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Exploring and Learning from the Gift of Life
I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to teach cadaver dissection classes and workshops with Stephen Cina at the New England School of Acupuncture over the past seven years, first through the Sports Medicine Acupuncture Program and later as a NESA elective course.
Adding Microneedling to Your Clinic for Results and Profit
Microneedling has taken the beauty world by storm over the last 10 years. Under the names dermaroller, microneedling or skin needling you will see these treatments listed in the services of nearly every fashionable beauty salon and day spa in the country.
Chiropractic Care and Risk of Stroke: The Shoe Moves to the Other Foot
For decades, numerous papers have linked upper cervical chiropractic care to the incidence of vertebral artery dissections and stroke.
The Winter of Life: A Personal and Chiropractic Practice Perspective
Last November, my wife and I invited an elderly relative, Uncle Josh, to spend the winter with us. He was 82 years old at the time and turned 83 during his stay. As soon as he accepted our invitation, we began preparing.
Melatonin: A Promising Natural Agent in the Prevention of ALS
A number of years ago, experimental studies suggested melatonin could block key steps in the development of Alzheimer's disease, primarily by acting as a brain antioxidant and inhibiting the build-up of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain.
Medicine as Metaphor
The practice of medicine is both an art and a science. We study and learn the system so that when the time comes to apply it, there is a greater possibility of successfully helping others.
Looking Back: Abstracts From Chiropractic History (Summer 2015 Issue)
The following abstracts are reprinted with permission from Chiropractic History, the official journal of the Association for the History of Chiropractic. Chiropractic History is the leading scholarly journal of the chiropractic profession dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of the profession's credible history.
Reverse Digit Span: A Useful Assessment Tool for Patients With and Without Concussion
Reverse digit span is an easily administered test of attention span. It is a component of the SCAT3 test, which is frequently used to assess concussion. It has been part of the armamentarium of cognitive assessment for many years.
Exercise Recommendations for Healthy Aging
Aging is inevitable, but how you age is not. Common physical signs of aging include decreased muscle mass, decreased muscular power, increased body fat, and decreased aerobic (lung) capacity.
Can Acupuncture Treat Knee Pain?
Recently, an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that, "neither laser nor needle acupuncture conferred benefit over sham for pain or function" among older chronic knee pain patients.
Research: Know What You're Talking About
Have you ever seen a patient in your office with multiple serious health problems you weren't sure exactly how to address?
The Source-Luo Point Combination, Part 3
Dr. Nguyen Nghi (NVN) was born in Vietnam and is one of the most important scholars, writers, teachers and practitioners of modern time. Many of his theories and applications are the source of modern teachers from Europe and the United States.
The Art of Creating a Healing Space
I always advise my graduates to examine their group practice or treatment rooms with fresh eyes after they leave my CE workshops. I tell them, "Ask yourselves - is your space qi filled, welcoming and healing? Or is it cold and clinical?"
Are You Making the Wrong Impression?
Taking a page from Stacy and Clinton of The Learning Channel's hit television program, "What Not to Wear," we recently published an article in the summer issue of Chiropractic History: The Archives and Journal of the Association for the History of Chiropractic, that explores the evolution of physician attire from prehistoric times to the present.
An Unexpected Superfood: All About Eggs
About 40 years ago, excessive dietary cholesterol was labeled a public health concern. Specifically, it was thought that there was a causal link between consumption of cholesterol-laden foods and increased risk of heart disease.
Merger Creates New Model of Care
Two San Francisco powerhouses of holistic healing, the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM) and California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), are merging. Together they are building a visionary approach to applied integral health.
Abdominal Acupuncture for Eye Healing: The Sacred Turtle and Ba Gua Map
Our ideas about western medicine have shifted in recent decades, while the public is asking more from health care providers.
The Integrative Medicine Puzzle: Putting the Pieces Together
The conversation is changing in the broader healthcare community with patients actually moving the discussion toward more integrative topics. Patients today want to know their options.
Colon Health and TCM
I still remember many years ago, the loud "Yuck" from my wife at the time when we were together watching the Chinese movie "Last Emperor."
Online Marketing Basics: Google Ranking, Part 1
We all know there is so much opportunity with online marketing. And, let's face it, if you don't have a presence online with a website and social media, you are probably not where you want to be.
The Roots of TCM in Depression Treatment
In traditional Chinese medicine, there is historical precedent for the treatment of so-called "Shen" (Heart-Mind) disorder, or disorder/dysregulation of the spirit, which is also considered as distinct but not separate from the cognitive function of the brain.
April, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 04
Massage for Caregivers
By Tracy Walton, LMT, MS
I have provided massage to people with cancer for years, and the exchanges I have shared with them have influenced me deeply. But some of my most moving encounters have been with the caregivers of people with cancer. These are family members, friends and partners who, by design or by accident, also are shaped and molded by their experiences as companions to their loved ones.
I meet caregivers when they bring their loved ones into my office. I also meet them at my clients' homes, bedsides and in the hospital. Occasionally, I even see them on my massage table, sometimes for an occasional massage and sometimes for a course of sessions.
Unfortunately, this is not as often as I wish. Caregivers often are the last to benefit from skilled touch in the cancer scenario. When I brainstorm with my students about the benefits of massage for people with cancer, we think up a flurry of ways touch can be helpful to patients. Often a lone voice will ask, "What about massage for family and other caregivers?" And we all quietly nod, remembering people who tend to be forgotten.
Caregiving can be physically exhausting and emotionally draining. It can mean being in a chronic state of emergency. It can require constant vigilance - 24 hours a day, seven days a week - for weeks, months or even years at a time. Imagine being at a sentry post for that long, never relaxing when your world is under siege. The sense of responsibility can be staggering, and rarely is matched by an equivalent amount of control over how things are going to go. Finding ourselves in this disparity, it's natural to be frightened, sad and outraged by the experience. It's no wonder the health risks of caregiving are enormous. Most poignantly, caregiving is isolating. It can be an incredibly lonely experience.
Against this landscape, I've looked for resources in massage therapy and found several. One is a book, A Touch of Hope, by Jana Carrington, who practices massage and teaches Reiki in central Florida. She knows both sides of the experience as a caregiver to her husband through years of cancer treatment, and as a cancer survivor who was diagnosed with cancer within months after her husband's completion of a bone marrow transplant and subsequent remission. Her book is designed for caregivers to read in small increments for self-care tips such as simple reminders to breathe. It's beautifully laid out and possible to draw from without making a commitment to reading the entire book.
I know of two research papers in which investigators looked at the effects of massage therapy on caregivers of people with cancer. The first, by Stephanie Rexilius, et al., appeared in 2002 in Oncology Nursing Forum. The researchers looked at caregivers of patients receiving a stem cell transplant. They recruited 36 caregivers and compared a massage group, a healing touch group and a control group. The massage and healing touch groups received two 30-minute sessions per week over three weeks. The investigators found anxiety, depression, and experiences of burden and fatigue at baseline. Although they did not find statistically significant improvements in the healing touch group, subjects who received massage therapy showed reduction in anxiety, depression and several types of fatigue.
In another paper, Nursing Research, a researcher looked at a more general population - spouses of patients with cancer. Author Linda Goodfellow recruited 42 subjects as part of her doctoral work in nursing. Half were provided with a single 20-minute massage. The other half (the control group) read a book for 20 minutes. In both groups, blood was collected via an IV that had been placed 30 minutes before the procedure. The investigator found improvement in mood and reductions in stress after the massage intervention as compared to the control group, but did not observe effects of massage on natural killer (NK) cell activity, a measure of immune function.
These two studies, while small, demonstrate a spark of interest in the potential for massage to help people's stress during difficult times in their lives. I would caution therapists to quote these studies carefully, without making sweeping claims. Something like, "Small studies suggest that massage therapy might help caregivers of people with cancer" and "Further study is needed to see what the role of massage is in this population," are more accurate than the statement, "Research proves massage helps caregivers."
But the fact that the research isn't quite there yet shouldn't stop us from seeking out work with caregivers. We don't have to wait for the science to support what we already know in our hearts: Skilled touch heals. It eases stress and builds an important bridge between people, easing the isolation of some of the hardest human experiences.
Yes, resources are growing in recognition of caregiver stress. But one of the greatest resources might be massage therapy professionals. Our willingness to listen, the full attention we give to our clients, and the support we provide to others can be powerful. As they give their companionship to others on the cancer journey, so too can they use our companionship.
One of the best resources in this caregiver scenario might prove to be our own hands. There we can comfort, reassure, ease pain, help sleep, shift perspective, validate and support. There we can provide respite, a port in a storm - and where nothing has to be explained, just wordless, quiet support. It will be interesting to find out, in the years ahead, the difference that our work can make.
Click here for more information about Tracy Walton, LMT, MS.
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