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September 2005

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Chiropractors Respond to Crisis

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina came ashore on the US Gulf Coast and left a path of death, devastation and destruction that is unprecedented in recent US history.  Government emergency services and many other relief workers have begun the long job of rescue relief and restoration. People from all over the United States and the world have offered help and have shown overwhelming generosity toward those areas and people affected by the devastation.

In response to this tragedy, many chiropractors have  begun setting up facilities to help those who were displaced by this event, as well as those who will be involved in the massive aftermath and cleanup.  This scene is strikingly similar to post 9-11 efforts, when the chiropractic profession responded by setting up free clinics at the Pentagon and Ground Zero to offer care to those workers who were involved with the massive cleanup.

The picture shown here documents the efforts of one newly set up facility at one of the large centers housing displaced citizens outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This is only the beginning of what will be an ongoing and growing chiropractic relief effort at this center, and many more to come.  At this one center alone, nine Doctors of Chiropractic have initially volunteered their time to help those affected by the storm.

Dr. Butch Sonnier, was one of a group of chiropractors who set up mobile chiropractic aid stations in and around New Orleans.  He reported, "We loaded up and then traveled into the city of New Orleans where we set up shop at several staging areas for different law enforcement groups that were working the area and adjusted several hundred more. Once we were past the checkpoints and in the area, it looked like scenes from a Hollywood disaster film. By the time we were out of the New Orleans area, we estimated that we gave approximately 1000 adjustments to refugees, guardsmen and law enforcement people in one and one half days. The docs from Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana really represented our profession with passion, love and devotion. In the short 2 days we were there, no one asked for our credentials, malpractice papers or gave us a hard time. We were welcomed with open arms and thanked profusely for our efforts. Out of the 1000 or so adjustments given, we estimated that approximately 80% were first time adjustments! Once again, thanks for the prayers and well wishes."

Chiropractic's great benefit at these facilities is to help those who were either displaced or who are involved in the massive cleanup.  "Those affected by this crisis are under extreme physical and emotional stress,"  said Dr. John Maltby, President of the International Chiropractors Association, (ICA). "Chiropractic care helps these people function as best they can under these extreme circumstances."  He continued, "We (the ICA and local chiropractic groups) are working to expand the number and outreach of these chiropractic aid facilities throughout the stricken areas."

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Placebos Make People Feel Better

The above headline comes from an Associated Press story reporting on a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, August 24, 2005 issue.  The study shows scientific evidence that placebos actually stimulate brain activity to reduce pain.

A placebo is not a real medication, but rather sugar water that is given to test subjects who believe they are taking medication.  In this study funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted by researchers at Michigan's Molecular and Behavioral Neurosciences Institute, subjects believed that they were receiving pain medication.

This study involved 14 healthy men, ages 20 to 30, who were given a salt water injection that caused pain to their jaw. They were then injected with a placebo and told it was a painkiller. The subjects' brain activity, along with their responses to questions were monitored and evaluated. Although the levels varied, all nine of the subject's brains released more natural painkilling endorphins after the placebos were administered.

The results with the test subjects showed that the brain releases chemicals that relieve pain in patients who believe they're being treated with real painkillers.  Previously, many believed that the "placebo effect was only psychological in nature with no real physiological basis."  The results of this study challenges that previous belief.

Dr. Jon-Kar Zubieta, associate professor of psychiatry and radiology at the Michigan Medical School stated, "This deals another serious blow to the idea that the placebo effect is a purely psychological, with no physical basis." He concluded, "The mind-body connection is quite clear." 

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Government Accountability Office Reviews Chiropractic Availability for US Service Members

On September 6, 2005 the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a letter reporting on the US Department of Defense (DoD) implementation of chiropractic benefits to active duty military personnel.  In 2001 Congress passed the National Defense Reauthorization Act requiring the US Department of Defense to create and implement a plan to make the chiropractic benefit available to all active duty service members in the U.S. military. 

According to the GAO report they examined relevant legislation, statutes, and reports containing congressional directives to DOD for establishing and enhancing the chiropractic benefit as well as those directing earlier chiropractic demonstration projects.  The report showed that the Department of Defense has initiated implementation, but has no plans at present of making Chiropractic care available as a benefit to "all active duty service members" as required by the law.

The report did show that of the 238 military treatment facilities throughout the world, the DoD has opened only 42 chiropractic clinics.  The report also noted that of the 1.8 million active-duty service members, only 54 percent, or 969,000, live in the areas served by these military treatment facilities that now have chiropractic clinics.

Over the past several years, the demand for chiropractic care in the military has been growing.  Previous to this program, service personnel seeking chiropractic care would be forced to pay for the service themselves.  According to the report the Chiropractic facilities have been established in military treatment facilities in areas in the U.S. with large active-duty populations. The majority of the chiropractic clinics are in the Army, which has 17. The Air Force also houses 14 while the Navy maintains 11.

