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Complementary Therapies for Physical Therapy. A Clinical Decision-Making Approach.

Complementary Therapies for Physical Therapy. A Clinical Decision-Making Approach. Judith E. Deutsch and Ellen Zambo Anderson (Eds). 2008. Saunders Elsevier, St Louis, Missouri, ISBN: 13: 978-0-7216-0111-3. Hard cover, 327 pages. RRP NZ$196,

The stated purpose of this new text is to provide physiotherapy students and clinicians a resource on those complementary therapies they are most likely to encounter in clinical practice. The clinical decision making approach (which forms the basis for most of the book) is designed to incorporate elements of evidence-based practice into assessment of the appropriateness of featured therapies for a given patient. As the authors acknowledge, while this may well date some of the material (i.e. in terms of the evidence included for the particular case studies presented), the underlying principle of clinical decision-making informed by best evidence should be timeless.

The book comprises 23 chapters, starting with an introduction to Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) use (Chapter 1), including cultural, medicolegal and ethical issues (Chapter 3), and an outline of the conceptual framework for the clinical decision-making approach used in subsequent chapters (Chapter 2). The remainder of the book is logically structured around five broad categories of CAM therapies: whole medical systems (acupuncture, arnica/homeopathy), mind-body therapies (yoga; Tai Chi), biologically-based therapies (gingko biloba; glucosamine chondroitin), energy therapies (therapeutic touch, qigong, magnets, reiki), and manipulative and body-based therapies (Rolfing, Feldenkrais, Alexander technique, craniosacral therapy, Pilates). For each category of CAM, an overview chapter is first presented, followed by individual chapters focussed on a particular therapy. The therapy-based chapters each start with presentation of a relevant clinical case, followed by an examination and critique of the relevant literature, a PICO analysis, and then an overview of the clinical decision making process for the patient (i.e. clinical hypothesis, examination, intervention and evaluation, outcomes).

Given the growing interest and use of CAM (even among the general population), Complementary Therapies for Physical Therapy represents an important new book in the field; it should therefore be a useful resource for any physiotherapy school or departmental library. Notwithstanding its intention as a reference book, and the complexity of some of the topics covered, the material is presented in a clear and highly readable format, and the book is well illustrated with photographs, figures and tables to aid the reader's understanding. The book's key feature is its focus on evidence-based decision making, which should apply as readily to CAM, as to any other therapeutic intervention.

This book represents an ambitious project, and in attempting to cover the breadth of the CAM field, there are obviously areas which receive only superficial treatment; one might also query the lack of chapters on chiropractic or osteopathy. Conversely, while the inclusion of therapies such Arnica might help to illustrate the range of available (and widely used) CAM treatments, inclusion within the current text are liable to raise a few eyebrows among sceptics. The other (minor) limitation of the book is its focus (i.e. USA), particularly in the early chapters, and in the inclusion of material on spirituality (commonly included in consideration of CAM in the USA, but less so elsewhere). This aside, the book should still prove a useful resource for a New Zealand readership, whether novice or cognoscenti.

G David Baxter TD BSc(Hons) DPhil PhD MBA MCSP MNSP, Professor and Dean, Centre for Physiotherapy Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago
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Author:Baxter, G. David
Publication:New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy
Article Type:Book review
Date:Nov 1, 2008
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