Monday, March 30, 2009
Sometimes healing comes through low-tech interventions in high-tech medical environments. That thought resonated with me when I came across an article in the McAllen Chronicle, describing the work of Dr. Anatoliy Ilizarov, the medical director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Mission Regional Medical Center in Mission, Texas. As you can imagine, stress is rampant in a NICU, for staff, families and the tiny, fragile patients. Dr. Ilizarov, a trained classical pianist, began streaming music into the NICU to help reduce stress, and discovered that the premature infants began to gain weight faster, and began to feed earlier. Staff and families felt more relaxed as well. Dr. Ilizarov theorizes that the beat of the music, between 60-80 beats per minute, mimics the mother's heartbeat while the infant is in the womb. I was struck by the simple beauty of this intervention, a doctor who is a pianist using his gifts of art and science to heal gently. Good work, Dr. Ilizarov!
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
An article caught my eye in today's Wall Street Journal..."Stress So Bad It Hurts -- Really" by Melinda Beck. The article presents a patient's perspective on being told that chronic physical pain is caused by stress and it is "all in your head". Without further explanation, the patient feels indignant and angry that the health care provider does not believe their pain is "real". The medical community is slowly becoming more comfortable with the notion that psychological stress can exacerbate and even produce physical pain in individuals. Yet, we currently do not have a health care system that is set up to be multidisciplinary in response to chronic pain. There are initiatives going on around the country that begin to address multidisciplinary ways of dealing with complex pain issues. I am currently involved in graduate work at Tufts University School of Medicine's Pain Research, Education and Policy Program, the only one of its kind in the United States. As an initiative to share information and dialogue about pain management, we have started a blog (http://www.go.tufts.edu/pain) on the complex subject of pain research, education and policy and would welcome your voice. I hope that as President Obama considers health care reform, we as health care providers and consumers take on a vocal role of advocating for a multidisciplinary approach to true "health" care and not procedure oriented "illness" care. Only when we begin to acknowledge the innate connection between the body, mind and spirit will we truly begin to understand the complexities of the human body.
I would love to hear your thoughts!