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Help Secure Our Future by Sharing It
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) conducts one of the most comprehensive surveys of the U.S. chiropractic profession every 4-5 years.
A Healthy Dose of Failure is Vital to Your Success
As an acupuncturist I tend to see people after they have already suffered for years and "tried everything." They are so desperate for some relief that they want to know everything about how to get better, right now.
History of Animal Acupuncture: Part II
In Part I of this article, I had gone back to 1969 and tried to describe the atmosphere and events of that year that engulfed many of the younger generation, some who were all the core members of the National Acupuncture Association.
The Problem With Prolonged Sitting
We need to constantly talk to our patients about spending less time sitting and about what can go wrong with poor sitting postures. The fact is we sit too long in repetitive malpositions.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
Thoracolumbar Syndrome: The Great Mimic
The thoracolumbar junction is a common area of joint dysfunction. The most obvious cause is dysfunctional breathing or lack of diaphragmatic breathing. Treating this breathing problem will ultimately be the long-term cure for the syndrome.
Get Ready For AOM Day
This year, AOM Day 2014 falls on Friday, (October 24th). This is a great opportunity to make your AOM Day celebration or event even bigger by extending it throughout the weekend!
When Big Pharma Meets Chinese Medicine
Earlier this year, Bayer made a media splash with their decision to buy the Dihon Pharmaceutical Group Co., a Chinese TCM manufacturer.
Let the Patient Tell Their Story
Often when a patient presents with an injury, they want to tell their story. People by nature like to talk about themselves, particularly when they're worried about their health.
Healing Community Trauma in Israel and Palestine
It's the beginning of August and Israel and Hamas have just agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire after a month of brutal fighting. In the last four weeks, 1,830 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed.
The Truth About Herbs
I appreciate the effort and research put into the article written in the June issue of Acupuncture Today regarding pesticides and Chinese herbs.
Medicalization and Mindfulness
The past several years have seen a veritable explosion of research on mindfulness. Research abstracts we've published in each issue of Health Insights Today under the heading "Mind-Body News" have increasingly reported on studies about mindfulness interventions.
Rethinking GMO: Less Panic, More Context
Some of you may have noticed that after writing parts 1 and 2 of “Genetic Modification of Organisms for Human Consumption” a while back [Nov. 15, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014 issues], part 3 never appeared.
A Glimpse Into China's Top Brain Hospital
The sounds of the city pass through the open window are overwhelming the microphone - car horns, construction machinery - and then there's the family at the adjacent bed talking loudly on cell phones, yet you can still hear the faint beep of our patients monitoring equipment.
MPA Media Wins Seven Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Acupuncture Today, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecendented seven publishing awards by the ASBPE, the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
The Science Behind Happiness
Are you happy right now? Whether yes or no, there are a myriad of reasons why you feel that way. A whole academic discipline has developed to find out what causes or obstructs happiness, and how to amplify it.
Thoughts to Live By
When speaking to your patients about their health make sure to ponder the following points and have them assess if they are making themselves even more sick by the thoughts they have about life. Are these some of the traits and thoughts that your patients might have?
Improving Our Political Effectiveness
The November 2014 elections are right around the corner; members of Congress, governors and state legislators are all running. Now is a good time to talk frankly about our overall political involvement.
A Commonly Missed Spinal Fixation: The Upper Lumbar Spine (Part 1)
When we think of lower back pain, we tend to think in terms of the lower lumbar spine and the SI joint. These joints and their discs are obviously important. However, we tend to miss fixations that occur just above – in the upper lumbar spine. Three questions come to mind: 1) Why is the upper lumbar spine so important? 2) Why do we miss the fixations here? 3) How can we adjust them?
The Spirit of the Point
After receiving a large amount of positive feedback on my San Zhen Protocols series, I have decided to focus this article on some relevant clinical aspects of acupuncture therapy prior to moving on to San Zhen Protocols III.
Uncle Sam Needs You
Scrutiny into the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) continues to grow after efforts to reform the DVA by the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, were deemed "a stunning period of dysfunction" by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
June, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 06
The Soft Touch
By Keith Eric Grant, PhD, NCTMB
In our technically oriented culture, we have become accustomed to relying on our instrument readouts and conscious reasoning. We can, in our wanderings, for example, routinely and accurately determine time and position from our communicating electronics. Vital signs of medical patients, once done periodically by a human, can now be continually taken by electronic sensors and monitored for changes by computers.
