The 14th Asian Games, held last October in Busan, South Korea, showcased the talents of over 2,400 athletes from more than a dozen countries.
While most of the competition took place in and around the sprawling Busan Sports Complex, a great deal of off-field activity occurred in the athletes' village, where a clinic delivered free acupuncture treatments to participants and officials.
Several countries, such as China and Japan, brought their own doctors to administer care to the competitors. For athletes from other nations, however, the free clinic was quite popular. Practitioners from smaller countries also stopped by to observe the care being delivered, and were impressed with acupuncture's speed and effectiveness.
"This is very good medicine," Dr. Shaif Abdo Abdullah, the team physician for Yemen, told the Associated Press. "I had heard about it before, but people think there is no effect from acupuncture. But when we tried it, it is very good for sprains and trauma, (and) for back injuries."
By the time the Games ended, more than 800 competitors had been treated with acupuncture. Among them was Yemeni gymnast Esmail Mohammed Al Muntaser, who sought treatment after straining two knee ligaments. Al Muntaser was needled at eight points on the knee and lower leg before returning to competition.
"I can feel some stimulation, but it's not really painful," he said.
Dr. Abdullah added that one of the benefits of acupuncture compared to other forms of medicine is that it does not involve drugs, which reduces the risks of an athlete suffering unwanted side-effects or inadvertently taking a banned substance.
"The drugs for some sportsmen have steroids, and it is risky for the player," said Dr. Abdullah. "If you use acupuncture, there is no risk."
"There should be clinics all over the world and lectures for doctors," he continued. "I think this (acupuncture) is very good for sport."
ACTCM Students Bring Acupuncture "Home"
The Jewish Home is one of the oldest geriatric care centers in northern California. Located in San Francisco, the home was founded in 1871 as a residential center for 12 senior citizens. It now houses 430 residents, many of whom suffer a variety of disorders, including headaches, muscle pain, back pain and sleeplessness.
Because these conditions aren't always treated effectively by Western medicine, administrators at the home have turned to the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine for help. Under a new program announced last year, ACTCM students visit the home to provide weekly acupuncture sessions to the residents.
"Eighty percent of our residents are on Medicaid," explained Dr. Jay Luxenberg, director of medical services at the home. "This isn't something Medicaid would reimburse for. When we collaborate with the school, we can offer it for free."
Erna Neubauer, 91, is one of the home's most frequent acupuncture patients. Having suffered chronic pain in her right knee for a considerable length of time, she said that acupuncture has eased the pain in her knee and allowed her to maintain a busy schedule.
"I was complaining about my right knee. I walk a lot; I do a lot," she said. "It (acupuncture) helps you because the pain is less and you feel good about it - without the pain and without the medication."
Colorado Hospital Offers Acupuncture, TCM at Integrative Medical Center
The University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora is one of the latest hospitals in the United States to offer acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine under its umbrella of services. Last year, the hospital established its Center for Integrative Medicine, which includes a clinic and a component that involves rotation of internal medical residents. Two Chinese medicine practitioners - Mel Drisko, LAc, and Daisy Dong-Cedar, MD, LAc - oversee the Center's daily operations, along with a Western-trained medical doctor who provides oversight and initial triage of patients.
At the Center, a variety of services are offered on an outpatient basis, including traditional Chinese medicine, massage, spiritual counseling, and advice on diet and nutrition, along with weekly tai chi classes and educational seminars for staff, patients and the general public. The Center is also unique in that it is one of the few medical centers in the U.S. that prescribes and dispenses Chinese herbal remedies directly from its clinic.
To date, more than 1,400 patients have been treated at the Center, the majority of whom have been referred from specialty clinics within the hospital system. Now in its second year of operation, the Center plans to expand its cadre of services in 2003 to include osteopathy, chiropractic and biofeedback.