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Surprising Science

Acupuncture on the Frontlines

The Navy is experimenting with acupuncture and soothing atmospherics to treat Marines suffering from mild cases of traumatic brain injury—the most prevalent wound of the Afghan war.

What’s the Latest Development?

Acupuncture is becoming a more common treatment for concussions, insomnia and other conditions all-too-common for soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. “I think a couple years down the road, this will be standard care,” said Commander Keith Stuessi, a sports-medicine specialist. “The newest Defense Department and Department of Veterans Affairs clinical guidelines recommend acupuncture as a supplementary therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, pain, anxiety and sleeplessness.” Acupuncture’s success rate coupled with its negligible costs are increasingly making the treatment an important tool in the military’s medical kit. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Alternative medicine is catching on in perhaps the unlikeliest of places: the American military. In the theater of war closest to the Orient, the armed forces are taking lessons learned thousands of years ago by the Chinese. Nobody is exactly sure why acupuncture is effective at treating common battlefield conditions like concussions and insomnia, but treatment of soldiers continues while researchers investigate how it works. As with many technologies and procedures that have passed from the battlefield into the civilian world, be on the lookout for an acupuncture specialist near you. 


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