resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
The Science of Stretching
In 1986, Rob DeCastella set a course record by running the Boston Marathon in 2:07:51, just 39 seconds off the world record.
Why You Should Include the Single-Leg Stance Test in Every Patient Assessment
The single-leg stance (SLS) test, also known as the single-limb stance test, unipedal stance test or one-legged stance / balance test, is often used in the geriatric population to assess static postural and balance control.
Fibromyalgia: Put the Pain in Its Place
While some fibromyalgia patients respond favorably to regular chiropractic care, others experience minimal relief. Unfortunately, many of these patients must rely on pharmacological management to relieve their constant pain.
Medical Qigong for the Heart: Part III
Part 1 and Part II of this series focused on the physical aspect of the Heart and mental emotional aspects of the Heart respectively. Now, I would like to focus on the spiritual aspect of the Heart.
Are You a Bad Chiropractic Patient?
My father was a great DC. In fact, as you might expect, he was the doctor of chiropractic I measured all other doctors against. Sadly, he died at age 61 when I was in my early 30s.
Knee Pain From the Kinetic Chain
As practitioners of manual medicine, chiropractors often treat patients suffering from knee pain.
New Medical Technologies You Need to Know
We're all familiar with how fast computers become obsolete, as well as the rapid pace of development in the field of cell phone technology. The latest smart phones are far more powerful than desktop computers were only a few years ago.
A Chinese Medicine Story: An Interview with Mazin Al-Khafaji
Mazin Al-Khafaji's work has interested me for years. In February 2014, we invited him for the second time to speak at the Southwest Symposium in Austin, Texas.
Coding for the Subluxation: ICD-9 vs. ICD-10
When I attended chiropractic school, I was taught that chiropractors approach health care differently than the traditional medical establishment.
Curbing Label Overwhelm
For the average consumer, reading a food package can be overwhelming: natural, organic, non-GMO, gluten free, free range ... you get the picture.
Building From the Bottom Up
I caught up with my dear friend Honora Wolfe, in her Colorado painting studio where, if she is not praying in Bhutan or doing charitable work in a Nepali free clinic, she spends most of her time now.
A History Worth Telling
The popularity and the use of acupuncture for the treatment of animals in the United States is at its peak.
By the Numbers: 3 Common Financial Mistakes With Major Consequences
Warren Buffett is on record for sharing the hidden art of becoming wealthy and making it simple enough for anyone to grasp.
Immunizations by Colorado DCs: Really?
You probably didn't hear about it, but back on Nov. 21, 2013, the Board of Directors of the Colorado Chiropractic Association (CCA) adopted "immunization authority" for Colorado DCs as its No. 2 legislative goal.
Physical Exam 101: The Hands
I am sure you are familiar with the old adage: "When the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail."
Vaccines and Chiropractic: Evidence-Based Medicine or Medical Dogma?
Right or wrong, the chiropractic profession has historically been against vaccinations. However, a growing trend within the profession is seeking to reverse this position.
Remembering Clarence Gonstead and 50 Years of the Gonstead Clinic
Dr. Clarence Selmer Gonstead (1898-1978) took chiropractic practice from back-alley bone setting to an understandable biomechanical science. His life was dedicated to clinical competency.
Finders Keepers: The Secret to Relationship-Based Marketing
Becoming a successful practitioner has less to do with what you learned in school, and more to do with your ability to find new patients and keep them!
Peer Points: Always Seeking To Grow
Ellen "Kiki" Geary has spent the last decade honing her craft. As a specialist in integrative holistic care, she went straight from completing her master's degree in acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine from Bastyr University to building a successful and thriving practice in the small community of Anacortes, Washington.
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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