How NESA is Helping Veterans Combat Gulf War Illness
We were very proud of NESA’s own Lisa Conboy and Meredith St. John when they received a $1.2 million dollar grant in 2010 from the Department of Defense. The grant was awarded for a clinical trial to test acupuncture’s effectiveness against Gulf War Illness. The trials have been ongoing, and recently, the DOD came in to do a short film interview with them about their design approach and the emerging results.
The major thing to know is that Gulf War Illness has proven difficult to treat conventionally. Patients can come in with a variety of symptoms of uncertain origin. Some symptoms will outweigh others, making a blanket approach difficult, and requiring individualized treatment for each patient. Acupuncture would seem to be an ideal therapy in this case because it excels at treating complicated, multi-symptom disorders. Things like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia have many components and, like Gulf War Illness, have symptoms that can overlap or outweigh each other.
While acupuncture may be uniquely suited to fight Gulf War Illness, the trial has presented unique challenges. Language is a big component. The language of TCM is not geared towards the biomedical community and some of the terminology of diagnosis and treatment needs to be presented in a light that both sides can understand. Meredith says that the trial has been an opportunity to build bridges between disciplines to foster better collaboration and communication. Lisa points out that the prior controlled nature of acupuncture trials has been limiting and she cites the need for trials that test the “real-world” application of acupuncture in her design. The result is two arms, both receiving acupuncture at regular intervals, but in different amounts, so she can start to close in on an effective “dose”.
Despite the challenges, the rewards are becoming evident. Patients are showing a significant clinical improvement in symptoms and the outcome of the study is pointing to the direct effectiveness of acupuncture in treating Gulf War Illness. Lisa and Meredith are both excited that they will be able to report to the Army that they can endorse the application of acupuncture to Veterans in need. And we, as a community, are excited to see NESA at the forefront of such important research, and honored to be a part of serving our men and women in uniform.
You can watch the video here. And please feel free to stop in and knock on their doors if you have any questions about the study or want to learn more about Gulf War Illness.
Time for an Escape Fire
Recently, I had the chance to see the new documentary, Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare. The story of the escape fire comes from Wag Dodge, a smokejumper sent in to combat a massive forest fire in Montana in 1949. With flames closing in, and his team seeking higher ground, Wag knew they would not make it. So, instead of running, he set fire to a patch of brush at his feet. He believed that if he burned the fuel around him, the larger fire would pass him over. He urged the others to stay, but they ran and left him alone. When it was over, Wag came out almost unharmed.
The modern day healthcare system is an out-of-control blaze and we must make the choice to run or light our own escape fire and survive. As a nation, we spend $300 billion annually on pharmaceutical drugs and Americans average almost $8,000 a year on healthcare services, compared to $3,000 spent each year by individuals in the rest of the developed world. While the financial impact is huge, the larger issue is that healthcare no longer focuses on health but rather focuses on billing codes and procedures rather than improving overall health.
This documentary highlights a few experts who are courageously trying to shift the conversation away from sick care to health care. I’m proud that NESA is part of this conversation. Our clinic, our relationships with our community, and our dedicated students and faculty are all dedicated to improving healthcare, promoting wellness, and making acupuncture part of the mainstream dialogue.
Changing our current healthcare systems will take a great deal of work. That is why I encourage you to see this powerful documentary and continue advocating for acupuncture and its rightful place in healthcare.
Susan L. Gorman
President & CEO
Protect the Future of Acupuncture
It’s been awhile!
It’s been a few weeks since I last blogged as we’ve been very busy here at NESA. While I have much to share with you about the school, graduation, and our incoming class, I’d like to use this time to talk to you about an important shift that is happening:
Dry needling is a practice of using needles (acupuncture needles!) for intramuscular therapy. About a year ago, the Board of Registration of Allied Health Professionals started investigating whether dry needling is within the scope of the practice of physical therapy. They will vote on this motion on July 26, 2012.
Why should you care?
- Safety! This is the most important issue. Having physical therapists needle after only 40 hours of training is extremely dangerous. You can do damage with needles if you don’t use them appropriately.
- Quality. As people receive treatments from untrained professionals the quality of acupuncture overall will decrease.
- Reputation. As more people have neutral or unfavorable experiences with acupuncture from physical therapists, acupuncture’s reputation will suffer.
