A NATO Special Edition of Medical Acupunture

Acupuncture women

The U.S. military is working closely with its allies to improve how soldiers heal from the invisible and visible wounds of war. This requires a shift from a traditional approach to more integrative care. Currently, the U.S. Military is making strides to implement this new model for healing.

In support of this effort, the journal Medical Acupuncture published a special edition, solely focused on innovative ideas for the future of military health with a focus on integrative medicine (IM). These ideas sprang from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Task Force on Integrative Medicine, established in 2011.

“This Special Issue of Medical Acupuncture…presents the first guidelines for NATO to incorporate IM into medical systems to meet future health challenges,” said Richard C. Niemtzow, MD, PhD, MPH.[i]

As part of the NATO Task Force, subject matter experts represented France, Italy, Hungary, Germany, The Netherlands, and the United States. Guests from the United Kingdom and Korea also participated to explore the use of integrative medicine in the military.[ii]

In the executive summary, Richard P. Petri, Jr., MD, FAAPMP, FAAIM, COL MC, highlighted the years of “grassroots” implementation of Complementary and Alternative medicine within the U.S. Military infrastructure. Although these articles are in the Medical Acupuncture journal, acupuncture is but one aspect of the big picture of integrative care.

It is time to make integrative care our primary choice for not only treating our warriors but also by preventing illness in the first place.

The special edition includes the history of NATO’s Task Force on Integrative Medicine (HFM TF 195,); the efficacy of Battlefield Acupuncture (BFA) in treating pain; and information about BFA’s latest effort, the Acupuncture Training Across Clinical Settings (ATACS) program.

What follows are summaries of the articles that Samueli Institute helped author:

Historical and Cultural Perspective on Integrative Medicine

Richard P. Petri, Jr., MD FAAPMR, PAAIM, COL, MC, Roxana Delgado, PhD, MS, and Kimberly McConnell, EdD

Modern healthcare systems stand on traditions from the world’s medical past. Because these traditions are passed down, old health systems are adopted and implemented into new systems. With examples from Ancient Mesopotamia, India, China, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, this journal article questions the very institutions upon which our healthcare systems are built, leaving the question: Is tradition a bad thing for healthcare?

There are lessons to be learned when studying past medical institutions. As this article reads, “mistakes can be avoided,” and to build an impenetrable institution, we must know if the foundation is sound. Read the article here.

Integrative Medicine Experience in the U.S. Department of Defense

Richard P. Petru, Jr.,MD, FAAIM, COL MC and Roxana Delgado, PhD, MS

The U.S. Military by reputation is innovative. In recent years, there has been a global healthcare evolution in which health systems are leaning more toward integrative medicine and away from standard methods of care. As a result, the usage of integrative medicine services has increased by about 34 percent in the United States. The military has followed this civilian shift with 45 percent of service members, veterans and their families seeking integrative care services.

The current goal of the U.S. Department of Defense is to pile innovation on top of innovation. This process will involve telemedicine and the use of mobile technology to track the health of active duty service members in order to increase readiness across the military population. Read the article here.

Integrative Health and Healing Practices Specifically for Service Members: Self-Care Techniques

Richard P. Petri, Jr., MD, FAAPMR, FAAIM, COL MC, Joan A.G. Walter, JD, PA, and Jon Wright

Healthcare and health are different things. One of the components of health that allows systems to succeed is aligning the services (found in healthcare) with the need of each individual patient. This is known as patient-centered care. In NATO, patient-centered care can be difficult because what the patient need varies across different cultures.

The job of the Task Force for Integrative Medicine in NATO has been to centralize self-care to ensure that each service member receives the type of care they need and have the opportunity to live a life of good health. This method of integrative health involves the use of different integrative modalities, which guide patients in their self-care journey. The modalities include:



Energy Practices

Herbal Medicine

Meditative Practices

Movement Practices

This article holds that self-care places the healing power in the hands of the patients themselves. This, in turn, causes patients to take responsibility for their health, helping them to make better life choices that improve their overall wellbeing. Read the article here.

Integrative Medicine and the Trauma Spectrum Response

Wayne Jonas, MD, Joan Walter, JD, and Richard P. Petri, Jr., MD FAAPMR, FAAIM, COL MC

Global conflict is a recipe for trauma. The long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan unsurprisingly produced veterans who had “long-term symptomatic and functional difficulties” coping with trauma.  These cases of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), lead to a chain reaction known as the Trauma Spectrum Response (TSR).

Trauma can have both mental and physical effects, which can lead to problems like chronic pain or substance abuse.Read the TSR article.

Among these four articles in which Samueli Institute contributed research and thought leadership, are many others that highlight the current state of global health, the state of health in the military and how IM is the key to building a flourishing society. Access the full supplement here.

[i] http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/acu.2015.29006.rcn