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The US military is using acupuncture to treat American soldiers, with results that are being described as “off the charts.” If the idea of the military and acupuncture worlds coming together sounds likely an unlikely pairing, think back to the early historic roots of acupuncture. It seem acupuncture itself was created during times of war more than 2,000 years ago in China; here’s more on the archaeological evidence of acupuncture.
In the Middle East
At Camp Leatherneck, an enormous military base in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province, Commander Keith Stuessi (a US Naval doctor) used Battlefield Acupuncture Techniques to heal soldiers with concussions so they could return more quickly to active duty. Stuessi treated patients with acupuncture, at the specialist Concussion Restoration Care Center at Camp Leatherneck, and described the results as “phenomenal.” After one treatment, patients often slept through the night and headaches were greatly reduced in intensity. Sleep is the primary treatment for acute concussion symptoms. More…
What is Battlefield Acupuncture? Colonel Niemtzow, an Air Force physician and researcher, developed and named the battlefield acupuncture technique in 2001. He said he realized its possible military value and the events of the World Trade Center influenced him to name it battlefield acupuncture. Colonel Niemtzow has trained thousands of his military counterparts in using acupuncture. Battlefield Acupuncture focuses on locations on the ear that he said have been known for hundreds of years as effective areas for pain control. The ear is also practical because it can be readily accessed whether on the battlefield or in a hospital bed. More about the Department of Defense and acupuncture protocols developed by Dr. Niemtzow.
Here at Home
In addition to treating concussions, both the US Army and the Veterans Administration are providing acupuncture to soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Order (PTSD). Between 30% and 50% or returning soldiers are expected to show signs of PTSD. So far, about 16 programs across the various branches of the military for active-duty troops with PTSD exist or are in the works, offering acupuncture and other alternative treatments along with counseling, said Jerry Wesch, a clinical psychologist at one of the nation’s biggest programs, at Fort Hood in Killeen. More…
Both the US Army & Veteran’s Administration-funded programs employ acupuncturists now to provide care to military employees. Learn about the program at Fort Bliss.
DoD Funds Acupuncture Research
The connection between the military and acupuncture worlds extends beyond direct patient care. In 2013, the New England School of Acupuncture (now part of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences) completed a three year study on acupuncture for Gulf War veterans. (Gururas graduated from NESA.) The Department of Defense provided a grant in excess of $1.2 million to fund this first-of-its-kind clinical trial: The Effectiveness of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Gulf War Illness (GWI). GWI is a complex syndrome characterized by many symptoms, including fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, headaches, dizziness, memory problems, indigestion, skin problems, shortness of breath, and mood disorders. More than 100,000 of the 700,000 Gulf War veterans to date have reported GWI symptoms.
The Department of Defense Deployment Health Clinical Center (DHCC) aims to improve deployment-related health care. DHCC seeks to improve military health care delivery systems from a disease management model to a more effective and efficient population-based collaborative model of care through health systems research, program implementation support at military treatment facilities, and program evaluation services. Check out the DHCCs research on acupuncture.
The Samuel Institute works to inform military researchers, clinicians and policy makers about the evidence base for acupuncture use, identify research gaps, and to work with military leaders to integrate acupuncture into care paradigms in a variety of military environments.
The US Army. Check out the homepage of The US Army on Reducing the Use of Pain Killers in Our Military Personnel
Struggling with PTSD? One online resource to explore is the PTSD information center at the Help Guide. The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay has people available 24/7 to speak with you and help you find help.