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Peer Points: In The Business of Herbs
When it comes to herbs, acupuncturist Cathy Margolin wants her patients and customers to know she is the expert they need. In order to do this, Margolin has studied the marketplace and incorporated key business lessons to build an herbal company that sells and markets herbs to the masses who may be skeptics.
Patellofemoral Pain: Fascial and Exercise Treatment
I recently had a male high-school senior come in who was having some patellofemoral pain, as well as some distal iliotibial band (ITB) pain. He had just started end-of-summer training to play high-school football.
The Lateral Subsystem and Lower Extremity Pain
Human locomotion is an incredible demonstration of muscle activation, timing, sequencing and patterning. The very idea that we can stand upright and put one foot in front of the other to get from point A to point B without falling down is miraculous.
Unlocking Secrets of the Pelvis (Pt. 3)
In part 1 of this series [Aug. 15 issue], we began to identify the many asymmetries human beings are all born with and detail how these asymmetries, when they become excessive or unchecked, can create a cascade of imbalance in every system of our body, resulting in dysfunction, pain, degeneration and eventually disease.
Continuing Education Showdown: Online Learning vs. In-Person Seminars
Many state TCM and acupuncture regulatory bodies and associations are interfering with the success of their members by limiting the number of continuing education credit hours they can earn online.
Sports Media Legend Joins the TIPS Team
The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress developed "Athletic TIPS" (Towards Injury Prevention in Sports) in an effort to address the growing concern of sports injuries.
Leaving a Vision of the Future Behind
Jeff Nelson, president / chief executive officer of Northwestern Health Sciences University since April, died suddenly on Oct. 22 as the result of a gunshot wound.
Breathing Techniques To Resolve Patient Issues
When a patient of mine who has practiced yoga for nearly 30 years, told me that she was experiencing panic attacks, I was surprised. "After so many years of training, can't you turn them off?" I asked. "I do turn them off, but only temporarily," she replied.
50 Million Opportunities
Toca! Tira! Golasso! While you may not recognize these words ("Touch! Shoot! Goal!"), I hear them often.
Acupuncture In Haiti: Aid that Works
I recently returned from Haiti. So many people ask whether Haiti has recovered since the earthquake of January, 2010. Once you've been to Haiti, you would never ask that question. It doesn't make any sense.
Educating the Growing Hispanic Population About the Value of Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic was given the spotlight on the largest and highest-rated Hispanic television network in the U.S., Univision.
Studies: Acupuncture Effective For Depression
Many people suffering from depression can find a natural and effective way to treat their symptoms with acupuncture, according to the latest study.
Does Copper in Your Multivitamin Cause Dementia?
For the past year or more, I have been asked about whether it is safe to take multivitamins with copper because of a fear that is apparently spreading. The fear is that 1-2 mg of copper in multivitamins supposedly causes dementia and/or Alzheimer's disease.
Partnerships Leverage Power for Our Profession
While there are many recognized benefits and advantages to developing partnerships between organizations, the main reason why partnerships are established is relatively simple: There is added value in working together for a common cause or purpose.
PCOM Symposium Celebrates 25 Years
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine practitioners and students, as well as providers representing various other health care disciplines, flocked to San Diego's Catamaran Resort Hotel to attend the PCOM Annual Symposium on Oct. 24-27.
We Get Letters & E-Mail
Change: Healthy and Inevitable; Our Scope of Practice Needs to Change; Chiropractic Physicians Deserve to Be Accurately Informed.
Advancing the Primary Spine Practitioner
A large New York Blue Cross / Blue Shield plan hosted the formal inaugural training program for primary spine practitioners (PSP) on Sept. 28-29, 2013.
Acupuncture Today Continues To See Unprecedented Growth
For the past decade, the profession has seen steady growth in stature with legislators and the general public. The growing presence of the profession has been directly reflected in the growth of our publication.
Promoting Acupuncture with Acupressure Demonstrations
Dan and his wife Marla were admiring the beautiful bouquet of flowers at our booth at the Business Expo when our receptionist asked him if he knew anyone who had tried acupuncture.
Managing a High Protein Diet
One of the most common clinical presentations in today's clinic is patients following a high protein diet. It seems that every year a new version of a high protein diet appears promising weight loss and physical transformation.
The Newest Public-Health Epidemic: Sitting Too Much, Moving Too Little
In my last column, I wrote about sitting versus standing at work. ("Sit or Stand? Strategies to Improve Workplace Health and Reduce Disease," Oct. 1 DC) I wrote the article from the perspective of an ergonomist.
Electric Qigong: An Ancient Therapy Evolves
Recently in a small, dimly lit treatment room in downtown Taipei, Wesley Chen instructed his patient to lie down. A frayed wire, which he wrapped around a small piece of metal, is now plugged in.