What we tend to forget is that our human bodies are covered with a network of tactile sensors numbering 6 million to 10 million in all,5 making us superb sensors in our own right. Equally forgotten is that our ability to integrate the ongoing stream of information from these sensors is beyond the capabilities of today's computers or of our conscious minds. Profound statements of our sensing and processing abilities come from a decade ago by dance/anatomy teachers Andrea Olsen and Caryn McHose8 and very recently by sensory scientist Martin Grunwald:5
"The somatosensory cortex of the cerebrum has a precise map representing sensory information from all parts of the body, and works in conjunction with the cerebellum of the brainstem to maintain a continuous, cumulative picture of the body's position in space. The cerebellum, in particular, is responsible for constant coordination and correction of posture, movement and muscle tone. Even more fascinating, it holds the image of where you just were, where you are now, and it projects where you will go next."8
"Our sense of touch also enables us to take the measure of our body's size and position. The parietal-cortex apparently combines millions of individual data points from the touch sensors in muscles, joints, tendons, and skin to create an internal picture of ourselves. Normally, people are very good at estimating how tall, heavy and broad they are, allowing them to duck sufficiently for a low doorway or turn sideways to slip through a narrow passageway."5
The subconscious "computational" processing that creates our body image from our sensors extends our responses to stimuli beyond direct reaction. The basis for meridian theory, for example, might lie as much in our processing of input as in our physical bodies. Grunwald and his group hypothesize that body image afflictions, such as anorexia nervosa, may lie partly within faulty integration of sensory information. Their research indicates that other touch-based (i.e., haptic) processing, such as drawing simple shapes from touch, may also be adversely affected by the underling dysfunction. Other paths of current research tie our sensory and neurological systems to our immune systems.9 The brain and immune system continuously signal each other, often along the same pathways, which may explain how sensory input and state of mind influences health.
Sensory research has also recently uncovered why being cuddled feels so good - human skin has a special network of nerves that stimulate a pleasurable response to stroking.10 Normal touch is transmitted to the brain through a network of fast-conducting nerves called myelinated fibers, which carry signals at 60 meters per second. But there is a second slow-conducting nerve network of unmyelinated fibers, called C-tactile (CT), the role of which was unknown. The CT network carries signals at just one meter per second. By examining the response of a woman who had lost the normal sense of touch, scientists were recently able to look at her responses to the C-tactile system. MRI scans of her brain revealed that brushing strokes activated insular region of the cerebral cortex associated with emotional response. The researchers concluded that the CT system may be important for emotional, hormonal and behavioral responses to tactile stimulation.
As sensory images, understanding anatomy via names and insertions is only one path, and perhaps not the optimal one. Olsen and McHose8 take the experiential path to learning about anatomy via touch and position, literally making use of sensory input rather than rote memorization. In her book, The Anatomy of Movement, Blandine Calais-Germain provides a dancer's dynamic view toward understanding muscles.2
The focus throughout the book is on anatomy not for its own sake as items to be memorized and recited, but in its functional relationship to the actual movements of the body in dance, exercise and other physical disciplines. I delight in teaching that a muscle, ever so gently activated against a resistance, suddenly takes on sharp form to our touch. The activated muscle, whether subscapularis or psoas, suddenly becomes "visible" to our searching fingers.
As sensory beings, we learn to understand the body by palpation - the soft touch of awareness and wonder.3 Our fingers and hands, via practice, learn to seek and find asymmetries and differences in range of motion and tissue texture.4 The benefits of practice don't come from mechanical practice of technique, but from performance with awareness of both the effort and of the actual results. The adjustment comes in first doing and then making a correction to our inner picture or body-sense and running through the process again. Practice should be done enough to solidify it yet stop before physical and mental fatigue undermines the efforts by decreasing attention, increasing response times, and recruiting less optimum patterns of muscle activation.
Ultimately, practice with attention takes one from inability, to perform a pattern of skilled actions, to slow conscious control of performance, to mixed conscious control of learning with use of already learned patterns, to unconscious performance in response to environmental stimuli and conscious wish. Learning of new movement and body usage patterns can temporarily disrupt similar existing patterns. It's as if the body experiences a short-term period of confusion about which pattern to use in a given situation. Teaching sports or deep tissue massage to existing practitioners of Swedish massage, for example, can result in feeling that well-known patterns feel a new uncertainness. The situation sorts itself out, resulting in both patterns being available for use. Research indicates that consolidation and integration of practice continues hours later during sleep.1
The greatest determinants of good work that I have seen are an attitude of humility, respect for the client to react individualistically rather than as the textbook predicted, and cumulative attention to sensory input and client responses. An initial sensory feeling of "groping in the dark" rather rapidly becomes knowledgeable palpation as we observe sensation, client response, and effects. Those who have learned from their clients and can organize what they have learned, have the potential to become teachers who can shorten the path for the attentive student.
Often the greatest learning comes not from what is written or recorded, but simply from watching a master worker move and interact with a client. Hours and facts memorized out of their context of use are the poorest training outcomes I've yet to find for the process of teaching others. That's something to sleep on, the approach with a soft touch.
Click here for previous articles by Keith Eric Grant, PhD, NCTMB.
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