PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder)
PTSD is a serious mental health disorder/condition that afflicts great numbers of our active duty military personnel and our veterans who have served so honorably in the past. The diagnosis of PTSD arrives after an individual experiences and/or witnesses a traumatic or terrifying event where serious physical harm or trauma has been threatened or inflicted to that individual. Our military personnel that serves in combat situations are exposed to those type of threats or events on a daily basis.
PTSD is not diagnosed until at least one month has passed since that time that the individual has experienced this traumatic event. There are no specific lab tests to diagnose PTSD, but various tests may be used to rule out or confirm physical illness or other signs/symptoms as a cause.
Signs and symptomology of PTSD are numerous. Those afflicted with PTSD experience recurring memories of the said traumatic event. Sleep is disturbed with experiences of nightmares or related flashbacks during the day. There are feelings of anxiety, guilt, distrust, along with anger issues. Difficulty concentrating is another manifestation. With the anxiety, guilt, and distrust comes avoidance and can therefore lead patients with PTSD to shut themselves off in what is considered a guarding mechanism, from everyone or everything that may trigger thoughts and memories of the traumatic event. This causes a feeling of detachment from society and leads to isolation.
While these symptoms present themselves emotionally/psychologically, they can manifest physically in numerous forms, such as night sweats, chills, headaches, panic attacks, heart palpitations, nervous shaking and tremors. PTSD can be set off by triggers in normal daily activities, i.e., sounds, sights, smells that can bring back a flood of memories of the traumatic event they have experienced.
Treatment for PTSD can be integrative and comprehensive, which can consist from various medications prescribed by your PCP along with psychiatric/psychological counseling both on an individual setting or in a group setting. However, a treatment that is often overlooked or little known is acupuncture, which is a very effective modality in the treatment of PTSD.
Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine is a complete medical modality that is thousands of years old and has been time tested with empirical results and findings. The acupuncture treatment is administered to the ears in a procedure that is called auricular acupuncture. There are five needles placed in each ear that pertain to specific points that address the patient’s anxiety, anger, fear, and other related symptomology. This protocol is called the NADA protocol and was founded by Dr. Smith in 1985 under the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA). In appearance, this treatment might seem very simple and that is because it is. The points allow the spirits to open and increase the rate of recovery that the individual experiences. The results are very beneficial and extremely helpful for those battling PTSD.
The five points that make up the NADA protocol are Shen Men, Sympathetic, Kidney, Liver, and Lung.
- Shen Men: relieves anxiety/stress, calms mood swings and impatience, and decreases heart rate.
- Sympathetic: balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, decreases pain and stress, and improves circulation through vasodilation.
- Kidney: relieves fear and paranoia while purifying the blood and releasing toxins through urination.
- Liver: restores emotional balance by decreasing feelings of anger, rage, and depression by correcting the free flow the qi.
- Lung: relieves sadness and grief, strengthens the immune system, and eases breathing.
PTSD is a debilitating disorder that impacts an individual’s lifestyle negatively as well as disrupts their family, social, occupational and sometimes financial aspects. However, there is help and ways to combat PTSD to bring closure to some degree and to improve their lifestyle. In closing, if you or someone you know suffers with PTSD please feel free to reach out and send them to the Veteran’s Clinic at National University of Health Sciences, 200 E. Roosevelt Road, Lombard IL for treatment free of charge.
Dr. George G. Stretch D.N., D.A.O.M., L.Ac.
National University of Health Sciences
Whole Health Center
200 E. Roosevelt Road
Lombard, IL 60148
Clinic Telephone: 630-629-9664
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, occurs more than often from trauma to the head. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) define a TBI as a “disruption in the normal function of the brain, that is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or penetrating head injury”. This is when TBI takes on a completely different aspect of injury than other injuries to other anatomical entities of the body. Since our brain is basically the control center of our bodies, our brains give us our personalities, mental capacities, our abilities to reason and make decisions, along with functioning our central nervous system and autonomic nervous systems that encompass a great proportion of our systemic body functions that are taken for granted on a day-to-day basis.
For example, lacerations, punctures, broken bones for the most part heal and regain their anatomic function. However, with traumatic brain injuries, depending on the degree and severity of such, do not heal in the same fashion. Recovery is a functional recovery. It may be stated with some certainty, that no two brain injuries are alike. Signs and symptoms of TBI’s may be immediately apparent or may not manifest for days or week after the trauma. In some cases, the individual often does not even realize that a trauma to the brain has occurred.
Initial signs and symptomology of traumatic brain injury can range anywhere from headache, confusion, memory loss, dizziness, blurred vision, slurred speech accompanied by nausea and vomiting and ringing in the ears etc. Delayed symptoms include irritability, depression, sleep disturbances, loss of smell or taste.
Diagnosis and evaluation should be made immediately after the traumatic event or ASAP:
- In-depth questioning on how the trauma occurred.
- Neurological assessment to determine the individual’s level of consciousness along with symptomology that is presented.
- Further neurological examination that encompasses assessment of memory, vision, taste, smell, touch, balance, and reflexes to make a determination of brain function.
- Lastly, brain imaging in the form of Computed Tomography (CT) and/or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to rule out and or confirm intracranial bleeds or swelling.
Treatment can vary from medication for sedation, pain relief, diuretics or anti-seizure medication. Surgery may be necessary to remove hematomas to reduce pressure inside the skull, repairing a skull fracture, or creating an opening in the skull to relieve pressure. Long term therapy in the form of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy may be rendered to reestablish how to walk, talk, and perform activities of daily living (ADL’s) pending on the severity of trauma.
Our active military personnel are first and foremost prone to the occurrence of traumatic brain injury while serving in combat situations. There is a modality that can be integrated with the aforementioned treatment quite successfully for some of the patient’s afflicted with TBI. Scalp acupuncture (Neuroacupuncture) is a specialized treatment protocol where therapeutic needling is performed on specific lines and zones on the scalp to treat various head trauma and cerebral diseases. The needles are inserted into the loose areolar tissue layer on the scalp to thereby stimulate the brain neurons of the underlying areas, which in turn stimulate those brain cells that are related to the impaired functions, i.e., balance, speech, motor functions etc. Sometimes needles are also inserted on traditional acupuncture points of the body.
Speed and recovery vary from individual to individual depending on the severity of brain trauma and how long going are the effects of the trauma. This is something all TBI patients should look into as part of the integrative treatment protocols and especially our wounded veterans when suffering from TBI inflicted while serving our country. Treatment is free of charge for our veterans at our Veteran’s Clinic at National University of Health Sciences, located at 200 Roosevelt Road, Lombard IL. Call 630-629-9664 to make an appointment today.
Dr. George G. Stretch D.N., D.A.O.M., L.Ac.