I have listed the various therapies below as Alternative Therapies because some doctors, and most insurance companies, may consider them out of the norm. Hospitals have different points of view as well. We had one hospital that really looked down on alternative therapies while the second hospital we were in advertised a number of alternative therapies all over the hospital.
My wife and her family have been very much into herbal and natural remedies for years so, while I have always been somewhat skeptical, I am at least open to trying them. We tried some of the alternative therapies soon after my daughter’s injury. In an attempt to try not to influence the results, we only discussed the therapies outside the room and then let the practitioners come in and do their thing with no preparation. At that point, Ashleigh was still not very responsive and so I thought she would be a good test subject to test the therapy without bias. I was very surprised that she sometimes showed some very dramatic changes. Much to my chagrin, I even had to quit calling it voodoo.
With that background in mind, I urge you to also keep an open mind and consider trying some of these alternative therapies. Get informed and understand the risks for your particular situation but go ahead and give it a try.
Below are descriptions taken mostly from Web sites from these various associations. Be sure to do your due diligence and speak with the practitioners and get your questions answered beforehand.
Healing Touch is a holistic energy therapy that uses gentle, non-invasive touch to influence and support the human energy system within and surrounding the body. The goal of Healing Touch is to restore harmony, energy, and balance within the human energy system. These noninvasive techniques utilize the hands to clear, energize, and balance the human and environmental energy fields thus affecting physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health and healing. Healing Touch complements conventional health care and is also used in collaboration with other approaches to health and healing.
Healing Touch was one of the first alternative therapies we tried. Although it was one of the few therapies allowed by the hospital, our neurosurgeon would not approve our request so the Healing Touch practitioners could visit. He said that you can’t rub neurons back together. My wife, being as determined as she is, waited until the weekend when one of our neurosurgeon’s partners was on duty and asked him to sign off on it. He said it certainly wasn’t going to hurt anything as they don’t even touch the person.
My daughter was having trouble with neuro-storms at the time where her autonomic systems were out of sync. She had a heart rate of over 140 for extended periods of time. She had high fevers where they resorted to using the cooling blanket. This had been going on for days before the Healing Touch session. For the first time in days, my daughter’s heart rate dropped back to near normal.
Now for the voodoo part… The monitor displaying her vital signs started acting up immediately after the session. A couple of technicians tried to fix it to no avail. They ended up completely replacing the monitor and the new one had problems as well. Maybe it was all that Healing Touch energy flowing. (Doo-doo-doo-doo)
Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used systems of healing in the world. Originating in China some 3,500 years ago, only in the last three decades has it become popular in the United States. In 1993, the Food and Drug Administration estimated that Americans made up to 12 million visits per year to acupuncture practitioners.
Traditional Chinese medicine holds that there are as many as 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body, which are connected by 20 pathways (12 main, 8 secondary) called meridians. These meridians conduct energy, or qi (pronounced "chi"), between the surface of the body and its internal organs. Each point has a different effect on the qi that passes through it.
Qi is believed to help regulate balance in the body. It is influenced by the opposing forces of yin and yang, which represent positive and negative energy and forces in the universe and the human body. Acupuncture is believed to keep the balance between yin and yang, thus allowing for the normal flow of qi throughout the body and restoring health to the mind and body.
Several theories have been presented as to exactly how acupuncture works. One theory suggests that pain impulses are blocked from reaching the spinal cord or brain at various "gates" to these areas. Since a majority of acupuncture points are either connected to (or are located near) neural structures, this suggests that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system.
Acupuncture is used to treat a myriad of problems. Medical organizations and insurance companies have approved acupuncture for a number of ailments and the list continues to expand. Recent studies have demonstrated that acupuncture may help in the rehabilitation of stroke patients and can relieve nausea in patients recovering from surgery.
My daughter has been getting acupuncture for quite a while now. Although we have not seen dramatic improvements related to her brain injury, it has been very helpful and effective in treating some of the side effects. It has proven effective for us with Ashleigh’s headaches, high tone, sinus problems, and more. My wife and I have both had treatments. For example, it helped stop my shingles outbreak in three treatments.
A couple of other notes. We have had two acupuncturists and we made the conscious choice of choosing doctors who also practice acupuncture. We just felt more comfortable that a doctor would be more knowledgeable as to our daughter’s complications. Also, make sure the acupuncturist uses new, sterile needles and, like all your doctors or therapists, wash their hands beforehand. Another tip is to make sure the acupuncturist counts their needles as they remove them so you don’t lose one in the bed.
Massage therapy involves the restoration of proper joint function of the spine or extremities, and the strengthening of supporting muscles and soft tissues. Massage therapy stretches and loosens muscle and connective tissue, and improves blood flow and the movement of lymph fluid, speeding the removal of metabolic waste products resulting from exercise or inactivity, and allowing more oxygen and nutrients to reach the cells and tissues. Sensory receptors in the skin and muscles "wake up", bringing new awareness to areas that have felt "cut off" by chronic tension patterns.
Massage affects pain through the central nervous system. In one particular theory of pain called the "gate theory," messages of pain which normally travel from the injury to the brain, are blocked before reaching the centers responsible for interpreting pain. Massage helps stimulate and close the so-called gate of pain messages. As a result, the intensity of the pain perceived by the brain is decreased.
Massage can affect muscles directly by stimulating inactive muscles whose inactivity is due to illness or injury. Deep continuous massage can relieve muscle tension and help prevent painful muscle spasms, which are common following injury. Also, massage can stretch and break down fibrous scar tissue that is not healing properly because it is not aligned to the adjoining muscle fibers.
Benefits include: increased circulation to promote healing, pain relief of spinal injuries and headaches by decreasing muscle tension, helps rehabilitate injuries by stretching connective tissues, relieves cramps and muscle spasms, and chronic stress, clinical depression, and anxiety can be greatly reduced with regular daily massage sessions.