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Integrative Healthcare For The Underserved

By Eve Adler

August 25, 2016

"Integrative Healthcare," Bumbershoot, Inc.
“Integrative Healthcare,” Bumbershoot, Inc.

A challenging aspect of empowering underserved populations to make informed healthcare decisions has been providing the awareness of, and the opportunity to experience the myriad healthcare options that are available. These options not only include allopathic or conventional interventions, they are more than ever encompassing complementary—and what was previously deemed alternative— modalities.


Complementary modalities are practiced in addition to conventional medicine. Alternative modalities are practiced instead of utilizing conventional medicine. The integration of complementary and conventional medicine for health promotion and maintenance can benefit the healthcare of the nation.


The vision of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is to define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and integrative health interventions and their roles in improving health and health care ( In addition to studying the usefulness of complementary modalities, attention needs to be given to the reality of access for all people. Are integrative practices accessible and affordable for low income, underserved populations?


Venice Family Clinic’s Simms Mann Health and Wellness Center in Venice, California is making this possible. The center is the nation’s first health, wellness, and integrative medicine program offered at a free community clinic. It provides a wide range of evidence based integrated services which focus on the whole person and the whole family. In addition to high-quality conventional medical care, integrative medicine services that include disease management, prevention and wellness programs are also offered. Multi-modality approaches to chronic disease are utilized including mind-body, acupuncture, chiropractic, and yoga therapy.

The focus of the integrative medicine program is to show that integrative medicine is for everyone. The clinic brings integrative medicine resources to underserved low-income populations.


For those seeking an integrative healthcare practitioner at little or low cost start by doing some research. First, check out Integrative Medicine Access (IMA) at The mission of IMA is to facilitate accessibility to Integrative Medicine among low-income and medically underserved people.   Next, look for professional associations in your area where there are groups of practitioners who have expressed interest in serving underserved populations at little or no cost. Tune into the program to find out more.


On August 11th, HealthCetera Radio producer and Senior Fellow Eve Adler, RN, RYT, explores issues related to integrative health practices among the underserved.  Joining her in this discussion are Dr. Myles Sparr, Director of Integrative Medicine and faculty at UCLA David Geffen School of Integrative Medicine, and Ryan Woodson, Program Manager of the Integrative Medicine Program. Together they direct and manage integrative services offered at a free community clinic in Venice, California.


The program opens with HealthCetera producer Diana Mason, RN, PhD, welcoming Eve back to HealthCetera after a 20 year hiatus.

So tune in on Thursday at 1:00 to HealthCetera Radio on WBAI, 99.5 FM in New York City, or streaming online at; or you can listen to the interview anytime by clicking here:

HealthCetera is sponsored by the Center for Health, Media & Policy.

Eve Adler

The NYS Health Foundation and Building Health Communities

By Diana J. Mason

August 25, 2016



As our nation realizes that we need to move resources from costly acute care to efforts that can promote the health of individuals, families and communities, foundation are increasingly integrating into their funding portfolios a focus on building healthy communities. One such foundation is the New York State Health Foundation. The Foundation has two primary strategies to do this work. One is to support “neighborhood-level and policy interventions to increase residents’ access to healthy, affordable food options; opportunities for physical activity; and other initiatives that encourage healthy living.” Launched in January of 2015, its Healthy Neighborhood Fund Initiative initially invested in six communities, including three in New York City. These communities are developing partnerships with various organizations, government and private entities to engage in the longterm work that is required to build healthier places to live, work and play.


On Thursday, August 25th, HealthCetera Producer Diana Mason, PhD, RN, interviews Lourdes Rodriquez, Program Officer who heads the Foundation’s Building Healthy Communities work. They discuss the Foundation’s aims, strategies and progress to date in these six communities. So tune into HealthCetera at 1:30PM on Thursday, August 25th for the second half of HealthCetera on WBAI, 99.5 FM in New York City or streaming at Or you can listen to the interview anytime by clicking here:

HealthCetera is sponsored by the Center for Health, Media & Policy.

