The horrors and destruction of war has often led to implementing medical innovations that can be life saving and of great benefit to society at large. This recent article from the Wall Street Journal illustrates this trend. The ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afganistan have led to thousands of combatants receiving traumatic brain injuries and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Both illnesses are not well treated by traditional Western Medicine. Unfortunately, we do not have good medicines for healing the brain or effectively alleviating the symptoms of these syndromes. As this article discusses, military doctors are using acupuncture to safely and effectively treat these injured soldiers.
The successful use of acupuncture in the military illustrates another point that I am fond of discussing: how healthcare is financed dictates how it is practiced. Acupuncture is not paid for by Medicare, Medicaid or the vast majority of private insurance policies. Consequently, acupuncture is underutilized in our country. Both the Department of Defense and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs provide healthcare outside of an insurance model. If it works, they provide it. Something to think about.
"Can Needles Soothe Wounded Warriors?" from the 4/23/11 Wall Street Journal: