Philip Niño Tan-Gatue
Manual of Acupuncture iOS App – A Review
Manual of Acupuncture – a great Peripheral Brain
Long long ago, in a galaxy far far away, I was a medical student. My days in the University of the Philippines College of Medicine are days that I will never trade for any other experience. I learned a lot, and I learned how to utilize every iota of anything I could get my hands on to help me survive. One of these survival tools is the so-called “P-brain” or “peripheral brain”. Quite simply, these were little booklets full of memorization gimmicks, acronyms, mnemonics, lists, tables and whatnot. Quite frankly, the amount of information needed to be processed by health care practitioners of ANY tradition is staggering. There are times when, especially when time is of the essence, we figuratively fumble in our heads for the required information. Since our normal brains are shell-shocked, we need to consult outside or “peripheral” brains. Hence the term.
The Rise of the Mobile OS
By the time I had ventured to study Chinese Medicine, the world had gotten it’s first taste of personal digital assistants and the first taste of true smartphones. I recall using acupuncture apps on my trusty Palm Treo 650 (may you rest in peace…).
Now, I am a self confessed iOS addict. Forgive me, android folks, but it just works for me.
Manual of Acupuncture
Based on the famous book of the same name by Peter Deadman, Mazin al-Kafaji and Kevin Baker, the mobile app is not as comprehensive as the textbook. Nonetheless, it remains a magnificent resource. Point illustrations are superb, showing underlying anatomic structures. Navigation is also easy. A typical point would be presented with it’s WHO number, English name, Chinese name in Pinyin and in Traditional Script. Any special property of the point is also immediately presented (i.e., Luo Connecting Point of the Lung Channel, etc etc).
Selection of Channels from the Manual of Acupuncture iOS app
Here we see the basic screen. Other than the basic points information, we get to see that the menu lists Indications and References.
Menu Items from the Main Screen of the Manual of Acupuncture iOS app.
Most importantly for me, there is an option to look at points not by channels alone but by area.
Cun measurements screen from the Manual of Acupuncture iOS app
The cun (inch) measurement screen is essential for beginners to learn how to properly locate acupoints.
Angles of Acupuncture Needle Insertion
These are part of the reference section of the app.
After clicking on a channel, this is the menu we get.
We can see here that the authors didn’t just focus on the main channel pathway, but also the other aspects such as sinew or muscle regions.
Tracing the Pathway of the Lung Meridian of Hand Taiyin from the iOS app a Manual of Acupuncture
This is the view after selecting the option “Lung Primary Channel”. Just as can be found in the book, we can see that the text traces the pathway of the Lung Meridian of Hand Taiyin. This is important because many acupuncturists have a tendency to go “cookbook” and just select points based on empirical use without considering the “off label” uses derived from other factors.
Entry for LU 6 Kongzui from Manual of Acupuncture iOS app
Here is a sample entry for one of my favorite points. We see that it shows the pinyin for the Chinese name, the traditional script for the Chinese name, plus the WHO code for the point. Note the link to video – more on that later. Any special characteristics of points are also shown. In this case, LU 6 Kongzui is the Xi-Cleft point of the Lung Meridian of Hand Taiyin.
The illustrations also clearly show the relationship of the point to nearby muscles, tendons, and other structures.
Entry for Lu 6 Kongzui in Manual of Acupuncture iOS app
Some apps merely list the traditional location description. This one gives practical location notes. It also lists cautions and contraindications such as pregnancy if applicable. Note also the specifics of needling angle and depth.
Actions and Applications of a Point in A Manual of Acupuncture iOS app
In western medical school, we didn’t just study what a particular drug was indicated for. We would study what the drug does and work on how it can be used from that. For example, we didn’t study atenolol as “to lower blood pressure” right away. We learned that atenolol blocks certain receptors which leads to a decrease in heart rate and then that leads to lower blood pressure.
In this case, we see what the point does (actions) and what does actions can do clinically.
Combinations from Manual of Acupuncture iOS app
Note also the research done on combinations noted from classic books.
Screenshot of Video showing location strategies from Manual of Acupuncture iOS app
Remember that video button? Clicking it will lead the user to a video clip demonstrating how to locate the point, as well as demonstrating needling angles.
All in all, I would recommend this app for the serious student or professional as an excellent supplement to the original book. Personally, I use this app more for teaching rather than for personal reference – the video clips help a lot as the demonstrator’s voice is much more soothing to the tired intern than my own. Sometimes I use this app to show patients where I plan to needle them.
There are those who may be turned off by the price tag, but I always believe that this is compensated by the act that almost all points (with just one or two exceptions) have corresponding video. Again, a wonderful teaching tool.