Diana J. Mason
Diana is a founder of the Center for Health, Media & Policy, and HealthCetera Radio. She is the President of the American Academy of Nursing, the Rudin Professor of Nursing at Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing, and a health policy expert and leader. Diana tweets @djmasonrn.

Can Virtual Reality Decrease The Risk of Fall?

By Alice Benjamin

August 23, 2016

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. Falls threaten seniors’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention one-third of Americans aged 65+ falls each year. And every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a falls. Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths. But according to a small research study, combining the therapeutic use of virtual reality and treadmill training is likely to help prevent falls in older adults better than treadmill training alone.



The intervention, which combines the physical and cognitive aspects of walking, consists of a camera that captures the movement of participants’ feet and projects it onto a screen in front of the treadmill, so that participants may ‘see’ their feet walking on the screen in real time. Researchers asked nearly 300 adults aged 60 to 90 who had already experienced at least one prior fall to exercise on a treadmill three times a week for six weeks, randomly assigning half of them to use virtual reality systems during the workouts.


When training started, both groups had similar experiences with falls – the treadmill-only group had an incident rate of 10.7 falls in the previous six months compared with rate of 11.9 for the virtual reality group. Six months after training, however, the incident rate dropped significantly only in the virtual reality group – to six falls in six months – while it was little changed for the treadmill-only group, according to researchers.


The goal of the study was to use the virtual reality environment to safely train both the motor or gait aspects that are important to fall risk, while also implicitly teaching the participants to improve the cognitive functions that are important for safe ambulation, said lead study author Anat Mirelman of Tel Aviv University and Center for the Study of Movement, Cognition and Mobility, Neurological Institute in Israel.


Study results showed that this type of training is effective in reducing falls and fall risk in a large diverse population, said Mirelman. Thus the findings support the use of motor cognitive training to enhance health and reduce fall risk in a growing older population. In addition to a history of falls, the participants also had other risk factors for repeat tumbles such as impaired motor skills or cognitive function.


Participants were around 73 to 74 years old on average. About 130 of them had Parkinson’s disease, which can rob people of motor control, 43 had mild cognitive impairment and 109 had a history of falls without a clear medical reason.

Researchers asked each participant to move at a comfortable pace during 45-minute sessions on the treadmill. Half of the participants also used virtual reality systems consisting of a motion-capture camera and a computer-generated simulation projected on to a large screen.


This virtual reality experience was designed to lower the risk of falls by improving how well participants could navigate obstacles, multiple pathways and distractions that required a constant adjustment in the way they stepped on the treadmills. Immediately after the six weeks of training, participants in both groups had improvements in walking speed in usual situations as well as those with obstacles. But the virtual reality group generally had a more varied gait while maneuvering around obstacles, the study found. Obstacle clearance was also better in the virtual reality group.


While this technology appeared effective, the study didn’t assess how much it would cost to provide virtual reality treadmill training to a broad population of older adults at risk for falls. One limitation of the study is its reliance on self-reported data on falls before training, which makes it possible that the measurement of improvements attributed to the training may have been inaccurate, the authors note. Even so, the study adds to growing evidence suggesting fall prevention for the elderly needs to address both motor skills and cognitive skills necessary to safely navigate an environment that may not always include perfectly flat, well-lit paths.There have been several pilot studies that have found exergames involving balance and step training have improved balance reaction time, stepping performance and cognitive function – all known risk factors for falls.

Alice Benjamin
Nurse Alice Benjamin is a CHMP Senior Fellow, and cardiac clinical nurse specialist in Los Angeles, CA. With nearly two decades of experience in nursing care, Nurse Alice is now a health media expert, writer, and frequent guest expert on the Dr. Oz Show, and others. She tweets @AskNurseAlice and her personal website is