Facial Rejuvenation: The Key to Exceptional Results
Acupuncturists make the best detectives. I know this first hand because I'm an acupuncturist and a private investigator and in both professions, there is a need to dig deep to solve the mystery.
Acupuncture & Substance Abuse Rehabilitation
One of the most rapidly changing areas of healthcare is that of addiction medicine. Advances in brain imaging technology have allowed doctors and scientists to understand addiction, and recovery from addictive disorders, at the level of the individual neuron in the brain.
A Tribute to Richard D. Yennie, DC (1928-2013)
It was with sadness that I read the obituary of Dr. Richard Yennie in the Oct. 20, 2013 Kansas City Star. However, reading it also brought reflection and warm memories, as he was a close family friend of my grandparents, Cleveland College founders Drs. Ruth and C.S. Cleveland Sr.; and my parents, Drs. Mildred and Carl Cleveland Jr.
German Auricular Acupuncture: Effective For Your Patients
Auricular medicine as developed by Western medical doctors in Europe is a complete modality of diagnosis and treatment. Unlike body acupuncture, auricular acupuncture is treating the central nervous system rather than meridians.
Acupuncture: The Key and Future of High Sports Performance
Acupuncture is commonly utilized in the intervention of pain and has also been gaining popularity in sports medicine. Athletes are treated with acupuncture for the relief of soft tissue injuries such as sprains, muscle strains, and tendonitis.
April, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 04
How to Help People With Parkinson's
By Ben Benjamin, PhD
Those readers familiar with my column will know that my articles typically deal with pain and injury conditions. This month, I'm excited to address a very different type of ailment, Parkinson's disease (PD), and a type of exercise therapy that can dramatically reduce the symptoms of this disorder.Seeing the effectiveness of this work with clients has been a wonderful surprise and a great learning experience, as well as being deeply gratifying.
What is Parkinson's Disease?
Nearly one million people in the United States are living with PD, a chronic, progressive, neurological disorder with no known cure. Most PD is idiopathic (of unknown cause), but some cases are thought to be caused by genetic factors or exposure to environmental toxins.
PD affects the brainstem, the lowest part of the brain, which connects directly with the spinal cord. Specifically, it affects the neurons (nerve cells) in an area called the substantia nigra. When they are functioning properly, these neurons produce dopamine, a chemical responsible for transmitting movement-related messages. In a person with PD, 60 to 80 percent of those cells become damaged and no longer produce enough dopamine. As a result, the person begins losing the ability to initiate and control their movements.
While brain scans can reveal whether a person's substantia nigra is damaged, there is still no single test or exam that proves the presence of PD. The primary indicators of the disease are four characteristic symptoms: tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia (slowness of movement), and postural instability. As the disease progresses, these movement conditions ultimately result in paralysis. Additional symptoms often associated with PD include fatigue, sleep disorders, cognitive impairment, depression, speech problems, gastrointestinal issues, impulsive behaviors and pain. The development and advancement of PD is somewhat of a mystery and varies by person. For instance, although tremors are commonly a primary symptom, some individuals experience no tremors but instead have problems with balance. While some people quickly become severely physically disabled, others live with a much slower disease progression over 20 to 30 years.
Treatments for PD vary depending on the stage of the disease and the symptoms the individual is experiencing. The medications currently prescribed do not reverse symptoms but can slow their progression. Unfortunately, some drugs may lose their effectiveness over time, cause an allergic reaction, or cause disconcerting side effects, such as dsykinesia (sudden involuntary movement). However, in many cases, finding the right combination of medications can dramatically improve a person's quality of life.
In cases where medication is not sufficient, PD is sometimes treated with deep brain stimulation (DBS). This is a surgical procedure in which a neurostimulator (essentially a "brain pacemaker") is implanted in the brain. The device sends electrical impulses to the specific areas of the brain that control movement, while also blocking the abnormal nerve impulses that people with PD often experience. It can sometimes take up to three months for this treatment to significantly reduce symptoms, but the success rates are high.
In addition to pharmaceutical and surgical treatments, speech and physical therapy are usually helpful. Physical exercise in particular appears to help some of the movement symptoms by improving balance and flexibility and reducing joint stiffness.
As an experienced therapist, I concluded long ago that there was little that hands-on practitioners could do for people with degenerative neurological conditions such as PD. I'm happy to say that over the past few years, I've been proven wrong. As increasing numbers of massage therapists and bodyworkers are discovering, active isolated stretching (AIS), can be enormously helpful in reducing PD symptoms and restoring normal motor function.
