resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
A Glimpse Into China's Top Brain Hospital
The sounds of the city pass through the open window are overwhelming the microphone - car horns, construction machinery - and then there's the family at the adjacent bed talking loudly on cell phones, yet you can still hear the faint beep of our patients monitoring equipment.
A Commonly Missed Spinal Fixation: The Upper Lumbar Spine (Part 1)
When we think of lower back pain, we tend to think in terms of the lower lumbar spine and the SI joint. These joints and their discs are obviously important. However, we tend to miss fixations that occur just above – in the upper lumbar spine. Three questions come to mind: 1) Why is the upper lumbar spine so important? 2) Why do we miss the fixations here? 3) How can we adjust them?
When Big Pharma Meets Chinese Medicine
Earlier this year, Bayer made a media splash with their decision to buy the Dihon Pharmaceutical Group Co., a Chinese TCM manufacturer.
Thoughts to Live By
When speaking to your patients about their health make sure to ponder the following points and have them assess if they are making themselves even more sick by the thoughts they have about life. Are these some of the traits and thoughts that your patients might have?
Get Ready For AOM Day
This year, AOM Day 2014 falls on Friday, (October 24th). This is a great opportunity to make your AOM Day celebration or event even bigger by extending it throughout the weekend!
History of Animal Acupuncture: Part II
In Part I of this article, I had gone back to 1969 and tried to describe the atmosphere and events of that year that engulfed many of the younger generation, some who were all the core members of the National Acupuncture Association.
The Spirit of the Point
After receiving a large amount of positive feedback on my San Zhen Protocols series, I have decided to focus this article on some relevant clinical aspects of acupuncture therapy prior to moving on to San Zhen Protocols III.
Help Secure Our Future by Sharing It
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) conducts one of the most comprehensive surveys of the U.S. chiropractic profession every 4-5 years.
The Science Behind Happiness
Are you happy right now? Whether yes or no, there are a myriad of reasons why you feel that way. A whole academic discipline has developed to find out what causes or obstructs happiness, and how to amplify it.
Let the Patient Tell Their Story
Often when a patient presents with an injury, they want to tell their story. People by nature like to talk about themselves, particularly when they're worried about their health.
The Truth About Herbs
I appreciate the effort and research put into the article written in the June issue of Acupuncture Today regarding pesticides and Chinese herbs.
Uncle Sam Needs You
Scrutiny into the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) continues to grow after efforts to reform the DVA by the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, were deemed "a stunning period of dysfunction" by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
A Healthy Dose of Failure is Vital to Your Success
As an acupuncturist I tend to see people after they have already suffered for years and "tried everything." They are so desperate for some relief that they want to know everything about how to get better, right now.
Improving Our Political Effectiveness
The November 2014 elections are right around the corner; members of Congress, governors and state legislators are all running. Now is a good time to talk frankly about our overall political involvement.
Medicalization and Mindfulness
The past several years have seen a veritable explosion of research on mindfulness. Research abstracts we've published in each issue of Health Insights Today under the heading "Mind-Body News" have increasingly reported on studies about mindfulness interventions.
The Problem With Prolonged Sitting
We need to constantly talk to our patients about spending less time sitting and about what can go wrong with poor sitting postures. The fact is we sit too long in repetitive malpositions.
If You Get a Request for Records, Respond!
In our previous two articles, we discussed two of the main reasons for denial when chiropractic records are reviewed by Medicare contractors.
Rethinking GMO: Less Panic, More Context
Some of you may have noticed that after writing parts 1 and 2 of “Genetic Modification of Organisms for Human Consumption” a while back [Nov. 15, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014 issues], part 3 never appeared.
Healing Community Trauma in Israel and Palestine
It's the beginning of August and Israel and Hamas have just agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire after a month of brutal fighting. In the last four weeks, 1,830 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed.
