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Battlefield acupuncture is helping soldiers heal from wounds physical and mental.

It’s popular at "Camp Leatherneck:"

”Battlefield acupuncture”, developed by an air force physician, Colonel Richard Niemtzow, is helping heal soldiers with concussions so they can return more quickly to the front.

At Camp Leatherneck, a huge Marine Corps base in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province, a military doctor’s consulting room has dim little Christmas lights arranged across the ceiling and new age music playing.

Commander Keith Stuessi asks his patients to relax in his darkened chamber and then gently inserts hair-thin needles. He uses acupuncture to treat concussions, also known as mild brain trauma. ”I’m seeing pretty incredible results,” said Commander Stuessi. ”In my heart I think this will, down the road, become one of the standards of care.”

Homemade bombs called improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, are the leading killer of coalition soldiers in the Afghan war. Even those without visible injury, but who were close to a blast, can feel the pressure wave from the explosion rush through their bodies. A concussion is caused by the pressure wave travelling through the brain, without anything necessarily hitting the head.

Some are knocked unconscious and ruptured eardrums are common. Even those who don’t black out can have the same debilitating after-effects: dizziness, loss of balance, ringing in the ear, crushing insomnia, an aversion to light and a pounding headache. It typically takes two weeks to recover from the concussion, Commander Stuessi said.


Scientific studies on acupuncture have not been able to prove its effectiveness. But Commander Stuessi isn’t alone in using it in the US military. The navy alone has now trained about 50 doctors in acupuncture, he said. The air force, for instance, uses the technique to dampen the pain on the long flights for evacuating wounded soldiers back to the US.

Commander Stuessi thought it worked by adjusting the ”neural pathways” in the body. ”It’s like rewiring a computer; you’re hitting certain nerves in the body. So instead of sending up a pain signal to the brain, they send up a signal saying everything’s OK. It’s almost like faking out the brain.”

The National Institutes of Health is examining acupuncture as a means of speeding recovery for soldiers. Last week in Washington, Defence Department personnel met researchers and members of the Institutes of Health’s National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine to discuss the military’s continued exploration of acupuncture.

Telemedicine raises many legal issues as each state has its own telemedicine laws and those telemedicine laws often require telemedicine attorneys to look at the legal rules of both the state where the doctor is located and the state where the patient is located. State telemedicine laws also apply when doctors are treating patients overseas.  Telemedicine practice is heating up:

Telemedicine enables Gosman to monitor patients for weeks, months and years after an operation. Sometimes, Gosman even conducts surgeries remotely by talking an on-site physician through a procedure…..

"This is a health care option that bridges the doctor-patient geographical separation," Department of Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo tole the Bulletin. "Doctors can make decisions and recommendations on a patient’s condition faster through telemedicine."

The technology is also revolutionizing health care in the United States.

The U.S.D.A. announced plans in January to award 45 grants to help medical institutions install teleconferencing equipment…."Using video and state-of-the-art scanners, the first will allow Massachusetts General neurologists to diagnose potential stroke patients," reporter Lindsay Tice wrote. "The second program allows Massachusetts General neurologists to diagnose and advise in the treatment of patients with other neurological emergencies such as ongoing seizures or sudden paralysis."

Irish medical institutions have courses now about CAM:



Homeopathy essentially involves the prescription of water in minute doses for a wide range of conditions from the common cold to infertility problems and a myriad of childhood illnesses. Among its more dangerous practices is the prescription of homeopathic vaccines that contain no active ingredient and that consequently provide no protection to patients.

Reiki practitioners and bioenergy therapists claim that the body is surrounded by esoteric energy fields, which can be manipulated by movements of the therapist’s hands in such a way as to influence the health of the body and mind of the patient. In reality, these energy fields exist only in the minds of the therapists. “Second degree” Reiki practitioners even claim to be able to heal at a distance with the use of magical symbols.

Reflexologists claim that the organs of the body are represented in the soles of the feet and that diagnosis and healing can be carried out by the application of pressure at appropriate points. There is no evidence whatever to support such claims.

The Graduate Certificate in Healthcare (Acupuncture) at UCD is aimed at those with a primary degree in health care, eg medicine or physiotherapy. This is a part-time course delivered over one year. The programme “provides education in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that will equip the healthcare professional with the necessary skills to assess and treat a broad range of acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions”.

It is not possible to ascertain the specific contents of this course from the information on the website, but TCM is TCM and I believe it is fair to assume that the fundamental premises will differ little from those being taught on the BSc Honours degree in TCM at Middlesex University. The content of this course and others has been detailed and devastatingly critiqued by David Colquhoun Prof of Biochemistry at University College London. (See

Acupuncture practitioners presume that the body is traversed by esoteric mystical energy lines known as meridians. These are said to facilitate the passage of qi (the mystical energy) and it is thought that these passage ways can become blocked resulting in imbalances that may cause a range of physical symptoms. The insertion of acupuncture needles is thought to alter the flow of qi and to effectively treat a vast range of conditions.


For those interested in acupuncture laws and legal issues, just search this blog for acupuncture and you’ll find articles on legal topics ranging from acupuncture credentialing to scope of practice, malpractice and negligence, and other areas of law.


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