AF physicians train to ease pain using acupuncture

  • Published
  • By Melanie Moore
  • 79th Medical Wing Public Affairs Officer
Eight Air Force physicians, from a broad spectrum of specialties, from bases across the globe came to the Air Force Acupuncture Center at Joint Base Andrews April 15 to begin a three-part training program to become certified and license as physician acupuncturists. This first session is on Battlefield Acupuncture.

"Battlefield Acupuncture is a rapid technique using tiny acupuncture needles inserted into the ears that directly modifies the way the central nervous system processes pain so as to reduce pain significantly in over 80 percent of patients," said Dr. Richard Niemtzow, Director, U.S. Air Force Acupuncture Center.

"The eight students will complete three separate TDYs and a total of 300 credit hours of study over a period of six months and then apply for state licensure," said Dr. Thomas Piazza, Program Manager, Air Force Acupuncture Program.

Maj. Cole Taylor, a family medicine and sports medicine physician at the 375th Medical Operations Squadron at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, explained he was happy to add another tool to his tool belt in term of treating acute and chronic pain.

"Battlefield Acupuncture will provide me with a point of care, reliable and efficient technique of pain control that can be utilized in a fast paced clinic setting," Taylor said.

Capt. Thomas Bayuk, a neurologist from the 48th Medical Operations Squadron at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, said that Battlefield Acupuncture can help his practice when he returns home.

"I see a large number of headaches and migraines as a neurologist and hope to apply this to my difficult patients," Bayuk said.

Capt. Meghan Tape, a flight surgeon at 412th Aerospace Medicine Squadron at Edwards AFB, California, explained this technique would work hand in hand with western medicine.

"I believe I will be able to safely return patients to duty faster by implementing Battlefield Acupuncture," Tape said.

The course was developed in partnership and conjunction with a prominent, civilian physician acupuncturist course.

"We plan  to support the Air Force's initiative to complement western medicine with acupuncture care for service men and women in accordance with the May 2010 Pain Management Task Force objective and recommendation 4.2.1.  Through this objective/recommendation, the Pain Management Task Force sought to enhance care to our DoD and VA beneficiaries by fostering this specific goal: "Incorporate integrative and alternative therapeutic modalities into a patient centered plan of care," said  Dr. Stephen Burns, Air Force Acupuncture Program.