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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
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.
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.
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.
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.
April, 2009, Vol. 09, Issue 04
Hospice Massage: What is Our Role at Life's End? Part 2
By Ann Catlin, LMT, NCTMB, OTR
In part one of this series on hospice massage, I explored how massage eases the many dimensions of pain for the person suffering from a life-limiting illness. The value of massage therapy in pain management is an easy association to make. We feel confident in our role of easing pain and can point to concrete reasons why we know massage is beneficial. But what is our role in serving those who have entered the final stages of life? It's important to gain a broader perspective of the role of massage therapy in hospice care. We can start by understanding a few basics about the process and to recognize that the later stages of life are part of a continuum.
Life-limiting illness means the person has been diagnosed with a progressive condition that affects quality of life and death is eminent within a more or less predictable period of time. When a person enters hospice care, he agrees that the focus of medical care will be comfort and quality of life--not curative. An individual may enter hospice care at any point along the continuum. Some are referred to hospice services at the time diagnosis of a life-limiting illness and receive hospice care for weeks or months. Others don't seek out hospice care until entering the final stages, referred to as actively dying. Active dying is the term used when death is eminent and the body systems begin to shut down leading up to the individual's transition. Certainly our role is going to be very different in serving the person who is actively dying.
When visiting an inpatient hospice unit affiliated with a hospice in the Chicago area, I asked the nurse what the average length of stay is. She told me that it is three days and that many of their patients are actively dying upon admission. This hospice unit offers massage therapy services to patients and their families. So again, I ask, "What is our role?" I'd like to offer a frame of reference that has served me well as a foundation from which to act. These are simple ideas that I have gathered along my own path of service.
Frame of Reference for Serving the Dying Person
To be a healing presence. There comes a point when massage as we know it is no longer called for. Instead we are called upon to bring forth something that comes from deep within--our ability to simply be present. Rather than cling to prescribed techniques, we must trust the simplicity of human compassion and our capacity to offer it to another. Our best resources when serving the dying person don't come from the techniques we've studied but from within our own hearts. We become the space-holder, allowing the dying person his/her own process and experience, and sometimes serve as an anchor for family members and other caregivers.
To enhance the quality of life. Doing what is called for in the moment to ease any form of discomfort is the best approach to take. One minute you might be offering a gentle foot massage or holding a hand and the next, moistening dry lips or helping to turn someone on their side to make breathing easier. One of my favorite quotes is from Mother Teresa: "Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work." Hospice service is about doing the humble work of each moment as it unfolds.
"But what am I supposed to DO?" you may ask. "If I'm there as a massage therapist, aren't I supposed to be doing bodywork?" These are questions I've heard from my students over and over again. The answer is two-fold: First, we must be willing to let go of our idea of what a session looks like. A session with a dying person may include gentle massage, focused touch or no touch at all. The length of a session varies according to what is called for at the time. The key is sound clinical judgment but also letting the rules go to truly serve the person. Confidence in our skills allows us to listen to our inner guidance and respond accordingly. Sometimes we really have to stop doing and simply BE.
Secondly, it is essential to have a repertoire of skilled touch approaches that are appropriate when the situation calls for them. I understand the need and desire to know some techniques that are safe and beneficial. The following are some hands-on approaches that may be useful in serving the dying person.
Sometimes the most compassionate thing you can offer is holding a hand or the feet while you focus your attention on the inner wholeness of the one you are touching. It is important to center yourself prior to making any physical contact.
Lifting and Shifting.1 This technique involves moving a part of the body for positional change and to ease pressure. Change the adjustment of the bed or add support of pillows under the arms or legs. Mindfully adjust the pillows under the head. Lifting a part of the body and holding it up for a moment relieves pressure.
Synchronized Breathing.2 This technique is effective to help ease difficult breathing. It involves synchronizing your own breath with simple massage strokes. First synchronize the rhythm of your own breath with slow effleurage strokes; breathing in as your hands move distally (toward your own body). Then breathe out as your hands move away from you. Let the sound of your breath be audible. This is a silent interaction. No words are necessary to encourage a natural synchronization with the rhythms of your breath and touch. If the person cannot tolerate physical contact you may remove the touch and focus only on the breath.
Support for the Bereaved
Hospice services must provide bereavement support or counseling for the family of the dying person. Bereavement means the extended period of grief preceding the death and following (usually for one year) the death of a loved one, during which individuals experience, respond and adjust to the loss. Supporting those suffering the loss of a loved one is a way to extend the gift of your touch and ease the impact of bereavement. Other caregivers in the hospice organization may also benefit from your services to alleviate the effects of caregiver fatigue and prevent burnout.
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization recognizes massage therapy as a valuable contribution to end-of-life care, stating: "Therapeutic massage is becoming a significant modality in end-of-life care because of its effectiveness in relieving anxiety, pain, and discomfort."3 Serving those in hospice care can be profoundly rewarding as we contribute to the quality of life at a very personal and sacred time of another's life. And, just as importantly, we will influence the nature of end-of-life care.
Click here for more information about Ann Catlin, LMT, NCTMB, OTR.
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