July 23, 2008

Energy Therapy Gets Hands-on: Grant Helps Cover Cost of ?Unruffling’ Treatment

By Emily Hohenwarter, Times-News, Burlington, N.C.

Jul. 23--In a dim room with instrumental music playing, Becky Springer moves her hands inches above Brenda Ford's body in a wavelike motion. The women are a few minutes into a Healing Touch therapy session.

Springer, a certified Healing Touch practitioner at Alamance Regional Medical Center, calls what she's doing "unruffling." She is smoothing out the energy surrounding Ford to achieve balance in the body.

Because of a grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation, patients like Ford, who is a breast cancer survivor, can be "unruffled" free of charge.

The $27,522 grant pays the costs of the therapy for women who have received abnormal mammogram results and those with a history of breast cancer. It also supports a program aimed to educate the community about Healing Touch and provides transportation for patients unable to get to and from the hospital otherwise.

Healing Touch is designed to work in conjunction with traditional Western medicine. Patients like Ford use it to combat stress and achieve physical and spiritual wellness. The therapy is an energybased treatment similar to yoga or acupuncture in that it works to balance the flow of energy through channels in the body.

Energy can seem like a vague concept, but Springer defines it easily.

"I explain it this way to people," Springer said. "If you go in a room and there's a person that's real negative, how does that make you feel? Usually the same way.

"If you're around somebody that's really positive and upbeat and very optimistic, there's an energy about that. It's something you can't see, that's why it's so hard to define," she added.

Springer and her colleague Jackie Allen try to balance this energy in their patients by using techniques like "unruffling" and acupressure. Springer said that when she first started giving the therapy, she couldn't feel a person's energy, but now she can sense it. She uses the energy she feels to guide each session.

"I feel a pulsating in my hands," Springer said. "There's a natural pulsating and I'm not moving my hands, the energy is." The patients who receive Healing Touch treatments are avid proponents.

"I was a cancer patient," Ford said. "It was just very stressful. Seemed like I was tense all the time. This has really helped." Elena Maxwell, a lymphoma patient, said she tried other alternative wellness techniques like acupuncture, but decided that Healing Touch works best for her.

"Whether you think you're getting something out of it or not, you walk out of there feeling energized and relaxed," Maxwell said.

For some other patients, Healing Touch provides a caring, comfortable environment in the face of cancer treatment. "I had breast cancer and I had a mastectomy," said Tina Brown, who receives regular Healing Touch treatments. "It really helped with that, the anxiety and going through chemo. Just to have somewhere to go and just be able to focus on myself, just to talk and to cry if I wanted to." Springer and Allen perform anywhere from eight to 15 sessions a week. So far, they've done approximately 450 sessions this year, almost double last year's number at this time.

In addition to the patients sponsored by the Komen grant, the therapy is free for all cancer patients at Alamance Regional and for the center's staff. It is available to other people for a fee of $40 per hourly session.

Springer stresses that Healing Touch won't work for everyone in the same way.

"I work with some people and they can't tell it's helping," she said. "I always say I'm not trying to sell snake oil. It's just if it's something that you're interested in, try it and see if it will help." The therapy is available as often as needed. Men can receive Healing Touch as well. For more information, call 538-7475.

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