resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Leaving Footprints on Capitol Hill: Tribute to Dr. Kenneth Luedtke (1930-2014)
It was with great sadness that I heard of the passing of Dr. Ken Luedtke.
Cell Health (Part 2)
Dr. Barsten, your book is about restoring "cell vitality." Can you briefly define the term? Cell vitality is more than the mere absence of symptoms or pathology, but optimum structural, physiological and energetic health.
Acupuncture and Homeopathy: Bioenergetic Brothers
Acupuncture and homeopathy share an important healing principle: bioenergetics. "Bio" means "life," so bioenergetics is literally "life energy."
Mind-Body in Motion
A central goal of low back pain treatment involves the correction of dysfunctional movement patterns believed to be responsible for spinal overload.
It's Time to Create a Strong Acupuncture Footprint
Footprints in the sand. Footprints in the snow. Where do these footprints go? Some are big, some are small, but footprints are made by all.
Are You Really a Healthy Eater?
I always giggle a little bit (to myself) when someone comes into my office and informs me that they are a healthy eater. What exactly does that mean? Does that mean they eat sugar in moderation? And what's that, exactly?
Finding Balance in the Clinic
This past December, I celebrated 11 years in practice. I seriously don't know where the time went. I feel beyond blessed and grateful to be practicing our profound and beautiful medicine and to be helping guide my patients restore a state of optimal health.
Unlevel Pelvis in the High-School Athlete: Exploring Causes and Effects
The unlevel pelvis is all too common in the high-school athlete and if not detected, will likely cause a lifetime of musculoskeletal issues. Any provider who doesn't look for this common finding is missing critical information.
Connecting the Dots
In 2002, I published a book on patient examination procedures that included information on the procedural coding of the recommended examinations. The book should have been published in 2000, but I had trouble finding a publisher. Why?
The Conscious Evolution of Healing, Part 2
The idea of transmission is very important in the Chinese medical classics. According to author Claude Larre, the ancient Chinese were highly interested in the connection between things. Nothing was looked at as an isolated entity.
Neuroscience: Where Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine Can Come Together
The recent advances in neuroscience are truly incredible. With this expansion of scientific knowledge, I would like to see even more research into the neuroscientific basic of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.
Case Histories from Bali: Treating Balinese Chidren with TCB and Shonishin
When I moved to the island of Bali in 2005, I offered my services in Bumi Sehat, which means Healthy Mother Earth, a free birthing center for poor and disadvantaged local women located in Ubud.
Reflections: The Art of Teaching Asian Medicine
Over the past three decades, my global workshops have been translated into German, Swiss German, French, Romansch, Spanish, Lithuanian and Xhosa. Time to offer you new teachers a few tips!
Put the Social Back Into Social Media
Social media is more than a passing fad, it is definitely here to stay. Social media apps and channels of distribution may evolve, but the concept of social media is now big business and a part of all our lives.
Let's Speak With One Voice in 2015
For the longest time, the chiropractic profession has attempted to achieve some form of unity. On a political level, this was characterized by an ultimately unsuccessful two-year merger effort between ACA and ICA leadership from 1986-1988.
It might have been a miserable start to the day in the heart of downtown San Diego. A heavy rain had soaked the large homeless population congregating near the intersection of Third Avenue and Ash Street as they waited for a free breakfast to be served at the First Lutheran Church on the corner.
The Top Seven Website Mistakes Clinics Make
The majority of acupuncture clinics finally have a website for their business. Having a website is crucial for being found online through Google, Facebook and review sites like Yelp.
News in Brief
An Encouraging Sign at Palmer; NBCE Announces Retirement of Longtime Director of Testing.
Help Your Parents Stay Engaged
As much as parents may wish it were so, children do not come with an instruction manual. There's no "how to" that can be followed and no two children are alike, so what works with one generally won't work with the next.
Old TCM Sayings: Treat the Front to Treat the Back
Chinese medicine college was, and always will be, a memorable time. It was a time of massive personal and professional growth.
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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