USAF Veteran and Physician, Amy Coleman, MD speaks on the
natural fit between medical acupuncture and military medicine

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Physician Amy Coleman is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, former flight surgeon, and founder of a pioneering company focused on bridging empathy and technology to make for better primary care.
She is also a true believer in medical acupuncture.
“Acupuncture is a preemptive strike,” she said. “It moves us out of the realms of disease and the infirm, and treats them before they happen.”
Coleman’s first encounter with medical acupuncture was at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany more than 10 years ago.
At the time, she was based at nearby Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the transit destination for some of the most serious casualties medevaced out of Iraq and Afghanistan en route back to the U.S.
As a physician, Coleman treated fighter pilots as well as a number of higher echelon flag officers and attachés from nearby embassies.
She remembered one three-star general who struggled with pain control after a back surgery, and although skeptical, he agreed to receive an acupuncture treatment from Dr. Richard Niemtzow, who was visiting Ramstein AFB at the time.
With just a few needles placed in his back and hip, the general could walk without pain, much to his disbelief.
When Coleman witnessed the outcome, she said to herself: “I really need to get trained in this.”

Adapt, Overcome, Evolve

From the outset, she could see how  medical acupuncture would be especially effective in military medicine.

The Value of Medical Acupuncture

“It embodies everything we value in the military,” she said. “It’s portable and sustainable. It works with the body.”
Service members are elite athletes, she added, and acupuncture can be used to enhance peak performance, much like it’s used in the National Football League.
“It falls in line with military thinking: adapt, overcome, and evolve,” Coleman said. “Acupuncture allows you to think in those ways – you have a way through your illness without making you weaker.”

Stopping Illness in Its Tracks

When Coleman was first learning acupuncture, her fiancé served as her practice model.
He was in Special Forces and served as a pararescueman, an elite cadre of Airmen involved in rescue operations in humanitarian and combat environments.
Coleman said that her fiancé had just returned from an intense ice climbing mountain rescue training exercise in Alaska and was coming down with the symptoms of a severe flu: fever, deep chills, muscle aches, and joint pain.
She treated him with an acupuncture protocol to turbocharge his immune system.
“The next morning he woke up feeling 100% better,” she said. “But then I came down with the same symptoms and couldn’t reach the right acupuncture points on myself.”
Coleman had come down with the swine flu.
“The power of acupuncture to stop something in its tracks before it got out of hand made me a believer,” she said.Since leaving the U.S. Air Force in 2008, Coleman now leads her own company and is committed to teaching doctors the power of empathy and compassion, and helping them to treat the whole person.
Medical acupuncture will play an important role.
“Acupuncture changes the mentality of physicians so that they understand they have more tools in their toolbox,” she said. “It boils down to a provider knowing he or she can do more than just prescribe a pill.”

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