When the National Institutes of Health assigned the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine the task of defining complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), the NCCAM eventually produced a definition that classified CAM into five broad domains: alternative medical systems, mind-body interventions, biologically based therapies, manipulative and body-based therapies, and energy therapies.Using those five domains as a reference point, the Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus has created the OSU Center for Integrative Medicine (OSUCIM). The purpose of the center, which opened in February, is to combine the best of mainstream medicine with chiropractic and a host of other complementary therapies, allowing for evidence-based, patient-centered health care that treats not only a patient's body, but also their mind and spirit.
According to Glen Aukerman, MD, the center's medical director, "The center provides traditional medical services and can help patients select the complementary practices best suited for their condition and personal philosophy." Dr. Aukerman is a prime example of the spirit in which the center was created: in addition to being a family practice physician, he is also a recognized Reiki master, and co-directs a complementary medicine program for medical students in Ohio State's College of Medicine and Public Health.
"Although many of the patients who seek out complementary practices are knowledgeable and know what they want, others may be confused about which practice is right for them," Dr. Aukerman asserts. "We work with patients to ensure that their integrative practices fit into their overall health plan. We also work with referring physicians who feel their patients may benefit from these practices."
The center consists of a 6,400 square-foot building divided into more than 30 treatment rooms and facilities. Services offered at the center include traditional forms of care, such as family medicine and sports medicine, and more than two-dozen alternative therapies, representing all of the NCCAM's domains for complementary and alternative medicine. Currently, both chiropractic and sports chiropractic are available treatment options.
Manipulative & Body-Based Therapies
- Sports chiropractic
- Swedish massage
- CranioSacral Therapy
- Neuromuscular therapy
- Myofascial therapies
- Sports massage
- Stone massage
Alternative Medical Systems
- Acupuncture (traditional Chinese medicine)
- Addiction counseling
- Guided imagery
- Therapeutic touch
- Polarity therapy
Biologically Based Therapies
- Dietitian services
- Herbal counseling
- Nutritional counseling
- Nutraceutical prescription
- Ortho-molecular therapy
Patients may self-refer themselves to the center's providers for treatment, or they may be referred by their primary care provider or specialist.
Two physicians, six alternative health care providers and five staff members currently work at the center, including three doctors of chiropractic: Robin Hunter, DC; Kris Keller, DC; and Grant Lewis, DC. Dr. Hunter describes the center's opening and how its services have already expanded:
"Three chiropractors were asked to join this very exciting new project. We moved our private practices in Columbus to OSUCIM the first week it opened on Feb. 21, 2005. The second week, our two family doctors/holistic medicine/Reiki practitioners started seeing patients. With the third week, we have the massage therapists, and (the) ayurvedic medicine doctor, and so on. Our acupuncturist and mind-body practitioners are now practicing as well."
Research and education are other integral components of the center. For residents and medical students, the center will allow them the opportunity to examine the role complementary and alternative medicine plays in relation to their specialty. Eventually, the center plans to conduct collaborative studies involving both CAM practitioners and traditional health care providers, which will help to define the role of integrative medicine in the health care field.
"The educational component is unfolding as we speak," notes Dr. Hunter. "Community education classes, workshops and symposiums are being scheduled. The center will interface with the medical school. We will have medical students, interns and residents rotate through our facility. We (the DCs) hope chiropractic externs can rotate here as well in the future. Research will be done at a later date. OSU's research department has a researcher assigned to us already."
The Center for Integrative Medicine at Ohio State University has long been a dream of Dr. Aukerman and others interested in the blending of complementary and mainstream forms of care. Dr. Mary Jo Welker, chair of OSU's Department of Family Medicine, said that she has lobbied for the creation of such a program for several years. She hopes the center will help to resolve some of the misconceptions medical doctors may have about alternative therapies, and allow patients to feel more comfortable discussing these therapies with a physician.
"I guess you can say it has been a labor of love," Dr. Welker said. "We were just not willing to give up, and now we're finally going to get there."
Editor's note: As noted at the beginning of this article, the OSU Center for Integrative Medicine is modeled after the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, with practitioners in each of the five domains defined by the NCCAM. The NCCAM recently included "manipulation" in its Expanding Horizons of Health Care Strategic Plan 2005-2009. For more information, visit www.chiroweb.com/archives/23/09/15.html.
- Bell J. OSU center bids to blend traditional, alternative care. Business First of Columbus, Feb. 25, 2005.
- Medical students get increased dose of alternative medicine. The Ohio State University College of Medicine & Public Health News, Mar. 29, 2004.
- Caring for the Whole Person. Ohio State University Medical Center press release, Mar. 28, 2005.
- What Is Integrative Medicine at The OSU Center for Integrative Medicine? Ohio State University Medical Center press release, March 2005.
- E-mail from Robin Hunter, DC, to Dynamic Chiropractic, April 3, 2005.
Written by Michael Devitt, senior associate editor at MPA Media.