- Devaluation. Allowing physical therapists to practice after 40 hours of training devalues the education acupuncturists have invested in.
What can you do?
Complete this on-line petition now:
Rule that Dry Needling is not in the scope of practice for PTs in MA
Save this date: Thursday July 26, 2012 at 9:00 am. Please come to the next Board of Registration of Allied Health Professionals' monthly meeting when they plan on voting to allow PTs to perform acupuncture. You will not be allowed to speak but our attendance will demonstrate our unity. The address is 1000 Washington Street, Suite 710 Boston, MA.
NESA is organizing rides and car-pooling. Please contact email@example.com.
- Contact your state legislators. To find them visit http://malegislature.gov/. Write and call them; tell them about this vote and ask them to call Governor Deval Patrick, Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, Commissioner of the Department of Public Health John Auerbach and Attorney General Martha Coakley to stop this vote.
For more information please visit The Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Society of Massachusetts (AOMSM) website: http://aomsm.org/
If you can’t tell, I’m very passionate about this issue. This affects not only my care (as an acupuncture patient), but also my college. This is a fight we will keep fighting and everyone can participate - even if it is just to talk about this issue with someone else.
I am grateful for all of the kind and warm congratulations that I have received in celebration of our inaugural activities of last weekend. I am also thankful for all of you who participated in some way. Almost two hundred guests arrived to help usher in a new era of leadership and tradition for our thirty-five year old college.
Regardless of the cloudy weather, an atmosphere of warmth and cordiality carried us through the afternoon – along with a Gong Bath performed by alumna Arlene Myers ‘ 89 and Ann Balzarini as well as the traditional Dance of the Lion.
The NESA Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni and guests listened to lovely welcome messages for my presidency. A big thank you to C.J. Allen ‘99, Steve Kidder, Meagan Smith ’13, and Karen Kirchoff ’96 for their kind words of welcome. I am so grateful to the Board of Trustees for their support and that of Mrs. Isabel So’s.
The full text of my Inaugural Address can be found here. My words are based on the many conversations I’ve had with faculty, staff, alumni - and especially the students. This speech is just the beginning of the discussion of “What are we going to do in our time?” and “Where will NESA be in 10, 20, 30 years”?
I also shared my vision for “Building Bridges” in areas of innovation and research, partnership creation, acceptance of our profession, and longer-term sustainability. My visions are big; we will need courage, strength and risk-taking in order to achieve them. I promise to provide as much communication as possible as we venture forward. I also appreciate your thoughts and look forward to continuing the conversation with you in the coming weeks and months.
We have much to be grateful for - for our past and for our future. I am confident that with the help and commitment of our solid community of alumni, students, faculty and staff - we can inspire the future - together!
Welcome to My First Blog!
May is my favorite month of the year. Flowers start to bloom, landscapes become plush, lush and green, students graduate and go off to their new careers, and well, its my birthday month! In short, I love May because it’s a time of renewal.
It occurs to me that I had my own renewal at NESA. I have been at NESA for almost three years. At first, I got to know the community in small bursts. I would meet a few students here, attend a staff meeting there, and run into alumni at various events. Then, I started getting regular acupuncture treatments - both Japanese and Chinese. I even decided to try herbs (now I am hooked). It did not take much - within a short amount of time, I fell in love with everything NESA.
Given my passion for the school and our mission, I am honored to serve as President. While there are many things to do, my immediate focus includes:
- Renewing community connections with students, faculty, administration, alumni, partners, and other supporters
- Renewing our commitment to be a leading acupuncture school
- Renewing our dedication to acupuncture research
- Reinvigorating the progression of the profession
We have started working to meet these goals. I have hosted several alumni events (regional outings and Connections), held Town Hall Meetings, visited other schools to promote NESA and TCM, visited with healthcare providers to flush out opportunities for students and graduates, and made some changes to the facility to improve the experience on campus. This is just the beginning of many activities you can expect in the future.
Please join me in renewing our commitment and energy to NESA. My team and I have many ideas, but we’d love to hear from you and incorporate your ideas as well. Contact me either by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (617) 558-1788 x 374.
Together we will build the leading college of acupuncture in the USA!
P.S. You can expect to hear from me in this blog twice a month. Stay tuned!