MPA Media Wins Seven Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Acupuncture Today, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecendented seven publishing awards by the ASBPE, the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
June, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 06
Models and Evidence-Bases
By Keith Eric Grant, PhD, NCTMB
The techniques we use as massage therapists are increasingly coming under scrutiny and review. To an extent, this is part of a general movement in health care to review both the effectiveness of interventions and to compare what is actually done in practice with what accumulated evidence suggests would be the "best course".Two reports from the Institute of Medicine out this year underline this review: "Clinical Practice Guidelines We Can Trust" and "Finding What Works in Health Care: Standards for Systematic Reviews". The motivation from this introspection was noted by Joseph Padula in his blog "Managed Care Matters" — even many medical guidelines have had little or no solid evidence behind them, often resulting in less than optimal treatment.
In part also, the scrutiny of massage techniques and conceptual models behind the techniques stems from a cohort of massage educators looking to frame a more sound basis for massage therapy as a component of health care and to bring what's being taught into agreement with modern knowledge of anatomy and physiology. This has turned into an ongoing, international discussion across multiple social media: Facebook, Twitter, and ABMP's "Massage Professionals" forums, in particular.
Looking at evidence requires asking two types of questions; questions that I believe are separable. First, are there specific conditions for which we have evidence that massage techniques provide an effective treatment or co-treatment? If so, what can we say about the reliability of the evidence? Is it supported by research in addition to anecdotal (narrative) observations? In the best of possible worlds, we would like research and anecdote to reinforce each other and add to our insights. Enkin and Jadad provide a context for this delicate process of integrating experience and research.
Those who really follow the principles of evidence-based health care, "the conscientious and judicious use of current best evidence from clinical care research to guide health care decisions," understand that conscientious and judicious use does not mean blind adherence. They are making efforts to integrate research evidence with other types of information, values, preferences, resources and circumstances. Enkin and Jadad also caution about the interplay of belief with anecdotal "evidence," especially when anecdotes and research disagree, leaving the clinical practitioner to face a paradox.
Despite its low ranking in the evidence hierarchy, anecdotal information exerts a disproportionately powerful influence on clinical thinking and behavior. The paradox was well described by William Asher: "If you can believe fervently in your treatment, even though controlled tests show that it is quite useless, then your results are much better, your patients are much better, and your income is much better too... It is an almost insoluble problem, and the majority of worth-while doctors are driven to a compromise in which they muster enough genuine belief in their treatment to keep their patients happy and maintain their own respect, while preserving enough doubt to admit their inadequacy during transient bouts of uncomfortable honesty."
It's in trying to resolve the interplay between research and clinical anecdotes that we find the second kind of question. Do we have an explanation for the effectiveness of our techniques that doesn't violate laws of physics and is in accord with modern knowledge of anatomy, physiology and neurology? I explicitly add neurology because our body is not just physical. Our brain does an amazing computational feat in taking the myriad of sensory signals as input and providing us with a body sense as output. This second type of question brings us into the realm of conceptual models or maps for the actions of our techniques. Any such model is an approximation of reality. We can further subdivide questions about such a map into: "Is it useful?" and "Is it a correct approximation?"
Gregory Bateson, in "Form, Substance and Difference," from Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972), elucidates the essential impossibility of knowing what the territory is, as any understanding of it is based on some representation: "We say the map is different from the territory. But what is the territory? Operationally, somebody went out with a retina or a measuring stick and made representations which were then put on paper. What is on the paper map is a representation of what was in the retinal representation of the man who made the map; and as you push the question back, what you find is an infinite regress, an infinite series of maps. The territory never gets in at all. [...] Always, the process of representation will filter it out so that the mental world is only maps of maps, ad infinitum."
Elsewhere in that same volume, Bateson points out that the usefulness of a map (a representation of reality) is not necessarily a matter of its literal truthfulness, but its having a structure analogous, for the purpose at hand, to the territory. Bateson argues this case at some length in the essay "The Theology of Alcoholics Anonymous."
To paraphrase Bateson's argument, a culture that believes that common colds are transmitted by evil spirits, that those spirits fly out of you when you sneeze, can pass from one person to another when they are inhaled or when both handle the same objects, etc., could have just as effective a "map" for public health as one that substituted microbes for spirits. While treatments of the individual would differ between the two models, actions such as isolation and quarantining would not.
Our challenge as a health care profession in the modern world comes in the way we address these questions, identifying areas needing research, filtering out disproved myths and ensuring the transfer of knowledge into practice.
Click here for previous articles by Keith Eric Grant, PhD, NCTMB.
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