resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
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.
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.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
November, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 11
Avian Flu: How Threatening Is It?
By Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President
Fall is here, and with it, another flu season. Last year, we were bombarded with information (some of it pretty alarmist) about flu, flu vaccines and the emergence of a dangerous new player on the field of infectious disease: avian flu.Since massage therapists work closely with lots of people, and because we are health care professionals, it behooves us to be up to speed on the latest developments about flu, and I am here to help.
A brief disclaimer: this information changes almost daily, but it's accurate as of mid-September, 2005.
What is It?
Flu (short for influenza) is a viral infection of the respiratory tract. Flu viruses are classified as type A, B or C. Type A flu is by far the most aggressive, with the highest risk of significant complications or even death.
In the United States, often we don't consider flu to be a significant health issue, but for at-risk populations it can be a life threatening infection. Anywhere from 5% to 20% of the population has flu each year. It accounts for 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths, mostly from pneumonia. The people most at risk for the serious complications of flu are the very young, the elderly or people with underlying diseases that affect lung or immune system function.
How Does It Work?
Flu viruses work in the usual way of infectious agents: they gain access to the body (often inhaled as airborne particles, although it can be spread by hand from contaminated surfaces) and then they invade their target cells. In this case, mucus-producing cells that line the respiratory tract. Once the infection becomes established, the immune system response causes most of the extreme symptoms, which appear one to three days after exposure. Flu is most communicable for three to seven days from onset of symptoms, depending on the age and health of the infected person.
Signs and Symptoms
In most cases, flu symptoms look like a bad cold: respiratory irritation with runny nose and dry cough; sore throat, headache, chills and a long-lasting high fever. Flu-related fevers often go over 102° in adults, and they might last for three days or more.
Unlike colds, flu infections affect more than the upper respiratory tract. Many patients experience aching muscles and joints, as well as debilitating fatigue. (One area flu viruses generally won't attack, however, is the gastrointestinal tract. What commonly is referred to as "stomach flu" is far more likely to be infection with norovirus or a case of food poisoning).
Flu symptoms usually appear one to three days after exposure to the virus, and they might persist for up to two weeks. If they last longer than that, or if the coughing begins to produce a lot of phlegm, the original viral infection might have opened the door to bacterial pneumonia: a potentially serious or even life threatening complication.
The Flu Vaccine
Every year, a flu vaccine is created from live, weakened viruses, based on predictions about which types of virus will be most active. Because predominant viruses change quickly, the vaccine is only effective for a year. For the 2005/2006 flu season, the vaccine is being distributed only to high-priority populations until late October; then it will become available to the general population. It's available in an injectable form or as a nasal spray (although the spray is recommended only for people between four and 49 years old).
I'm not going to open the floor to a debate about vaccinations here; that is a completely personal decision, and each individual must weigh possible benefits and risks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention caution, however, that persons who are allergic to chicken eggs, who have a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome or who have had an extreme reaction to a previous vaccine should not receive the flu vaccine.
Avian Flu: What's the Difference?
The avian flu that made the news last year is an infection with a particular subset of type A virus, called H5N1. (Other subtypes infect birds as well, but they appear to be much less dangerous to humans). The "H" stands for hemagglutinins; the "N" stands for neuraminidase. These are surface proteins on the virus; every flu virus is classified by what type of H or N it is. Water birds (ducks and geese) particularly are vulnerable to H5N1, although they often don't die from it. They shed virus in oral and nasal secretions, and in bird droppings. Wild birds can spread the infection to domestic poultry it's far more likely to kill chickens than ducks and from that point humans might be exposed.
Here's where it gets tricky. Bird-to-bird transmission of H5N1 is easy. Bird-to-human transmission of H5N1 is harder, but not impossible; it has happened a few dozen times in Thailand, China, and Vietnam. Symptoms are similar to human flu, with the added risk of conjunctivitis and viral pneumonia, but the mortality rate among infected humans is very high, close to 50%. So far, human-to-human transmission of H5N1 is very rare indeed, and might have happened only a few times that we know of. That's because H5N1 doesn't have many of the properties that make viruses easily transmissible between humans.
But that could change, and that's what health officials are worried about. At this moment, researchers foresee two possible ways for H5N1 to become easily transmissible between humans:
How high is this risk? That depends on whom you ask. While some public health officials are talking about "a time bomb waiting to go off," others point out that we are much better prepared to deal with an aggressive infection like H5N1 today than we were the last time a threat with a similar scope (Spanish flu, 1918-1921) hit the scene. Specifically, we are better at diagnosing the problem and aggressively isolating infected people, which, as we saw with SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), can quickly and effectively contain the problem.
On the other hand, no vaccine for avian flu has yet been developed (although this is being worked on), and it turns out H5N1 is resistant to the two most common anti-viral medications we have available: amantadine and rimantadine. So, our ability to shorten the lifespan of the infection is limited.
Massage and Flu
A person with flu who receives a rigorous, circulatory massage might find themselves with a much more serious infection than they would otherwise have. A person who receives massage after the infection has peaked and is on the mend, might find that recovery comes more quickly. However, two cautions must be kept in mind. The first is that squeezing several days of recovery into one or two days might make the client feel sick again. The client should know this is a possibility. The second is that a person recovering from flu still might be shedding virus.
What about our own self care? Like it or not, massage therapists are role models for taking excellent care of our own health. This means eating right, exercising, and getting good quality sleep: we all know these measures are the most important parts of keeping our immune systems strong. I will add one final point: if you're sick, be sick. Stay home. Drink hot fluids, get some rest. Do yourself and your clients a favor by investing your time and energy into conquering your infection, not into hiding your symptoms.
For Next Time
I would like to continue our exploration of emerging and re-emerging infections with a discussion of pertussis: whooping cough. This disease, which can be quite dangerous for young children, is on the upswing for two reasons: incomplete childhood immunizations and the fact that the pertussis vaccine doesn't have the lifespan we once thought it did. So, adults who were assumed to be protected are not. I would be especially interested to hear from people who have had this or seen this infection among their clients or children. Write to me and let me know: what's on your table?
Until then, many thanks and many blessings.
Special thanks to David Jackson, Communicable Disease Surveillance Program Manager, Utah Department of Epidemiology.
Click here for previous articles by Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President.
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