December 2008



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Chiropractic and Other Complementary and Alternative Care for Children Rapidly Increasing

On December 1, 2008 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a clinical report on the use of what they call "complementary and alternative medicine" (CAM) in children. This report was published in the December issue of the AAP journal, Pediatrics.  Dr. Kathi J. Kemper, MD, and her colleagues from the Task Force on Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Provisional Section on Complementary, Holistic, and Integrative Medicine, clarifies CAM by noting, "The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines...CAM as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional Western medicine."

In the abstract of the published report, the AAP noted, "The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes the increasing use of complementary and alternative medicine in children and, as a result, the need to provide information and support for pediatricians." In response to the increased usage, the AAP formed the, "Task Force on Complementary and Alternative Medicine to address issues related to the use of complementary and alternative medicine in children and to develop resources to educate physicians, patients, and families."

Although a good portion of the chiropractic profession would not use the term CAM to describe chiropractic, the AAP study did note that chiropractic was probably the most well used CAM by children. The report stated, "Chiropractic care is one of the most common professionally provided CAM practices. It focuses on the relationship between body structure (primarily that of the spine) and bodily function and how that relationship affects health. With more than 50,000 chiropractors licensed in the United States, the number of children visiting chiropractors is substantial and increasing. Recent studies have confirmed that up to 14% of all chiropractic visits were for pediatric patients and that chiropractors were the most common CAM providers visited by children and adolescents."

The author's conclusion suggests that there may be an increase in cooperation and referrals from pediatricians to chiropractors. They concluded, "Pediatricians and other clinicians who care for children have the responsibility to advise and counsel patients and families about relevant, safe, effective, and age-appropriate health services and therapies regardless of whether they are considered mainstream or CAM."

The increased usage of chiropractic and other forms of non-medical care is not much of a surprise to the chiropractic profession. “This new study shows what we in chiropractic have been seeing in our offices. People are turning toward more natural forms of healthcare such as chiropractic,” stated Dr. John Maltby, President of the International Chiropractors Association. Dr. Maltby continued, “This study especially points out the increased usage of chiropractic in the care of children. And as the study points out this care is not only for the chronically ill, but also is playing a growing role in wellness care for children.”



Happiness Is Contagious

Recent research from Harvard Medical School and the University of California, San Diego, reported by several news outlets including WebMD on December 4, 2008, and the Chicago Tribune on December 5th, showed that your happiness can influence the happiness of someone you have never met. The original study was published in the December 4, 2008 issue of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and was conducted to evaluate whether happiness can spread from person to person.

The study suggests that happiness is transmitted through social networks. The study results note that, "people who are surrounded by many happy people and those who are central in the network are more likely to become happy in the future."

Coauthor, Dr. James H Fowler, associate professor Department of Political Science, University of California, San Diego, stated in the WebMD article, "We have known for a long time that there is a direct relationship between one person's happiness and another's. But this study shows that indirect relationships also affect happiness. We found a statistical relationship not just between your happiness and your friends' happiness, but between your happiness and your friends' friends' friends' happiness."

The results of the study shows that this happiness transfer extends to the third degree. This means that the happiness of an immediate social contact, called "first degree" increased an individual's chances of becoming happy by 15%.    The happiness of a "second-degree contact", for example the spouse of a friend, increases the likeliness of becoming happy by 10%. And researchers showed that even the happiness of a third-degree contact, such as the friend of a friend of a friend, will increase the likelihood of becoming happy by 6%.

Coauthor, Dr. Nicholas A Christakis, professor Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, and Department of Sociology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, tried to explain the results by saying, "If you imagine the fabric of humanity as a patchwork quilt, it turns out if you're happy or not depends on if you're in a happy or unhappy patch."

Dr. Fowler further explained in the WebMD article, "We need to think of happiness as a collective phenomenon. If I come home in a bad mood, I may be missing an opportunity to make not just my wife and son happy, but their friends.

The author's conclusion as published in the British Medical Journal clearly stated the effect that one person has on others when they concluded, "People’s happiness depends on the happiness of others with whom they are connected. This provides further justification for seeing happiness, like health, as a collective phenomenon."



