Complementary Medicine

As defined by the National Institutes of Health, “Complementary and Alternative Medicine  (CAM) are a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine. ‘Complementary medicine’ refers to the use of CAM together with conventional medicine, such as using acupuncture in addition to usual care to help lessen pain, while ‘alternative medicine’ refers to the use of CAM in place of conventional medicine.”

The 2007 National Health Interview Survey, which included a comprehensive survey of CAM use by Americans, showed that approximately 38 percent of adults use CAM.

Under the auspices of the Recreational Therapy Department, complementary medicine services at HHH began with the introduction of yoga for individuals with disabilities and medical conditions, and expanded into the provision of massage therapy for patients, families, staff and community members.

The service has been expanded to now offer Ai Chi, which is offered on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. Ai Chi’s purpose is to increase a patient’s self-reliance and help the patient to control his/her health through their mind, body and spirit.

The therapy uses gentle movements designed to improve balance and posture, and offers relaxation on both land and in water. This therapy also has many cardiac benefits, such as gaining better control of breathing and increased strength of respiratory muscles. All of these benefits will help lead to more energy and provide a better way of life for the participant. For additional information on Ai Chi, please call 845-786-4457.

Another new complementary medicine program is Acupuncture, which utilizes special sterile thin needles that are inserted into acupuncture points in the skin. These services are being provided by a New York State licensed acupuncturist. Effective acupuncture points are located on the arms, from the elbow to the finger and on the leg, from the knee to the toes. Ear points are also quite valuable and are often utilized for patients that are bedridden.

The aim of this treatment is to activate inhibitory receptors to decrease the individual’s perception of pain. Research has also shown that acupuncture reduces stress and can be a helpful adjunct in smoking cessation programs. For additional information on Acupuncture at HHH, call 845-786-4200.

A new Reiki component to the hospital’s massage therapy service has also been added. Deana Evangelista is a NYS licensed massage therapist and level I Reiki Master. She has additional certifications in medical massage, Swedish massage and therapeutic and relaxation touch. Deana is available by appointment during day and weekend hours. Massage increases tone and blood flow and decreases swelling and pain, which enables patients to get more from their rehabilitation program Massage also helps patients to relax, an added benefit. For additional information on Massage services at HHH, call 845-642-2036.

Acupuncture, Reiki and Massage Therapist appointments are set directly with the provider and are fee for service. There is no need for a prescription and anyone who feels they can benefit from the service, including outpatients, visitors, and community program participants is encouraged to try it out. A physician clearance form is required for all inpatients who wish to participate in a complementary medicine program. The inpatient unit clerk will help facilitate faxing the clearance permission form to the acupuncture or massage therapist.

These therapies are available to in and outpatients with cardiac, pulmonary and orthopedic conditions, as well as to those with stroke, brain and spinal cord injuries. After discharge from Helen Hayes Hospital, patients may continue with the complementary medicine program if they desire.

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