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Treating Beyond Pain
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint. Headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel... The pain is often the focus of the patient's mindset, and they don't often have any thought of what comes after the pain.
The Way We Are Designed: A Conversation with Gil Hedley, PhD
I was first introduced to the work of Gil Hedley by Tom DiFerdinando. He gifted me Gil's DVD series.
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.
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.
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.
Recreational Cannabis Use and TCM
Many people are drawn to cannabis for its effects physically, mentally and emotionally. Medically, cannabis has some legitimate uses, however the scope of this article is limited to the recreational use of cannabis.
The Dietary Supplement Research Dilemma
I do not care what the truth is, one way or another; I just want to know it. And when it comes to dietary supplements, the truth can be hard to find for a number of reasons.
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.
Synergy Doesn't Happen in Silos: Acupuncture in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings
As acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine continue to intersect and integrate with biomedical approaches, the conversation about integration expands and becomes richer.
Will You Be an Amplifer or a Mute?
These times are changing, and changing quickly. There have been many challenges to this profession throughout the past few years. The challenge is to talk, then talk and talk some more about this medicine.
Converting More Patients to Your Practice
In 2013 and 2014, the theme was "the money is in the list." This meant that if you had a big email list, you were really making some "cha-ching." Unfortunately, having thousands of emails doesn't equate to thousands of dollars in profit.
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.
TCM Congress in Rothenburg is Largest in Western World
In the medieval town of Rothenburg, deep set within the Bavarian countryside in Southern Germany, the TCM Kongress Rothenburg each year draws around 1.200 participants from more than 40 different countries to attend the biggest TCM conference in the Western world.
The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biopsychosocial and Ecopsychologica Medicine
Chinese medicine speaks of alignment between humans, heaven and earth. It is a complex view with a focus upon relationship. These are comprehensive ideas with no specific terms in contemporary medical practice.
A Well-Kept Secret: 5 Element Acupuncture, Part II
Supervising acupuncture interns at a TCM college, it has always struck me how funny it is to hear the clinic manager tell the patients that the Five Element clinic specializes in treating emotions, as if patients with physical pain have no emotions!
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.
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.
There Really is No Room for Sexism
Recently, Matteo* (a transgender male) approached me during a break in an advanced shiatsu class in Berlin where he was one of two men in a group of 20 women. "Pamela. Don't forget to remind the translator to include male endings."
An Excerpt from TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics
This excerpt is reprinted with permission from Jamie Wu. TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics was released in 2014 by People's Medical Publishing House.
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.)
December, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 12
What About My Brain?
Staying Mentally Fit
By Sharon Puszko, PhD, LMT
Being a massage therapist, I am aware of how my body sometimes feels, in terms of muscle soreness, fatigue, illness or general aches and pains, since all of these symptoms can affect my ability to work.Recently, after an extended period of traveling in which I became quite sleep deprived, I began to focus on the other aspects of our health: the mental component of it. After all, without our brain functioning properly, none of our muscles would function properly, either. Information on keeping our brain healthy has increased dramatically over the past 10 years, as advances in medical equipment have helped scientists learn more about how this mysterious organ works. Recent research has demonstrated that one's exercise, diet, sleep, and career can impact the health of one's brain. There is also growing consensus in the medical community that certain choices about exercise and diet can impact the likelihood of being challenged with memory problems and Alzheimer's disease.
Sleep On It
A study headed up by Matthew Walker, PhD, director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, examined how sleep, specifically, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, impacts our ability to read emotions in other people's faces. In the study, recently reported in Time magazine, 36 adult volunteers were asked to interpret the facial expressions of people in photographs, following either a 60-minute nap, 90-minute nap or no nap at all. Participants who had reached REM sleep (when vivid dreaming mostly occur) during their nap were better able to identify expressions of positive emotions like happiness in other people than participants who did not achieve REM sleep or did not nap at all. In fact, those volunteers who did not experience REM sleep, were more sensitive to negative expressions such as anger and fear.
According to Walker, dreaming (REM sleep) allows the brain to sift through that day's events, process any negative emotion attached to them, then strip it away from the memories: "(REM sleep) tries to ameliorate the sharp emotional chips and dents that life gives you along the way." Walker continues, "Sleep not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness but, at a neurocognitive level, it moves you beyond where you were before you took a nap."1
So, what does all this mean to you? Our success as massage therapists largely depends on our ability to perceive and connect with our client's emotional state during a massage. If a client does not feel a "connection" with his therapist, he is less likely to benefit from the massage, and less likely to return to that therapist. Likewise, the more connection a client feels with his therapist, the more likely he is to become a repeat client, and the more likely he is to recommend massage to someone else. Therefore, going to bed one hour earlier, or taking a quick nap during the day really can have an impact on the success of your business.
We all know the importance of exercise for maintaining a healthy weight and healthy heart, increasing the longevity of life and improving the quality of sleep. It now appears that exercise also effects the brain, in particular the regions that relate to Alzheimer's. In August 2010, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign published findings from research led by Dr. Art Kramer at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. The research team was interested in examining the effect of exercise on neural connectivity between regions of the brain that function together in a kind of "network". For example, the default mode network (DMN) is responsible for people passively engaging with their environment, such as day-dreaming. The DMN and other similar networks seem to lose activity with age, and Kramer's research has shown that the brains of people with Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, and older adults struggle to control the DMN. This study demonstrated that just moderate exercise (40 minutes a day, three times per week), can increase connectivity in the DMN, which aids with planning, strategizing and multitasking.2
It is beginning to seem like the benefits of exercise are endless! While some are vigilant about exercising regularly, others are easily bored by it. For those of you who aren't fans of working out in the traditional manner, there are plenty alternative activities that will not only exercise your body, but ALSO your brain! The following are some great activities (found in a recent article "Everyday Ways to Stay Sharp"):
To Read or Not to Read?
That is the question. There seems to be good reason our educators thrust British Literature upon us in high school. We have known for a long time that reading keeps the brain active and encourages good writing skills. However, we now know that reading Shakespeare has a particular effect on the brain that goes beyond the normal benefits. New studies link Shakespeare's linguistic technique known as "functional shift" (e.g. using a noun to serve as a verb) with positive brain stimulation. This process causes a sudden peak in brain activity and forces the brain to work differently in order to fully understand what Shakespeare is trying to say.
According to Philip Davis, an English professor at the University of Liverpool, "The brain reacts to reading a phrase such as 'he godded me' from the tragedy of Coriolanus, in a similar way to putting a jigsaw puzzle together. If it is easy to see which pieces slot together you become bored of the game, but if the pieces don't appear to fit, when we know they should, the brain becomes excited."4
With that information in mind, I would recommend inquiring at your public library about any Shakespeare book clubs. If you have the financial means, and a community college nearby, you could consider taking a literature class on Shakespeare. OMG, there is so much I can do to work on my brain! There are many more things one can do to keep the brain healthy and active: switch hands when writing or play sports, do crossword puzzles, eat well, journal, and just play.
We have just recently begun to understand the relationship between our external environment and its effect on the brain. It is an exciting area of study, especially when thinking about the connection between wellness and brain function. I look forward to learning more about the link between massage and brain function, and the possibilities it will lead to in our profession.
Sharon Puszko is the owner/director/educator for Day-Break Geriatric Massage Institute. She may be contacted at
or through her Web site: www.daybreak-massage.com.
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