Although making chiropractic care available to active duty military is a good start, the report did note that a sizeable portion of the active military would not have chiropractic readily available.  Nineteen percent of active-duty service members reside in remote or overseas areas where no chiropractic will be available. However, an additional 28 percent of active-duty personnel live in areas of the U.S. served by military treatment facilities that do not have chiropractic clinics.   In response the DoD stated in a letter that military personnel residing in remote and overseas locations or in locations that are not near a military treatment facility with a chiropractic clinic can travel, if necessary, to receive the benefit,

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Chemicals Can Reach the Baby in the Womb

New research reported in the September 7, 2005 BBC-News shows that chemicals found in perfumes and cleaning products can cross the placenta and reach the baby in the womb.  In this study tests were carried out on blood samples from the umbilical cords of 27 newborn babies and 42 new mothers.  The samples were tested for eight groups of chemicals, including those found in cleaning products and non-stick and waterproof coatings.

The results showed that all of the samples tested positive for at least some of the 35 chemicals tested.  Some of the umbilical cord blood samples in the study contained as many as 14 of the chemicals, and two of the mothers tested positive for as many as 17 of the chemicals.

This study did not look at the effects of these chemicals on the health of newborns prompting some health officials in the UK to suggest that pregnant women should not be alarmed by the findings because they said there was no clear evidence that the chemicals were causing damage to unborn children.

These findings, however, do alarm many. Helen Perivier, Toxics Campaigner for Greenpeace International said: "It is shocking that such chemicals are in the human body at any stage of our life, let alone at the very start, when the child is most vulnerable."   Andrew Lee of WWF-UK said: "These chemicals should not be in products, let alone in developing babies." Mr Lee noted that it is vital for the health of future generations that the European Union propose legislation and call for a wider ban on potentially toxic chemicals. The BBC article reported that the European Union is currently in the process of revising its chemicals policy.

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Chiropractor Helps Pro Golfer Set Record

 Thomas Bjorn is a professional golfer from Denmark who made a bit of sports history at the 87th PGA Championship when he shot a round of 63 and tied the record for the lowest score in a major PGA tournament. However, this accomplishment of sports history and Bjorn's second place finish in the 2005 PGA Tournament might not have been possible without the chiropractic care Bjorn received during the practice rounds prior to the start of the tournament.

The August 15, 2005 Daily Record of New Jersey tells the story of how a local Morris County chiropractor can take at least partial credit for Thomas Bjorn's record-setting round Saturday at the PGA Championship.  Dr. Patrick Ryan was seeing patients when he received a call from a colleague in London who was the chiropractor for Bjorn. Shortly after this Bjorn, drove straight to Ryan's practice in Randolph NJ, complaining of a restriction in his neck that kept him from turning his head properly in his swing.  According to the Daily Record,  Bjorn had been forced to stop practicing after six holes prior to the tournament because of pain in his neck that affected his swing.

Dr. Ryan performed scans on Bjorn and reviewed information from his London chiropractor and came to the conclusion that Bjorn was suffering from a subluxation of the first thoracic vertebra, the point where the head and shoulders meet. This created severe muscle spasm at the base of Bjorn's neck and prevented proper rotation.

Bjorn then received an adjustment, and asked to return the next day.  On the following visit a new scan showed Bjorn's imbalance had improved from severe to mild. Bjorn reported that he felt terrific.  On Saturday, Bjorn shot a 7-under-par 63. That score tied the record for the best round of golf ever in a major tournament.  In interviews after the tournament, the Danish pro credited a new pain-free swing.

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Mental Exercise Can Keep Brain Young

Several British publications including the BBC-News reported on September 7, 2005 on information presented at the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Dublin last month showing that mental and physical exercise can help keep your brain young. 

In his presentation Ian Robertson, a professor of psychology at Trinity College in Dublin explained that those who remained physically fit, avoided high stress levels, engaged in mental stimulation by learning new things and enjoyed a rich and varied social life, as well as simply thinking young were better equipped to stay alert as they age.  He stated, "The biggest threat to being able to function well and properly is our brains. There is very strong evidence, particularly in the over-50s, that the degree to which you maintain your mental faculties depends on a handful of quite simple environmental factors."

Professor Robertson was reporting on a study by American researchers who conducted a study with 3000 men and women aged between 65 and 94 who volunteered for a mental sharpness training program.  In this study one group was given memory training, a second trained in problem-solving and reasoning, a third group was shown how to speed up problem-solving and reaction times through computer game-like exercises that became steadily more difficult.  A fourth group was used as the control group for comparison and received no training.

The study took place in 10 one-hour training classes over a six-week period. The volunteers returned 11 months later for re-evaluation and comparison.  The results showed that those who took the various training showed improved cognitive ability when compared with those who were in the control group and got no training at all.  The study further showed the ongoing benefits as four extra training sessions were given a year after the end of the original study and showed an improvement in mental abilities even further.

Robertson, reporting on the progress of those in the study noted that, "The training on average took about a decade off the cognitive age of these volunteers."  He advocated a "use it or lose it" approach. In the study the scientist stressed that the decline in mental sharpness usually seen in people over the age of 65 is not inevitable, and can be stopped or even reversed by mental exercise.

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