Guidelines for Pushing Strollers Promotes Child Safety

The above headline is from a December 5, 2008 release from the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress and published by Market Watch. With increased utilization of jogging strollers, baby carriers, and bike trailers, the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress is stressing the importance of safe practices to protect children from spinal cord injuries.

Dr. Gerard W. Clum, president of Life Chiropractic College West and spokesperson for the Foundation warned, "About 11,000 people suffer from spinal cord injuries annually, and developing children are particularly vulnerable. Parents should always be aware of how a device positions a child's neck or spine, and follow the manufacturer's safety instructions when using a stroller or comparable equipment."

Dr. Scott Bautch, a chiropractor and past president of the American Chiropractic Council of Occupational Health added, "The cervical spine of a child less than one year old is not fully developed, and it is important that the child's head not bob around during any activity. Backpacks are less than ideal because they do not allow parents to watch the child's head and ensure stability. A front-side carrier is preferable for a very young child."

Dr. Bautch also noted, "When lifting children to place them into a trailer or jogger, exercise caution.  Don't bend from the waist, stay as close to the car seat or trailer as possible, and place the child into the carrier without reaching, stretching, or twisting. The further the child is from one's body, the greater the strain on the spine."

The Foundation had several recommendations to enhance safety. These include, making sure the child is always properly secured in the device, and when choosing the proper device, parents should consider the size, weight, and age of the child to make sure it is appropriate for the activity.

The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress, www.yes2chiropractic.org,  is a not for profit organization providing education and awareness about the benefits of chiropractic care.



Drug Companies Circumvent Law by Placing Drug Ads on YouTube

Several articles in various publications have reported on the nonprofit consumer group Prescription Project, which has raised the alarm about drug companies that are getting around laws designed to protect consumers by placing drug ads directly on YouTube. One such article appeared in the December 4, 2008 issue of the Wall Street Journal. This article starts off by reporting, "Ads on video Web site YouTube for medical devices sold by Abbott Laboratories, Medtronic Inc. and Stryker Corp. violate federal rules because they don't contain required warnings and disclosures, according to an advocacy group."

Allan Coukell, director of policy for the Prescription Project, stated,  "Whether through a TV ad or an Internet video, the promotion of a medical device for use in complex surgery without adequate warnings is a blatant violation of the law and could put lives at risk. The videos raise serious questions about whether drug and device companies are using the Internet to skirt laws that safeguard consumers."

On December 3, 2008 the group, Prescription Project, gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) petitions requesting the removal of six YouTube videos that do not include disclaimers. Prescription Project has asked FDA regulators to order drug companies that are not listing side effects in their videos to remove the advertisements from the Web. They have also asked the FDA to issue regulations requiring online ads to be subject to the same standards as television ads.

In response to the negative publicity, several of the drug companies have said that they will be removing the ads from the Internet. One company, Medtronic, who produces an artificial spinal disc suggested that they did not put the ad for their product online and said that the ad may have been posted online by "third parties", yet they said that the ad has been removed. 

Another company named in the petition was Abbott Laboratories, makers of Xience, their best-selling drug-coated stent. In defense the company said that the online ad had links to the risks and safety information. Abbott Laboratories spokesman Scott Stoffel commented, "Abbott's practice is to comply with all regulatory requirements and to provide patients and consumers with accurate and complete product information."

According to their website the Prescription Project, "seeks to eliminate conflicts of interest created by industry marketing by promoting policy change among academic medical centers, professional medical societies and public and private payers."



Pet Chiropractors Catching on in Minnesota

The above is a headline from the December 1, 2008 issue of the online TwinCities.com from Minnesota. This article notes that more people in Minnesota are bringing their animals to chiropractors for spinal adjustments. In fact Minnesota has recently passed a law that specifically adds the care of animals to the chiropractic scope of practice.

According to the state law, "A licensed chiropractor may engage in the practice of animal chiropractic diagnosis and treatment if registered to do so by the board and the animal has been referred to the chiropractor by a veterinarian." The law specifically defines animal chiropractic as, "Animal chiropractic diagnosis and treatment, means treatment that includes identifying and resolving vertebral subluxation complexes, spinal manipulation, and manipulation of the extremity articulations of nonhuman vertebrates." A Doctor of Chiropractic is required to take an additional 210 hours of animal training and register with the state board in order to practice on animals.

