[Los Angeles Business Journal] “UP FRONT” Needle Points: Samra, an acupuncture teaching and treatment facility, is adding Western imaging technology. (01/29/2009)
By Yoo Mi Chin, Contributing Reporter
Asian medicine has employed needles for centuries. Western medicine has employed imaging technology for decades. But now, the two will be used together.
Samra Acupuncture Spinal Center, a Los Angeles teaching and treatment facility, is adding X-ray and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines to its repertoire.
While the integration of Eastern and Western medicine isn’t new – Western doctors often prescribe Chinese herbs and acupuncture treatment – Samra claims to be the first facility in the Untied States to use contemporary imaging technology to help plan acupuncture care.
It’s another example of a culture mix that has brought strawberry smoothie boba drinks and knee-length kimonos to Los Angeles. This time, the cultural fusion is occurring in the health-care scene.
“It’s an overall trend in the industry to work toward an integrated health-care model, combining the best aspects of Western medicine and science with the time-tested traditions of Oriental medicine,” said Nathan Anderson, director of the clinic at Samra.
TCM, or Traditional Chinese Medicine, started incorporating aspects of Western health care in the 1960s. The practice has since been taught at Asian training clinics, said Brady Chin, dean of clinical education at Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Los Angeles, and president of the California State Oriental Medicine Association.
“Samra’s integrated setting is a fulfillment of the curriculum,” Chin said. “This practice is essential. Each system learns from one another. By adding the imaging technology, Samra’s goal is to provide the most accurate diagnoses and most effective treatments for its patients. Earlier this month, Kyung-Hee Lee, a Los Angeles lawyer, visited Samra because of knee pain caused by a torn ligament. Lee was asked to bring an MRI on his second visit to Samra, which didn’t have its scanner set up yet.
“I never had a 100 percent trust in Oriental medicine,” Lee said. “But seeing doctors observing and analyzing my symptoms based on an MRI film sheet, like orthopedic surgeons would do, gave me more trust.” He received acupuncture care from Samra and was pleased. “I’ve been surprised by the effects of the treatment, too.”
The addition of imaging devices is part of a bigger renovation at Samra that even extends to record-keeping. Instead of scribbled diagnoses filed in traditional wooden Chinese cabinets, the clinic is moving to an electronic system. “It’s easier for communication between facilities,” Anderson said. “And in the end, it’s much cheaper and more accurate.”
[Please note new clinic location: 2727 W. Olympic Blvd, Suite 210, Los Angeles, CA 90006. This new location does not have an X-Ray or MRI.]