VICENZA, Italy - The Traumatic Brain Injury Department at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center hosted a Battlefield Acupuncture Training on February 7 via a virtual meeting with the nurses, medics and physicians at the U.S. Army Health Clinic--Vicenza.
Due to the importance of evidence-based and multi-focused interventions to improve Soldiers' performance, this training introduced medical providers to Battlefield Acupuncture and Alpha Stimulation devices.
The Air Force Acupuncture Procedure project was initiated by the Air Force Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Roudebush, to encourage the use of alternatives to pharmaceutical-only based medical treatment and to make acupuncture more readily available to members of the armed services and their beneficiaries.
"Battlefield Acupuncture, is a simplified name for the Auricular Stimulation Procedure" said Lt. Col. Kane Morgan, USAHC-Vicenza Commander. "It was designed as an easy and effective treatment for medical providers to perform quickly to temporarily relieve common symptoms such as pain, anxiety and insomnia."
This DOD-endorsed method utilizes simple inch-long auto injectors which produce tiny gold needles. As the name implies, this simple administration tool enables treatment to be performed anywhere, even on the battlefield.
Referencing an ear guide, highlighting which areas of the ear affect different parts of the body, the 12 medics, nurses and physicians studied the pressure points and locations on the ear which serve as energy flow channels.
"The practice of inserting the very small, anchored needles into the different points around the ear create balance in the energy flow channels, providing relief of the patient's symptoms," said Maj. Daniel Rhoades, Chief of the LRMC TBI Clinic.
The needle resembles a small earing stud when anchored into the skin at particular points on the ear. They are left in place after the procedure and the Soldier can continue with his or her daily life and the needles will fall out on their own within a week. Some patients may require follow up and repeated procedures to experience the maximum benefit from the auricular acupuncture.
"I remind my patients that acupuncture is not a stand-alone treatment," said Rhoades. "It may require other modalities and multiple treatments. Clinically, however, I see 80 - 90 percent positive change in my patients for short term relief after the auricular acupuncture is performed."
According to the Auricular Stimulation Procedure Guide published by the U.S. Air Force, there usually aren't any side effects to the procedure, except for a feeling of deep relaxation.
Another option presented during this training was the Alpha Stimulation Device.
"This device emits a low-dose electrical stimuli through your ear lobes," said Ashley Jack, Physician Assistant, LRMC TBI Clinic. "It works to relieve headache symptoms, stress, and insomnia. While wearing it, the patient may feel like the room is swaying slightly. Patients can be referred to the TBI clinic, and after three supervised uses can then check a unit out for up to two weeks at a time for home use,"
Complimentary alternative medicine is becoming more widespread in today's military medical practices as evidenced by these trainings. These treatments give providers more non-pharmacological options to treat their patients and enhance readiness. Patients interested in learning more should talk to their primary care providers for more information.
Medical providers interested in training on these modalities can contact the LRMC TBI clinic.