Several aspects of AIS help to explain its unique ability to provide neuromuscular benefits. First, every AIS stretch includes a gentle assist. At the end of the client's active range of motion, the practitioner provides just enough assistance to push slightly beyond what the person could do on his or her own, typically adding two or three degrees with each repetition. This means that the muscles are continually moving into new territory. The brain-muscle connection keeps learning to do something new and different, which means new neural pathways are always being created.1
In addition, the stretches in AIS are active, rather than passive. Although the practitioner supports and assists the stretch, each movement is initiated by the client. This further reinforces the connections between the brain and the muscles.2 Repetition of the stretches also promotes nerve development. Instead of a single stretch held for a prolonged period of time, AIS involves six to 12 repetitions of each movement, performed for just two seconds.
Another relevant factor is the reduction of muscle spasticity, which is excessive tone in a muscle that leads it to involuntarily contract when it is stretched or lengthened. It can vary in severity from mild muscle stiffness to severe, painful spasms. In many cases, AIS can effectively resolve spasms and lessen spasticity.
Beyond these specific neuromuscular effects, some of the more general benefits of AIS are very helpful for individuals with degenerative neuromuscular diseases. AIS helps restore the supply of oxygen and nutrients to chronically contracted, blood-starved tissue. Some of the most affected tissues in Parkinson's patients are the "two joint" muscles that act across more than one joint. These include the hamstrings and rectus femoris (hip and knee joints); gastrocnemius (knee and ankle joints); and the psoas (hip joint and multiple joints in the low back). AIS allows for focused stretching on each of these muscles, working toward restoring normal posture and gait. After flexibility has been restored, the focus shifts to building strength through Active Isolated Strengthening.
My First Client With Parkinson's Disease
It's one thing to have a theoretical understanding of how AIS can reduce neuromuscular symptoms; it's quite another to see this in action, with real people who are suffering from progressive degenerative disorders. When I first heard that AIS could help clients with PD, multiple sclerosis, and other neuromuscular conditions, I was extremely skeptical. Only after seeing dramatic improvements in my own clients did I fully accept that this was possible.
My first client with PD, whom I'll call Mary, was a college professor whose symptoms had begun four-and-a-half years earlier. After receiving a critical evaluation from one of her advisees that she thought was unfair, she became distressed and started shaking. This is common; while life stresses do not cause PD, the first signs of the disease often occur during a stressful event. Although she had no problems with balance, she experienced both tremor and rigidity, which interfered with her daily life.
I began treating Mary with hour-long AIS sessions, twice a week. She began to feel increasingly looser, stronger, more flexible, and less rigid. Within about three months, there was a drastic reduction in her symptoms. Previously, her right foot had dragged, and now she could lift it up, even on days when she was under stress. For several years, she hadn't been able to brush her hair with her right hand; now she could do that regularly. She also credits AIS with eliminating an extreme, acute pain in her arm and an annoying pain in her fingers and toe joints, as well as with improving her ability to write. As the years went by, her writing had become smaller and smaller, and she had lost the capacity to write "N"s and "M"s. After several sessions, she could write an "M". Currently, she can write almost as well as she could five years ago.
The AIS work also seems to have affected Mary's sleep. For four years, she had experienced severe sleep troubles that would cause her to get up in the middle of the night, even with the help of medicine. A month and a half after starting AIS treatment, she began sleeping through the night. After about three months, she told me that for the first time in years, she had woken up feeling truly rested and refreshed. Both she and her doctor (a neurologist who specializes in movement disorders) believe that this improvement is due to AIS. Another benefit was being able to halve the dosage of a medication she was taking, which made her sleepy. Before Mary started with AIS, her doctor wanted to put her on the strongest possible medication. After seeing the progress she was making, he decided to postpone this measure.
One of the most inspiring changes to witness was that as Mary's symptoms decreased, she regained her self-confidence. Because her tremors have diminished significantly, to the point where they are usually unnoticeable by others, she is less self-conscious in stressful meetings or other public interactions. (Mary was impressed when her neurologist told her that her PD could be noticed only during a physical exam performed by a specialist.) She also feels much more comfortable eating with her right hand in public than she had in many years.
Mary has participated very actively in her own recovery. I taught her AIS stretches and strength-building exercises for her neck, arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet and toes, and she has continued to do these regularly at home. When she feels any pain coming back in her arm, she does the arm exercises right at that moment, and it goes away again.
In this way, I have found AIS work to be empowering for Mary and for other individuals with neurological conditions (including multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy). It is also empowering for me. It has given me the ability to help an entirely new set of clients who don't respond to the other forms of treatment I offer. I find it exciting to see more and more massage therapists and other health practitioners learning these valuable skills.
Click here for more information about Ben Benjamin, PhD.
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