Sunday, 8 May 2011

Hiroshi`s report

On April 5, 2011, I left my hometown of Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture for Miyagi Prefecture, to work in Miyagi as an acupuncture and moxibustion volunteer for disaster victims until April 17 travelling about 900 km (one-way) by motorcycle.  
Before starting this volunteer activity, I had visited Matsushima Town as a member of the Advance Volunteer Party from Hyogo Prefecture in March. Since I had got acquainted with an officer in the municipal government there at that time, I communicated with him after returning to Nishinomiya to arrange my schedule and visited Miyagi Prefecture alone again to resume my activity as an acupuncture and moxibustion volunteer.
During the stay in Miyagi, I made a 30-km round trip by motorcycle between Shichigahama Town and Matsushima Town everyday, seeing towns, stores, houses, and everything that was destroyed by the tsunami. The sights deprived me of words, and I could only shed tears.
People in the Tohoku area are relatively reserved in personality and tend not to express t heir needs frankly but just say, so I needed some time to break the ice and get friendly with them, and I could gradually build an easier relationship with them.Once becoming friendly with them, they started telling me about their symptoms and other emotional problems. A lot of people there were deprived of their houses and families by the tsunami, and moreover, there were those who even lost their whole hometown.
A lot of people were devastated, heart and soul, by mental wounds and physical fatigue caused by the disaster. Sorrow, emptiness, anger, anxiety... with such troublesome feelings, they were trying to live cheerfully and vigorously.
My acupuncture techniques are basically those in which the therapist touches needles on the skin of patients, this is called contact needling. The needles are made of various types of metals such as gold, silver or copper. I sometimes rub the patient`s skin with these needles, and sometimes hit the head of a needle to cause a vibration in the body. This is one of the traditional methods in Japan.
In the Tohoku area, strong aftershocks continue to occur even now, more than one month after the disaster. In an earthquake-stricken area, where aftershocks often happen, people may suddenly be shaken, shocked, or hit (they may fall down or some falling objects may hit them). If an acupuncturist uses a treatment in which a needle stays in the body for a certain period of time, the needle may hurt the patient when an aftershock occurs. Also, if many needles stay in a patient`s body, it`s difficult for the patient to quickly escape if/when an aftershock occurs. Contact needling eliminates the above worries because needles do not stay in the body of patients but they just touch the skin. Contact needling is also safe in terms of hygiene. 
In disaster areas, maintaining a high hygiene level is often difficult. If perfect sterilization of medical implements cannot always be ensured, contact needling, without pricking the skin of patients, is relatively safe from bacterial infection and other contamination. Acupuncturists are also safe from infection passed through the blood if they use contact needling. Contact needling is also good for sufferers in disaster areas who are scared of needles and acupuncture.
Typical symptoms that I saw included physical fatigue, insomnia, constipation, high blood pressure, lumbago, knee pain, and stiff shoulders. Many of those who complained that they had not been able to sleep very well since the earthquake said they were able to sleep well after receiving continual treatments from me.There were many of those who had developed serious constipation from stress. I treated them with contact needling on their abdomens, and many of them told me that the constipation was relieved quite well.
I also used the contact needles on children with asthma, strabismus from stress, tics, and night cries. The treatment I used for children is called "pediatric acupuncture," which is based on systematized techniques and theories. As for moxibustion therapy, I mainly used self-adhesive moxibustion plasters. Anyone can easily use these plasters by themselves, and so can treat themselves. 
At first, residents of the camps were giving me a wide berth (many of them were quite reserved), but after several days, more and more of them began to ask me if I could treat them that day. I had few patients at first, but I ended up treating nearly 30 patients in a day by the end of the trip. 
Sixteen years ago, I experienced the Great Hanshin Earthquake. I heard that many people from the Tohoku area came to help us in our time of need, so, I am very eager to do what I can in return.
Hiroshi Yamamoto, acupuncture and moxibustion therapist


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