resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Jingei Diagnosis: An Effective and Powerful Diagnostic
I graduated from the Kotatama Institute under the direction of Drs. Masahilo and Katsuharu Nakazono in 1984. As a student, I was exposed to the practice of most of the various theories and modalites of Oriental Medicine.
Calcium Helps Prevent Colorectal Cancer
Over the past 25 to 30 years, studies have suggested calcium may confer protection against colorectal cancer.
Blaming the Gluteus Medius, Overlooking the Deltoid
The gluteus medius (Gmed) is commonly written about, strengthened and blamed for many conditions, and rightfully so. After all, the Gmed plays a role in pelvic stability, hip motor control and lower-quarter dynamic movements.
Talking to Patients About Healthy Aging
I've noticed that a particular category of patients seems to make up more and more of my practice – they work out, but still experience lots of degenerative joint disease (DJD) issues.
Managing Today's Fertility Patient
I recently received an email from one of my fertility patients: "Got my lab results back. FSH is 11, AMH is 0.7. My doctor said these numbers aren't good. I guess I'm infertile. Just as a thought. Just set up an appointment to speak with an adoption agency."
Simple Ways To Find True Happiness
Patients in our clinics are always seeking happiness. As their health advocate, we need to ensure we inform them that in order to find happiness, they have to make sure to identify what makes them happy in the first place.
5 Ways to Occupy Occupational Health
Despite the progress that has been made to better protect workers, occupational health and safety remains a priority area for many national governmental organizations due to the widespread problem of occupationally related morbidity and mortality.
The Tao of Gender
If you think gender is as simple as having a new client check off the "male" or "female" box on your intake form, we hope this article will expand your understanding and thus the reach of your health care.
Pulse Diagnosis: What We Know
I am still finding pearls of wisdom from the books and papers that I inherited from my pulse diagnosis mentor Jim Ramholz.
Healing With TCM at San Quentin State Prison
For the prisoners at San Quentin State Prison, life-sentences are the reality of every day life. It is not often that prisoners get the opportunity to use alternative medicine to deal with common ailments they encounter behind bars such as, depression, anxiety and pain.
To The Finish Line With the Help of TCM
When acupuncturist Eddy De Smedt pursued a career in Traditional Chinese Medicine, he knew he wanted to make a difference.
Understanding and Identifying Pediatric Growth-Plate Fractures
In general, fractures in children heal well with little intervention as long as the alignment is good. Fractures involving the growth plate, however, are a different issue. In fact, growth-plate injuries are the primary reason for the subspecialty of pediatric orthopedics.
Saying No to Medicine
An interesting article recently appeared in Men's Journal titled "When to Say No to Your Doctor." The article begins with the summary statement above and effectively arms readers with information that will help them "take more responsibility for your own health care, because you can't be sure anyone else is.
Web Marketing: Content Is King
Google's sweeping updates to its search algorithms over the past few years have brought a paradigm shift in how you can optimize your chiropractic website to gain maximum marketing leverage.
Lime Jello on Morphine
Taste is in the eyes... actually the mouth... of the beholder. My food preferences have changed, lightening from the food of my youth. My parents loved heavy eastern European cuisine and I loved it as a child. Now I enjoy leaner, healthier whole foods.
The X Factor in Clinical Research: The Patient
It was the great baseball legend, former New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra – he of countless aphorisms, each with a mind-bending twist – who once declared, "You can observe a lot by watching."
The Wonders of Light Therapy: An Interview with Wes Burwell
I first met Wes Burwell in 2011 when he was teaching a class on light. Since then, every time I hear him speak, his understanding of the benefits, function and capacity of light has evolved.
AOMA Strengthens Leadership Team
AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, a leading college of acupuncture & herbal medicine, announced the appointment of Donna LaPoint Hurta, MBA as the new VP of Finance & Operations this Fall.
The Heart Protector
On the physical level, the Pericardium is a double-layered sac of fibrous tissue that envelops the Heart. The space between the layers is filled with serous fluid that protects the Heart from external shock or trauma and lubricates to allow for normal Heart movement.
Help Patients Achieve Optimal Vitamin D Levels
Much research has been done on vitamin D levels and their impact on health; optimal levels have been correlated with a reduced risk of developing numerous conditions.
Managing Patient Expectations About Acupuncture
Last year, I attended the Pacific Symposium in San Diego for the first time in six or seven years. It was the 25th anniversary of this event, and on one evening there was a panel discussion with the title; "What is Qi?."
July, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 07
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: Part 1 of 2
By Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President
In my last article I put out a call for massage therapists who work with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) patients to get in touch with me. I hoped to share some of their stories with Massage Today readers. Well, the response was amazing. I have lots of information to share, both on the development and latest research into this disease (part 1), and on what therapists are doing to help improve the quality of life of their clients who have it (part 2).
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: What Is It? Also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, ALS is a rapidly progressive, irreversible condition that destroys motor neurons in the central and peripheral nervous systems, leading to the atrophy of voluntary muscles. ALS usually affects people between 40 and 70 years old; the average age at diagnosis is 55. It can occur in higher rates within families, but the distribution and incidence of this disease is usually random. Men have it slightly more often than women. Approximately 20,000 people in the U.S. are living with ALS at this time, and life expectancy between diagnosis and death for most patients is two to 10 years.
Etiology: What Happens? The primary feature of ALS is the destruction of motor neurons. In most cases, it begins in the anterior horn cells and the descending tracts in the spinal cord. Large motor axons degenerate and are replaced with fibrous astrocytes, a type of glial cell. This is the derivation of the name of the disease: "lateral sclerosis" refers to the scarring of the motor tracts on the lateral aspects of the spinal cord. Without stimulus from the upper motor neurons, lower motor neurons (that take messages from the spinal cord to the neuromuscular junction) atrophy. Ultimately, the skeletal muscles deteriorate without sufficient motor stimulus: "amyotrophic" refers to muscle wasting.
While we have a reasonably clear idea about how this disease progresses and changes function, its causes are still unknown. At this point in time, the features of ALS that are being intensively studied include abnormal glutamate levels (this is an excitatory neurotransmitter that accumulates in the synaptic cleft, killing the affected neurons); exposure to neurotoxins (including lead, agricultural chemicals and others); free radical activity (this is an issue especially when ALS runs in families); a deficiency of neurotrophic factors (these are chemicals that allow for healing or new growth of nerve tissue); and a new avenue of inquiry: Almost half of all ALS patients show signs of retroviral exposure. Further explorations of these factors may eventually open new doors to effective treatments to stop or even reverse this mysterious disorder.
Signs and Symptoms. ALS presents different early symptoms in different people. The most common pattern is stiffness, weakness and awkwardness in one body part, which slowly spreads to other parts of the body. About two-thirds of ALS patients have their first symptoms in the arms or legs; these cases are called spinal ALS. The final third will begin with "thick speech," excessive salivation, and difficulty with swallowing. This implies damage to cranial nerves rather than spinal nerves and is called the bulbar form of ALS. Fasciculations, or visible muscle twitching, may be present, along with painful cramping. One side is typically worse than the other, and the stiffness eventually moves proximally up the limbs, eventually to affect the trunk muscles for breathing. The leading cause of death for ALS patients is respiratory failure.
The nerve damage seen with ALS is to motor neurons only; sensory neurons are not affected. This can be a painful disease, however, as the body gradually collapses and gravity puts musculoskeletal stresses on muscles that have no power to respond. ALS does not influence intellectual capacity at all. While depression and anxiety are certainly a part of the process, the disease itself does not affect cognition or awareness.
How Is It Treated? Traditionally, treatment for ALS has been strictly palliative; that is, aimed at managing the severity of the symptoms only. Recently, some medications have been developed that can slow but not stop or reverse the progress of the disease. Other interventions include drugs for muscle spasms, along with moderate exercise and speech, and physical and occupational therapy to maintain muscle strength as long as possible. (This turns out to be a delicate balance. Too little exercise allows muscles to degenerate; too much exercise puts a dangerous demand on low-functioning neurons - which can also cause muscles to degenerate.)
Assistive devices such as leg braces, arm braces or wheelchairs can improve a patient's ability to function. In advanced cases, swallowing may be so difficult that the insertion of a stomach tube (gastrostomy) may be recommended. Since this disease does not impede cognitive or emotional processes at all, psychological therapy for ALS patients and their families is an important part of the treatment plan.
Massage? We'll get into specific ideas about massage techniques for clients with ALS in part 2. In the meantime, bear in mind that this is a disease that involves the degeneration of motor neurons but not sensory ones, and the client is fully aware of the changes occurring in his or her body. This combination of factors makes massage a great choice for many ALS clients because sensation is intact and the client can communicate (until he or she is very advanced) about how the massage feels and what is needed. Massage therapists who work with a client who has ALS are probably going to be working with someone in the process of dying. What a gift and privilege to be invited into this holy process.
I'm still accepting communications from therapists about their experiences with clients who have ALS - please share your wisdom with other readers through this column.
Until then, many thanks, and many blessings,
Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB
Editor's note: Read part 2 of Ruth Werner's article in the Sept. issue.
Click here for previous articles by Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President.
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