Benefits Of Balancing The Body
Interviewed by Melissa Moniz
Wednesday - July 28, 2010
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Wai Hoa Low, DOAM, MBA, L.AC
President and CEO of Institute of Clinical Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
Where did you receive your schooling and training?
I received my MBA from Chaminade University and then a Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM) degree from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine. I completed my clinical doctoral externship in China at the Chengdu University of Chinese Medicine. Previously, I attended a three-year program in acupuncture at the Oriental Medical Institute of Hawaii. I also studied advanced acupuncture at Guang An Men Hospital in Beijing. I am nationally board certified in acupuncture by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). I also am licensed by the Hawaii State Board of Acupuncture. In addition, I am a certified Acupuncture Detoxification Specialist.
Can you talk about the Institute of Clinical Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine?
The Institute of Clinical Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ICAOM) was founded by me and my colleagues in 1996. We had the vision of creating a more mainstream model of Oriental Medicine education than was previously available in Hawaii. ICAOM is an accredited institution of graduate professional education and recognized by the U.S Department of Education. Its mission is in dedicating educational, clinical and professional excellence, fostering the development of competent and skillful Oriental Medicine practitioners, and promoting acupuncture and oriental medicine in the local and global communities. ICAOM offers a master of science in oriental medicine degree program. Included in the students’intensive training is an extensive clinical experience gained from working as interns in ICAOM’s teaching clinic, which provides high-quality and low-cost acupuncture treatments by the school’s well-supervised interns. Before students graduate, they need to have both internship and externship training with a requirement of at least 1,080 hours of clinical practice and a 350 patient count minimum. These experiences will provide students with the ability and skills to treat patients effectively and accurately. Finally, in order to be licensed by the Hawaii State Board of Acupuncture, students must pass the national board exam.
About how many students graduate each year?
Every year we usually enroll about 10 new students and we have about 7-10 graduates each year. Some students may take more than four years, but no more than six years, to complete the program.
What are the benefits of acupuncture?
Acupuncture activates the body’s energy system and promotes homeostasis to heal the body. It’s good for circulation, pain relief and balancing the body. Everyday stresses cause an imbalance in the body such as working too much, getting laid off, worrying extensively and the like. It’s important to balance the body before symptoms of illness occur and become worse. When the body’s circulation is poor, then you get more disorders and pain. Studies have found that acupuncture benefits nausea and vomiting related to pregnancy, chemotherapy and post-surgery pain. Acupuncture is also useful for many other disorders such as anxiety and depression, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, constipation, fibroids, fibromyalgia, stroke rehabilitation, migraine headaches, muscle and joint pain.
How did you become affiliated with REHAB Hospital of the Pacific?
I was introduced by one of our Governing Board Directors and I attended one of REHAB’s workshops regarding the integration of Eastern and Western medicine. We talked about how to integrate with REHAB and I presented a proposal to the REHAB board of directors and had several discussions during the beginning of this year. From there, we looked into what needed to be done to set up an acupuncture treatment protocol in a hospital setting. REHAB may be the first hospital in the state to integrate acupuncture into its hospital setting. Hopefully, other hospitals will bring this concept and prototype to their hospitals too.
How does the acupuncture you do at REHAB differ from what you do at Institute of Clinical Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine?
There is not much difference in treatment because we perform the same scalp acupuncture on most stroke patients. Previously, REHAB patients had to make an appointment with ICAOM’s Teaching Clinic in order to be treated and they also needed to arrange transportation. The patient may have to provide their own medical records such as lab results. The benefit of working onsite at REHAB is that patients are on the premises and we have access not only to their lab results but also their medical records. This gives us a complete picture of the patient’s condition and that helps with treatment planning. REHAB patients that receive acupuncture just before and/or after their physical therapy sessions perform better.
How does acupuncture help patients doing rehabilitation?
Acupuncture influences the central and peripheral nervous system. It stimulates the motor and sensory area of the brain. Studies indicated that acupuncture releases endorphins from the brain which make it particularly effective in pain control. It works with the body, harmonizing and balancing vital functions. It improves circulation and allows the body to heal itself more quickly and completely. REHAB patients usually feel more relaxed which helps them to loosen up and they are able to go into the exercise more freely and with greater range of motion.
Do you think it will become more common for hospitals and health centers to incorporate acupuncture in their conventional patient care?
Yes, there are many hospitals and major health care centers on the Mainland that are already doing it . Studies have found that integrating acupuncture with conventional patient care makes for complete healing of the body. I think Hawaii is a bit slow in integrating our modality into the mainstream.
It’s a win-win-win situation for the patients, hospital and HMOs. Basically, it gives the patient more options and additional benefits. It also lowers the cost of health care in the long-term. In China, for example, most people there would seek Chinese medicine before surgery, if their condition is not life-threatening.
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