Whole Body Health, A Holistic Approach

Holistic or “whole body health” is a hot topic today. Seemingly healthy people are getting X-ray CT or CAT scans as a preventive or proactive health care measure, even if they have NO symptoms.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website, there is currently no scientific evidence to show whole-body scanning of individuals without symptoms provides more benefit than harm to those being screened. Since CT scans result in relatively high radiation exposure, whole-body CT screening of people without symptoms provides questionable benefits.

As a physical therapist in Alhambra, California, I often deal with people having numerous concerns. Sorting out the top priorities is my prime concern. We must think multi-dimensionally. Our priority is to determine which techniques provide the most benefits in the least amount of time.

For instance, we’re starting to understand that swelling in the ankles can best be treated by opening up the lymph flow, which affects movement, balance and strength. Someone will eventually come up with a computer program to do most of the thinking, but I don’t believe there will ever be a substitute for the human touch.”

Lately, more patients have been coming in to Yonemoto Physical Therapy with multiple ailments. Besides having problems with muscles and joints, they often display systemic problems ultimately slowing the healing process. Some have digestive disorders interfering with healing because the proper nutrients don’t get absorbed into their bodies. Some cannot sleep and others have a chronic condition sapping their energy, making it difficult to add exercises to their daily routine. Merely doing normal daily activities exhausts them.

In these days of managed care emphasizing quick results we need to find more efficient and effective treatment methods. Sometimes this includes helping people sleep better or improving their nutrition.

Twenty years ago we separated the various health care systems and established “specialists,” i.e. lung specialists, heart specialists, liver specialists. These still exist today, but insurance companies have made “generalists” more important as the front line manager of health care. Today we see the person as a whole integrated system rather than a collection of pieces.

Likewise in physical therapy the approach has broadened. The forté of the physical therapist was previously screening muscle and joint systems. Now we also look at the nervous system, the connective tissue system as it relates to organs, and the muscular system as it relates to the vascular system and the lymphatic system.

Physical therapists are beginning to understand how the supportive tissues influence the immune system, which is critical for the individual’s health. Many techniques gently stimulate the person’s own healing process, causing no further damage.

Unfortunately, many medical procedures and treatment techniques do cause unintentional damage while attempting to promote healing. Take medications for example. Numerous side effects from medicines indicate destructive effects. An unwanted side effect from surgery is scar tissue. A detrimental result from exercise might be increased pain.

In looking for remedies for health problems, the solution should contain a multi-dimensional approach including all of the systems for an overall maximum effect. Unfortunately, taking one magic pill just doesn’t exist today. Perhaps it never did and we finally see the situation much more realistically.

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