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Guidepoints January 2011
by Greg Schnabel
The NADA Gaza Strip project was designed to help civilian residents cope psychologically with the traumas of war and everyday life. For this project, teams of local health care professionals are trained in the NADA protocol for a period of 2 weeks. After receiving training, members of these teams provide ongoing care within their communities. This model empowers members of a community to help themselves and their neighbours and provides continuity of care in a region that is often difficult or impossible for international medical aid to access.
The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas on the planet. An estimated 1.5 million people currently live within a narrow strip of land approximately 25 miles long and 5 miles wide. Gaza’s residents have been subjected to repeated wars, blockades, seizures of land, home demolitions, and shortages of food, medicine and basic supplies. Movement of people or goods in or out is highly controlled by a blockade on its borders. The Gaza war in January 2009 killed between 1,100 and 1,400 people, destroyed 15 hospitals, thousands of homes and left approximately 50,000 people homeless.
A pre-war 2008 study of adult residents from Gaza revealed that 66% suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as defined by the criteria of the DSM-IV. The list of trauma inducing stressors on the civilian population of Gaza is extensive while at the same time there is a shortage of traditional psychological support services. There is a great need within this environment for the implementation of the NADA protocol and its simple approach to trauma and stress relief.
In April of 2010 a group of 13 local health care professionals were trained in the NADA protocol. The group included: 3 nurses, 4 pharmacists, 2 physiotherapists, 2 nursing students, 1 English student and 1 medical doctor. The training was structured as a teaching clinic, so that even during the training, many people were helped.
The 3-point version of NADA (Shen Men, Sympathetic and Lung) was taught to all the students initially because it is simpler to implement, conserves needles and is possibly just as effective for trauma treatment. The application of magnetic ear beads was taught especially for the large number of children being brought to the clinic with symptoms of PTSD.
This group of local health professionals has been working independently and voluntarily since April 2010, giving NADA treatments to civilian men, women and children who suffer from PTSD and other stress related illnesses at a variety of clinical locations in the Gaza Strip. This project is ongoing and in the future more groups will be trained to provide relief to even more people in the region. Below is a selection of first-hand reports shared by two members of the NADA Gaza Strip group.
Observations from Mahmoud Shamali, Pharmacist
“We began our first step in a small clinic, 1 day per week, after we first learned how to do NADA in April. The number of patients was too low at first and we began to be disappointed, but day after day the number of patients increased. It went from 5 clients in the 1st clinic to 30 clients in the 12th clinic. Most of the cases we have been treating in the clinic suffer from post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSD) because of the last war in Gaza. People come to our clinic with symptoms such as nocturnal enuresis, awakening in the middle of night and screaming suddenly, poor appetite, anxiety, insomnia, headache, Tramadol addiction as a way to escape temporarily from Gaza atmosphere, poor sleep habits and they are generally susceptible to stress due to the bad situations and troubles they face in the war.
We have been treating both genders and all the ages from 3 years old up to 80 years old. The results were unpredictable. They fall in love with NADA because they feel the benefit of this powerful treatment. Session after session they bring their relatives and friends to try it. So, the number of clients has increased gradually.
There are many cases we treated that I would like to speak about. Here is one successful case:
A man, 33 years old, suffers from pain in his shoulders. Easily susceptible to stress especially in front of people when all eyes are on him. He becomes very stressed to the point that his neck begins to shake suddenly without control.
In the first session I treated him using 3 points (Shen Men, Lung, Sympathetic). He felt light headedness, sleepiness and calmness. When he returned for a 2nd session he told me that throughout that day after the 1st session he became very calm and his abnormal movement in his neck decreased clearly. In the second session I treated him using 3 points with magnetic beads. He felt calmness and sleepiness without headache. After 2 days he returned.
Having missed one day without treatment he said: “after the first session the abnormal shaking decreased, and after the second session it disappeared completely, but the day I missed the needles shaking returned. So I treated him using 5 points with beads. He became very sleepy and the occipital pain he felt disappeared rapidly. In his 4th session he asked me to treat him with 5 points and to renew the pellets because his abnormal shaking in his neck had disappeared completely. He had given a presentation to a large number of people without shaking his neck. And he is going to continue the treatment in NADA Gaza clinic.”
Observations from Amal Hamad, Pharmacist
“I couldn’t imagine from the first moment I learned NADA that it has such a variety of effects on people since it involves simply the application of 3-5 points in each ear. It has an excellent and variant effect and in many cases clients have felt quiet, sleepy or increased concentration capabilities while others have felt decreased appetite for eating, drinking, smoking, etc.
The following are some case-studies:
A 46-year old woman who is a housewife and grandmother and suffered from insomnia received NADA sessions from me for 4 days. After the first day she could sleep a bit better. Every day she felt better and better. The fourth day she told me that she slept soundly and was quiet.
Another case is a man who suffered from great pain in the neck and back. He had undergone many operations but it was all in vain. He used to travel for surgeries and he suffered from weariness and couldn’t sleep for one week. Sometimes he could sleep for one or two hours in a week only. When I treated him with only one NADA session of 5 points in each ear, he told me that he had slept for three continuous days and felt quiet.
I used magnetic ear beads to treat many children in primary school who suffered from hyper activity, failure to concentrate in school or nocturnal enuresis. Those children told me that they could sleep soundly and had more concentration in study and many had improvements in their bed-wetting symptoms. They all shared this with their teacher in the class activities. They felt better, and they haven’t yet finished their treatment with NADA.”
The potential for the application of the NADA protocol within Gaza is vast. The NADA Gaza group hopes to collaborate with other clinics inside Gaza that offer more traditional psychological support services. If they succeed in doing so there will be a need for more trainings and more needles in clinics throughout Gaza.
In a country that has seen war and conflict for so many decades, the incidence of trauma can span generations. It is the sincere hope of all members of the NADA Gaza group that the relief NADA brings to individuals may have a ripple effect, helping to ease the burden of care placed upon families and society. We hope that by easing these burdens we contribute, in some small way, to peace.
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