Acupressure Beneficial for Motion Sickness in Elderly
Elderly adults being transported by ambulance to the hospital following minor trauma may experience less motion sickness and be more relaxed upon arrival by receiving acupressure during the trip, according to a study in Anesthesia and Analgesia (2004;98:220–3). This safe, effective treatment is easy to learn and may be used by paramedics and other healthcare workers who attend people during emergency care transport.
In the new study, 100 adults between the ages of 60 and 100 years who were transported to a hospital by ambulance were randomly assigned to receive acupressure to a specific acupuncture point on both hands (called K-K9 in Korean hand acupuncture) or acupressure on a different point on the hand that is not believed to have any therapeutic benefit. Participants were questioned about degree of nausea, sensation of strong heartbeats, vertigo, and visual problems initially and upon arrival at the hospital. Blood pressure, heart rate, and hand perspiration were measured at the same intervals.
Those who received therapeutic acupressure in transport had a significant 70% reduction in nausea compared with those who received the sham acupressure. Significant decreases in heart rate and hand perspiration were also observed in the treatment group. No significant differences in blood pressure, vertigo, visual problems, or sensation of strong heartbeats were found between the two groups. However, overall degree of satisfaction was significantly higher in those receiving legitimate acupressure.
The acupuncture point used in the current study, K-K9, is located on the palm side of the ring finger, just between the two knuckles. Recent studies have found that stimulation of this specific point effectively reduces nausea and vomiting following surgery. Access to anti-nausea medications during transport is limited or not available in some countries that require physicians to administer them. Acupressure might therefore provide a convenient alternative, as it can be performed by anyone. This non-pharmacologic method may also provide relief for those who cannot or prefer not to take medications.
Acupuncture is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, a system of medicine that has developed over 5,000 years. Other forms of acupuncture have also come from Japan, Korea, and Thailand. Acupuncture’s effectiveness for many conditions has been observed over thousands of years and, more recently, in controlled studies. Acupressure utilizes the same principles as acupuncture, but instead of inserting a sterile needle to stimulate a specific point, the practitioner applies direct pressure (usually with the hands) to achieve the same benefits. Some practitioners believe acupressure is as effective as acupuncture, but few studies have compared the two methods for the same illness. Acupressure of K-K9 may also be useful in treating other types of motion sickness, such as air and sea travel. However, more research is necessary to see if this treatment method provides similar benefits.
Darin Ingels, ND, MT (ASCP), received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and his Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. Dr. Ingels is the author of The Natural Pharmacist: Lowering Cholesterol (Prima, 1999) and Natural Treatments for High Cholesterol (Prima, 2000). He currently is in private practice at New England Family Health Associates located in Southport, CT, where he specializes in environmental medicine and allergies. Dr. Ingels is a regular contributor to Healthnotes and Healthnotes Newswire.
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