature of the condition. This is often where the practitioner jumps to the use of several tests to see if he or she can hit on the "right condition"; however, the more skillful practitioner will pick up on statements during the initial intake and begin to form patterns. This practitioner will see connections between various signs and symptoms, and the further line of inquiry will almost lead itself in many cases. The art of reasoning is the ability to see these patterns of connection; therefore, the challenge is learning how to perfect those skills and see the patterns.
Consider the job of a detective. When investigating a crime, the detective must pick up on clues and determine which ones are important (and which ones are not). The ability to discriminate between the two can be difficult. The best way to make this choice is through a combination of subject-matter knowledge and experience.
For clinical practitioners, the more we know about various pathological problems, the wider the base of information we can draw from when searching for relevant clues. At the beginning, it will be difficult to know which clues are relevant - this is where experience comes into play. After seeing similar conditions a number of times, we develop an experiential background against which we can see similar patterns and recognize which cases are similar to others we have worked with before. As we combine our knowledge and experience, we are able to more accurately and quickly find the nature of a client's complaint.
The more skilled you become in clinical reasoning, the easier and faster the assessment process will be. Therefore, as you learn about assessment and range of motion evaluations, muscle tests, or specialized orthopedic tests, always think about why you are using a particular procedure, instead of just going through the motions. The more you understand why you are doing what you are doing, the more you will contribute to your ability to see these patterns within the clinical evaluation process, and significantly improve your skills.
Click here for more information about Whitney Lowe, LMT.
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