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The Modern Acupuncturist
You studied ancient Chinese medicine, but I'll bet you don't practice it! Contrary to popular belief, our medicine has evolved A LOT over the years. Let's take a brief walk through history and discover the differences between ancient and modern acupuncturists.
First Do No Harm?
There's no questioning the frightening nature of breast cancer, which strikes one in eight women in the U.S. – eclipsed only by skin cancer in terms of prevalence.
Our Biggest Challenges to Compete in Wellness Care
In the first article in this four-article series [May 1 DC], I made the case that chiropractors should either embrace offering lifestyle wellness in their practices or face the possibility of losing their place in the wellness care marketplace.
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
The Nectar of Plants: Essential Oils and Chinese Medicine
Essential oils are a very hot topic these days, especially with the likes of the Ebola virus and the resurgence of measles lurking in our awareness, but when I first became interested in Chinese medicine, essential oils weren't on the radar screen for acupuncturists.
TMF 2015 Scholarships
The Trudy McAlister Foundation (TMF), a nonprofit organization established to support students who are on track to make contributions either to clinical practice and/or to the understanding of the role of Traditional Oriental Medicine, has announced the 2015 scholarship recipients.
We Get Letters & Email
A House Divided? (May 1 issue) provoked significant response from readers. Here are several of the surprisingly similar comments we received.
A Poor Choice for Pain Relief
Acetaminophen is the most popular pain reliever in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 27 billion annual doses as of 2009. With 100,000-plus hospital visits a year by users, it's also the most likely to be taken inappropriately.
Reducing the Autogenic Inhibition Reflex: Making Weak Muscles Strong
The autogenic inhibition (AI) reflex is a sudden relaxation of a muscle in response to excess tension.
Professional Credentialing and Board Certification: An Ethical Faux Pas
Because of the Affordable Care Act, health care systems are coordinating care through accountable care organizations (ACOs) in order to reduce the cost of care and improve quality of care.
Use Technology to Gain New Patients and Improve Efficiency
From the smartphone in your pocket to your microwave oven, advancements in technology have made almost every aspect of our lives easier.
The Year to Make Things Happen
It is hard to believe that the Year of the Ram – 2015 is half over. Time seems to be moving especially fast. This is the year for things to happen for the acupuncture profession.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 2)
As we noted in our previous article, with a positive Derifield (+D), the doctor observes the reactive (shorter) leg in the prone position that becomes longer or "crosses over" in the flexed position.
Breath: The Movement of Oxygen and Energy
I remember with surprising clarity the first time a patient started crying during an acupuncture treatment I was giving. This is now quite a long time ago, back in 1999, when I was a student.
Rethinking Musculoskeletal Pain – A Public Health Perspective
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the world's oldest and largest association of its kind, founded more than 140 years ago and boasting over 25,000 members.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 2
A talented young woman presented herself with emotional mood swings, which included being nervous, anxious and jittery.
Calculating Billable Units
I recently learned of an office that was audited based on the number of acupuncture sessions performed in one day. Is there a maximum number of sessions that can be performed in one day?
What Does Success Mean to You?
Recently, I was asked to speak to young, budding businesswomen about running a successful business — and at first I thought, "Me? You want me to speak to others about success?!"
How One Little Symbol (#) Gets You More Patients
Are you struggling to get more fans or followers for your acupuncture practice? Or are looking for ways to simply connect with your patients? Or do you just want to know how to keep them engaged (comments, retweeting, liking and sharing)?
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients, in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2 to 4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
ACA or ICA: Which Best Represents You?
Last June, I was honored to represent Texas ICA members as their representative assemblyman at the ICA Annual Meeting in Kansas City.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2-4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
Acupuncture and the Pulse
In 1991, I attended a martial arts workshop hosted coincidentally by Sung Baek, a martial artist and the head of his lineage as a Korean trained acupuncturist. I was enamored by the details Sung could attain from the pulse, as told to me by some of his apprentices.
The Source-Luo Point Combination
The luo collaterals are part of the acupuncture channel system presented in the Su Wen and the Ling Shu (The Nei Jing). The function and clinical application of the luo mai are primarily presented in chapter 10 of the Ling Shu, however, they are also found in others chapters in the Su Wen and the Ling Shu.
Spieth Thanks His Chiropractor After Historic Masters Win
Jordan Spieth didn't just capture the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide with his record-setting, wire-to-wire victory at the 79th Masters Tournament.
August, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 08
Study Finds Massage Therapy Supports Senior Health
By Massage Therapy Foundation Contributor
Contributed by Beth Barberree, RMT, BA; Jolie Haun, PhD EdS, LMT, April Neufeld, BS, LMP
Do you ever wonder who will help keep your body moving around safely as you get older? According to JoEllen Sefton and fellow researchers, massage therapists could be key players in maintaining health of older persons, particularly postural control.This month's Massage Therapy Foundation article outlines the findings of Sefton's study that explored the effects of therapeutic massage on balance, neurological and cardiovascular outcomes in older adults. The results of this study were published in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork in 2012, and it is the second of a two-part study conducted collaboratively by researchers at Auburn University and Samford University in Alabama.
