Over the course of this past year (and then some), three of my classmates and myself completed a unique senior research project (OCOM's equivalent to a Master's thesis). Our project was pursuing the feasibility of treating veterans with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) symptoms by using the group acupuncture model (everyone is treated in the same room using chairs instead of tables).
Our project began with the intent to open a free group clinic for veterans, where we would be able to needle them and change the world with the help of NIH (National Institute of Health) funds, endless supplies, and eventual support from the VA. However.....we are students, and both insurance and liability are very limited. The idea of us actually needling on a non-intern site is a pretty difficult hoop to jump through, and can take longer than one year, which is all we had. After several changes, we decided to do a qualitative study instead. We interviewed several practitioners about their experience in treating veterans, and if they had any advice for us, what points they would use, etc. We learned a lot about treating those with PTSD, and realized that it could be done the way we thought it could.
This project spiked a lot of interest both within ourselves and at our school, and it looks like we have a new group of students who are going to carry on with the project next year. The next phase of the project will be interviewing veterans in a group acupuncture setting, hopefully at a site that is already treating veterans with group acupuncture.
I posted some information a few months ago on Veterans Day about veterans assistance (outside of the VA) in the Portland area. Our interest was peaked after the first phase partly because of the Portland Veterans Acupuncture Project (PVAP), which offers free acupuncture to veterans and their families on Thursday evenings in Southeast Portland.
There is a real need for more research on PTSD in returning veterans, and I'm very happy that our group was able to take this project as far as we have, and we're really looking forward to see what the next group will do with it. I'm hoping it's a small start to something big.