The following texts are excerpts of ideas for the improvement of the current Healthcare system of the United States which I have promoted during my Presidency with the FSMTA, spoken about in lectures with the Morton Plant Resource Center and related personally to my clients over the years. They are, simply, ideas which I feel could be implemented to improve the overall wellness of the people of the United States.
While many people claim that to "change" our insurance in the United States would reduce us to a socialized model which they perceive as inferior, their seemingly logical model contains both truth and fallacies. Some conventional therapies might not continue to be as accessible as they are now...(as in MRI's or CAT scans), but perhaps it is possible that they are being overused to begin with, whereas other less conventional treatments, interventions and therapies could potentially come to the forefront. Over the 30 years I have been in practice, I have seen scan after scan ordered for patients, when more simple avenues of technology could have adequatly taken their place. Now...I am not one to "second guess" a physician and what he or she thinks is in the best interest of his patient, and certainly can not diagnose a problem that a physician might believe exists, however...a great deal of pains that I have successfully treated over the years were easily resolvable through the application of competent massage and bodywork techniques...even after these very same patients had extensive scans which came back as "unremarkable". Am I saying that a physician should be remiss in thinking that an underlying problem might exist for the pain?
The answer, of course is: "NO."
I believe, however, that a new dialogue between physician and patient is far overdue, and should include a thorough physical palpation examination (sometimes absent), with an emphasis on possible myofascial dysfunction (Travell, Nimmo) which might explain the patient's complaint in such a way where a simpler somatic intervention might be used first to determine if this might be the actual cause of the problem, rather than a condition stemming from an organic pathology.
Again, I have seen far too many patients come back to my office, after having been referred to Physical Therapy for treatment...and were very disappointed in what they received there.
Physical Therapy is excellent (don't get me wrong here), but as with any discipline, it has its own areas of applicability. For rehabilitation from orthopaedic surgeries, it has a wonderful track record, but from myofascial pain resulting from overuse, accident or injury, other forms of bodywork tend to yield much superior results. Massage Therapists receive hundreds of hours of training in their respective techniques, while Physical Therapists receive only a few. And it is an unfortunate truth that physicians tend to refer their patients to P.T. departments or offices...rather than to therapists trained for the specific purpose of relieving the dysfunction and, ultimately, providing the patient with a more satisfactory outcome.
Now...let's address the incredible misuse of "insurance dollars spent" and how they could be both better and more intelligently applied. Myofascial pain accounts for more lost hours in business than any other type of "time-off" taken from business.
Imagine for a moment, if you will, the cost for an average MRI, CAT or PET scan. We are talking in the ranges of several thousands of dollars...all conveniently billed (and paid for) by insurance companies. Now, also imagine the savings that might occur if (as it infrequently happens) that a patient was given a thorough palpation exam and that its result was a determination that the patient's problem was likely due to myofascial overload, trigger points or fascial restriction, and was consequently referred out to a therapist specifically trained to treat such anomalies. As the cost of an hour treatment can vary from the ranges of between $50-$70 dollars (estimation), a patient could have 5 or 6 treatments (addressing the actual problem), at a cost of between $250-$420, targeting and treating the actual problem...and returning the patient to work much sooner, and without the unnecessary intervention of prescription pain-killers or muscle relaxants, which while having some positive temporary effects, actually just mask and not treat the problem.
Now, with your indulgence, allow me to continue my analogy a bit further..
Let's imagine for a moment that our insurance companies allowed their clients to have a massage treatment once a week for the entire year. At an (estimated) cost of $70 per session, this would cost the insurance companies a mere $3500 per calendar year. As a therapist in practice for the last 27 years, I can assure these companies (who might be worried reading this), that a very small percentage of clients to whom this would be offered would show up on a weekly basis for a massage (most people do not have the time); probably about 5-10% would choose to do this. The vast majority of their clientele would probably make an appointment every month, bringing the cost down to $720 per year...nothing at all in comparison to the scale of payments made to emergency rooms and hospitals. And what would be the outcome of such an initiative? A simple treatment, once a month for an individual, would yield a person who enjoyed a greater freedom of movement, an enhanced sense of well-being and better overall health, resulting in less time taken off from their work, higher productivity for the economy overall and less of a reliance on all of the "pain-killers" that we see constantly advertised on television.
The simple truth is: very little of our medical insurance dollars are spent on prophylactic or preventative care. Patients are told to lose weight, stay on medications to reduce their cholesterol levels and prescribed medications for anxiety or depression...and while these are serious things which require attention, they are most always treated medically...and not holistically.
Part of the reason that people remain less active than they should is shown vividly by the predominance of commercials for "aches and pains", and the answer for all of this is, of course, another OTC or prescription pill. The patients I see are concerned individuals who do not care to take the "pill route", and instead, choose to be pro-active regarding their daily well-being. They are people who understand my analogy about owning a car:
"If you don't take your car in for tune-ups and change the oil regularly, how long do you think it will be before you just have a piece of junk on your hands?"
I always follow this up with another question : "Do you think you're a bit more complex than a car?"
It's something that everyone can understand. And now, it's high time that the insurance industry and the medical profession understands it as well.
On Health and Well-Being:
Being healthy, active and living your life to its fullest is a conscious decision. Choosing health-promoting foods and supplements is something that everyone can do. We are however, constantly bombarded by advertising and campaigns about foods which are basically health-destroying, and it is our duty to be ever vigilant in our pursuit of nutrition which will enhance our immunity and provide us with a better overall quality of life.
For the last 30 years, I have endeavored to provide my clients with helpful information about nutrition. Although not a dietician myself, I continually open dialogues with my clients regarding their own dietary health choices and how they believe they can be improved. The old saying "you are what you eat" is more true than most people realize. I encourage my clients to play a game whenever they go to the market to shop for food. I ask them to look, whenever they are in the checkout line, at the food that the person in front of them is buying...and then to look at the person. A strong correlation soon emerges. When you see a person selecting fresh vegetables, fruits, lean meats, quality dairy and whole grain products...you will see a person who has a glow of good health. Whenever you see someone selecting sugary cereals, soda, sport drinks, ice cream, chips, cookies and other non-nutritive choices...you will see the result of that as well.
As I said before...choosing to be healthy is a "conscious decision". Do your very best to make it yours as well now, and you will find that you will have a much better chance at avoiding drug intervention therapy later.
Exercise, Exercise, Exercise.....
This is probably the hardest thing to impart to people. Truth is....even I enjoy getting "couchy" in the evenings and putting on a good movie to watch; just like anyone else. I do however, put in time getting proper exercise to help maintain a good weight, keep my muscles toned and giving my entire system the proper stimulus it needs for smooth muscular contraction (ease of movement), mood enhancement and strong immune function. And it doesn't have to be a huge effort either! One can get a proper workout by simply walking a half-hour on a daily basis. I encourage all of my patients to include this simple exercise in their daily routines, as it will yield health benefits that money just can not buy!
Do the right thing for yourself now...and you will soon see that you'll most likely want to add different things (bicycling, in-line skating, aerobics or yoga) before you know.
It's your body.
Give it the respect it deserves.
"Whether you think you can, or think you can't.....either way you are right." - Henry Ford