Concussion Care: Combining Conventional and Alternative Treatments

Concussion Care: Combining Conventional and Alternative Treatments


When I was asked to help stand up the NICOE
we were offered the opportunity to combine conventional Western if you will medical approaches,
much of which was just becoming understood to be helpful in certain areas of traumatic
brain injury and PTSD. But we were also offered the opportunity to
try novel or out of the box sorts of approaches, many of which are considered integrative medicine
or complementary and alternative medicine. In fact, there’s an entire institute at
NIH devoted to that very area. And so we partnered with that institute and
with many other organizations nationwide to learn what did help that really wasn’t a
medication let’s say or something that you would do to a person as much as something
you would do with an individual that they could incorporate into their own lives. And it was hugely successful. It continues to be. And many of those are now approaching mainstream
use. They haven’t been entirely endorsed by insurance
companies and are often not paid for, and so there are costs effecting the whole system
of care under the circumstances that can’t be recouped. But it’s shown to work in many, many individual
cases and the data that’s being gathered at NICOE and elsewhere is accumulating such
that those very opportunities and integrating of alternative methods with the conventional
medication approach is working much better than we thought. So various types of acupuncture and there
are multiple different schools of acupuncture are shown to be useful and are called upon
as ongoing care for those very patients. It’s almost always at the top of their list
of what they found useful at a place like NICOE. The other things would be mindfulness training. How do actually change your mental frame of
mind so that you can then control your discomfort, your even impulsivity. It benefits sleep. It benefits general health. The clarity of one’s cognitive processing
and so forth. Those two examples are way at the top of the
list of the kinds of things that don’t require any kind of medication and are found to be
very useful by this population. So acupuncture is first and foremost addressing
pain. That’s what it’s really best studied to
help. And in the hands of skilled acupuncturists
has been available for centuries of course in other nations. But it’s caught on here and especially in
pain management systems. But it’s also been found to be helpful in
reducing stress, helping people sleep, helping people focus. A whole variety of additional benefits that
really weren’t part of the initial approach to acupuncture use. And so oftentimes that’s what they’re
used for now even if pain isn’t the main target.

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