From diets rich in hot peppers for the prevention of viral infections, bleach baths to treat diseases and homeopathy for virtually any symptom, questionable treatments have multiplied during the COVID-19 pandemic and false health information has spread as rapidly as the virus itself.
Of course, specific medical practices did not begin (and certainly will not end) with SARS-CoV-2, but many doctors say they now feel “scared”, “deflated” and unprepared in the face of conversations with patients about unproven approaches.
“It is our professional duty to understand the prevailing pseudosciences in our culture,” he says Steven Novella, MD, associate professor of clinical neurology at Yale University School of Medicine and executive editor of the blog Science-based medicine, which takes a hard line on everything from chiropractic medicine to acupuncture. But discussing these issues with patients can be a challenge, especially if they already invest time, energy, and money in therapies for which there is no empirical evidence.
Disunion of pseudoscience
One of these practices that has been growing in popularity is the so-called quantum neurology, a nervous system rehabilitation system registered by a trademark developed by chiropractor George González. It is intended to help with everything from spinal cord injury a autism and uses a hand-held electromechanical instrument such as ArthroStim combined with LED and infrared lights. A pack of 10 pre-programmed devices is priced at $ 14,000 on González’s website.
The term “quantum neurology” is a bit of a “word salad,” says David Putrino, PT, Ph.D. in neuroscience and director of innovation in Mount Sinai health system rehabilitation in New York City. “A lot of the fundamentals are linking concepts that aren’t usually linked.”
Through his books, live demonstrations, and online classroom, González claims to have trained more than 400 chiropractors in the United States and Canada in his method. This is a small part of the more than 80,000 licensed chiropractors in North America, but it means the method has potentially reached thousands of patients.
Gonzalez, who could not be contacted, has relied almost exclusively on patient testimony rather than scientific evidence or research to support the advancement of “quantum neurology.” The first and most prominent story comes from González’s wife, Lori, who reportedly suffered something similar. cauda equina syndrome and subsequent sensory paralysis but recovered with the use of the “quantum neurology” system.
Despite their lack of scientific rigor, these testimonials may reflect a patient’s actual experience, Putrino says. “These things can also be perpetuated in terms of a placebo effect,” he says. A doctor’s performance and conviction “can create a state of belief in your patient: a neurophysiological state in which people expect more intensely something to happen.” As a result, they may experience a remarkable recovery. But that doesn’t mean the methods they used to feel better are scientifically sound.
Using science to combat a patient’s personal experience can be frustrating for doctors, leading some to wonder if it’s worth fighting for. “The most popular saying you hear from these people who create them [placebo] the effects are, “Who cares as these people get better?” “Diu Putrino.” It’s tempting to think that way, but I think it’s also worth acknowledging that a lot of people experience an abandonment as they leave the practice. “
Although recovery may be short-lived, patient fidelity to pseudoscientific treatment may persist. “You end up in this situation of maybe having an effect, but it’s not a lasting effect, and these people get stuck in payment plans and programs that go on forever, and it can become quite predatory,” Putrino says.
Enough evaluative alternatives
It is important to separate predatory exploitation from complementary and alternative medical practices. For more reasonable interventions, there is usually at least some evidence that can be evaluated to determine the rigor and relevance for the case of an individual patient.
He National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, for example, is the largest U.S. government organization dedicated to researching “various medical, health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine.” Everything from yoga to acupuncture has been evaluated, and it has been found that some of these practices can be helpful, at least in certain cases. Acupuncture, for example, is indicated for certain conditions, including headaches, migraines, and postoperative pain, the same conditions that someone may try to control with a pseudoscientific alternative such as “quantum neurology.”
When asked for feedback on this particular practice, the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) reiterated its support for “evidence-based care and generally accepted good practices based on current and high-level research. quality “. The ACA stated that it had a code of ethics that “chiropractors should not mislead patients into false or unjustified expectations of favorable treatment outcomes and that advertising would not mislead patients or exploit their vulnerability.”
Straight register configuration
According to Novella and Putrino, the key to conversations with patients about unproven medical approaches is honesty and transparency. They both acknowledge that being too aggressive in dismantling a pseudoscientific claim can alienate patients. They encourage talking about the fundamentals of the scientific method and helping people evaluate research that is based on a particular practice.
What they are not advocating is simply dismissing the issue or ignoring pseudoscientific claims. Physicians “must have a reasonable working knowledge of alternative claims, especially within their own specialty,” Novella says. “Patients will ask them about it, and if they shrug or say, ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I haven’t heard of it,’ the patient will trust the charlatan.”
Putrino says it’s important to have an open mindset about what the patient is looking for. “If a patient is looking for something like this [“quantum neurology”], that means they don’t get what they need, “Putrino says.” Perhaps the reason they came across this website is because they are looking for something more holistic. “When Putrino identifies these feelings in a patient, he can refer them to a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine for acupuncture.
“If a patient doesn’t move forward and looks elsewhere, we should lean on that,” Putrino says. “Instead of pushing and trying to resist, let’s see if we can guide you in a direction a little more grounded in good practice and effectiveness.
“The general and general concept here is to get the job done,” Putrino says. “We’re far beyond the days when clinicians can only tell patients, ‘It’s nonsense, don’t do it.’
Eleanor Cummins is a freelance journalist whose work runs the gamut of science. His work has appeared in Vox, National Geographic and The Atlantic.
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