The risk of falling is a major health concern for older people. Falls in the elderly population impact personal health, affecting patients physically and psychologically and often result in significant healthcare and rehabilitation costs. Decreased mobility due to falls can lead to loss of vitality and increased morbidity.
Sefton and colleagues wanted to explore whether therapeutic massage could restore muscle balance and function, improve appropriate muscle activation, decrease spasms, correct postural imbalances or improve gait and movement confidence. They hypothesized that therapeutic massage would produce an immediate increase in instability, then improve postural stability and decrease cardiovascular measures over time, and improve long-term stability and cardiovascular functioning. Positive changes in these measures may improve confidence and allow for increased independence in older individuals.
The study was conducted in the lab with 35 adults ranging in age from 50 to 69 years old. Participants were excluded if they reported any chronic diseases or medications that would affect the study's physiological measures. Participants were then randomized to the therapeutic massage treatment group or relaxation control group. The treatment group received six weekly 60-minute full-body massages that followed a standardized protocol, but left some flexibility for the massage therapists to respond to individual patient needs. The relaxation control group rested quietly in the treatment room for 60 minutes.
A number of assessments were conducted on both the therapeutic massage and control groups to test the study hypotheses. Static and functional balance were tested with the participants on one and both feet, and with eyes open and closed. Neurologically, motor neuron pool excitability, activation and modulation at the soleus muscle were assessed. Heart rate and blood pressure were recorded as the cardiovascular measures.
Immediate Treatment Effects
Assessments of postural control and cardiovascular measures were completed before the treatment, and then immediately after, 20 minutes after and 60 minutes post-treatment. Nervous system measures were completed pre-treatment and then 60 minutes post-treatment. The purpose of these tests was to determine whether the therapeutic massage intervention produced increased instability for participants immediately after.
The results replicated the researchers' earlier findings showing that instability did not increase immediately after therapeutic massage. This implies that current cautionary measures implemented for our clients are likely sufficient and should be continued, although some sensitivity with clients who have special circumstances will always occur. Interestingly, the results did not support previous studies that showed therapeutic massage to decrease cardiovascular measures immediately following treatment.
Week Six Short Term Effects
To determine differences that occur during the 60 minutes after a therapeutic massage intervention, balance and cardiovascular measures were assessed immediately post-therapeutic massage to 60 minutes post-therapeutic massage. The results of the balance and postural control measures together suggest an increase in postural stability through the 60-minute period following therapeutic massage when compared to the control group.
Nervous system measures were taken pre- and 60 minutes post-therapeutic massage only. The results again echo the researchers' earlier work, finding that when compared to only one session of therapeutic massage, an additional six weeks of treatment did not produce better performance on the assessments for the nervous system. The researchers speculated this may be due to decreased fatigue that would occur during each therapeutic massage application.
Cardiovascular measures indicated a trend of decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure from immediate to 60 minutes post-treatment in the treatment group compared to the control. No changes in heart rate were found, and studies thus far have reported conflicting results. This led the researchers to recommend additional research on the mechanisms affecting cardiovascular measures and blood flow.
Long Term Effects
So, what was found one week after the last therapeutic massage session? The long-term treatment effects were assessed by comparing the therapeutic massage and control groups on balance, nervous system and cardiovascular measures pre-treatment at week six with those obtained at the follow-up testing session at week seven. The researchers found some effects to be fairly robust.
Assessment of balance at week six indicated no significant differences between the treatment and control groups. However, by week seven, testing showed significant differences between the therapeutic massage and control groups. This indicates that the treatment group had an improved ability to maintain balance at week seven.
No long term nervous system differences were found between the treatment and control groups, but the authors note there may be some methodological considerations that could be addressed in future work. With respect to cardiovascular effects, although there were no significant differences at week six, there were lower systolic blood pressures in the treatment group by week seven. No differences in diastolic blood pressure were found. Heart rate was higher for the treatment group at week six, but then by week seven, no differences were found when compared to the control group.
The researchers made a couple of observations about the study design that may have impacted research outcomes. First, participants were all healthy older adults who could be considered "young old," rather than "old old." Second, results may differ in individuals experiencing conditions common with aging such as osteoarthritis, high blood pressure or diabetes. The researchers also identified some limitations that should be considered when interpreting the findings, specifically that the participants self-selected to join the study. To account for these potential confounding elements, the team recommended a larger study in the future to include a wider range of participants.
As massage therapists see more clients who are aging, it becomes increasingly important to know how to appropriately care for them, and manage the instability that may occur when they get up off the treatment table. Understanding the physiological changes in the client, both immediately and over time, can equip us with information needed to provide good home care instruction.
The results reported by Sefton and colleagues indicate that therapeutic massage could be a beneficial non-pharmaceutical option to improve blood pressure and postural stability in older adults, short and long-term. These findings have implications for practice and policy, from the treatment room to reimbursement. The true impact of research such as Sefton's will come from replication and dissemination of findings and continued efforts to use research evidence to inform practice guidelines and standards of care.
To learn more about therapeutic massage and associated outcomes, you can review the Massage Therapy Foundation article archives, read accepted MTF Research Grant abstracts, or search Pub Med for massage outcomes studies.
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