The story notes that the demand is there.  David Kunz, director of government relations for the Minnesota Chiropractic Association, stated, "There are 5 million animals in Minnesota who could use chiropractic care." Even Dr. Tom Hagerty, spokesman for the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association, who seemed a little reluctant about animal chiropractic had to concede, "We as veterinarians have as much misgivings about it as the human medical community," he said. "But if those people feel they have been helped, more power to them. The folks who have done that believe there is a value." 

The article also reported on several people who brought their animals to chiropractors and experienced dramatic results. One such believer is Rhonda Hickle of Rush City. She stated, "As far as I am concerned she, (her chiropractor) can work miracles." Hickle's dachshund was having serious health issues. "He was kind of walking funny, like he was drunk," Hickle said. "His back legs would just collapse. He was moaning."

A veterinarian recommended their dachshund have an MRI and surgery, which would have cost $6,000. Hickle's response to this was, "He is our baby, our angel, our kid, our family. But my husband and I were about to pass out. We don't have $6,000 lying around. We did nothing but cry and pray. He was in so much pain."  The Hickles then brought their dachshund to a chiropractor and after just four visits the dog was walking again. In response to this Rhonda Hickle exclaimed, "It was the miracle we were praying for."



American Values Blamed For U.S. Health Care Crisis

The above headline is from the December 8, 2008 issue of the Science Daily. The feature starts off on an ominous note by stating, "To heal our ailing health care system, we need to stop thinking like Americans". The Science Daily feature is based on two articles in the October 29, 2008 issue of the journal Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology. In those articles, author, M. R. Nuwer, MD reports, "The United States has the world’s most expensive health care system yet one-sixth of Americans are uninsured."

Dr. Nuwer points out several problems with this system in his articles. One of these problems is insurance companies, "Carriers spend more for their own administration and profit than on payments to physicians," Nuwer notes. Dr. Nuwer, is a professor of clinical neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He also commented in the Science Daily article, "Americans prize individual choice and resist limiting care. We believe that if doctors can treat very ill patients aggressively and keep every moment of people in the last stages of life under medical care, then they should. We choose to hold these values. Consequently, we choose to have a more expensive system than Europe or Canada."

The Science Daily article revealed some very sobering statistics on our healthcare system. They noted that the US has the world's most expensive health care system, yet only one-sixth of Americans are fully insured. This system costs over $2 trillion annually. This makes health care spending the biggest part of our economy. By comparison this is four times bigger than national defense spending. The U.S. government is projecting that we will spend $4 trillion on health care by 2015 which will represent 20 percent of the nation's gross domestic product.

The Science Daily article also reported that in his paper, Dr. Nuwer, explained that 31 percent of U.S. health care expenditures go toward administration. "We push a lot of paper," Nuwer says. "We spend twice as much as Canada, which has a more streamlined health care system that demands doctors complete less paperwork." Nuwer also notes that we waste another 10% on, "defensive medicine" in which doctors order tests and procedures to cover themselves legally. "Doctors don't want to be accused in court of a delayed diagnosis, so they bend over backwards to find something, even if it's a rare possibility, in order to cover themselves," Nuwer says.

Another article on a similar concept from the December 7, 2008 Star Tribune in Minneapolis listed "5 Misconceptions About Health Care" that helped clarify this issue. These are:

  1. America has the best health care in the world. We have the most expensive system, but by most international measures we are far down the list on actual health care delivery.

  2. Somebody else is paying for your health insurance. This is not true as we pay for health care either in taxes or as a deduction from salary.

  3. We would save a lot if we could cut the administrative waste of private insurance. This point is debatable as some say that this cost is needed while others compare this with other countries that have considerably less administrative costs.

  4. Health-care reform is going to cost a bundle. Volumes can be written on this subject. However, the bottom line is that we are already paying for a wasteful system that leaves out a large portion of our population. If the rest of the world can offer health care at a fraction of the cost, why can't we?

  5. Americans aren't ready for a major overhaul of the health-care system. The Star Tribune article answered this item by reporting that the, "New England Journal of Medicine found that only 7 percent of Americans rate our health-care system excellent. Nearly 40 percent consider it poor. A whopping 70 percent believe it needs major changes, if not a complete overhaul." This pretty much says it all.  We are ready!



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