Data-Mining Techniques for an Analysis Of Non-Conventional Methodologies: Deciphering of Alternative Medicine

Data-Mining Techniques for an Analysis Of Non-Conventional Methodologies: Deciphering of Alternative Medicine

William Claster (Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Japan), Nader Ghotbi (Asia Pacific University, Japan) and Subana Shanmuganathan (Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-266-4.ch006
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Abstract

Some common methodologies in our everyday life are not based on modern scientific knowledge but rather a set of experiences that have established themselves through years of practice. As a good example, there are many forms of alternative medicine, quite popular, however difficult to comprehend by conventional western medicine. The diagnostic and therapeutic methodologies are very different and sometimes unique, compared to that of western medicine. How can we verify and analyze such methodologies through modern scientific methods? We present a case study where data-mining was able to fill this gap and provide us with many tools for investigation. Osteopathy is a popular alternative medicine methodology to treat musculoskeletal complaints in Japan. Using data-mining methodologies, we could overcome some of the analytical problems in an investigation. We studied diagnostic records from a very popular osteopathy clinic in Osaka, Japan that included over 30,000 patient visits over 6 years of practice. The data consists of some careful measurements of tissue electro-conductivity differences at 5 anatomical positions. Data mining and knowledge discovery algorithms were applied to search for meaningful associations within the patient data elements recorded. This study helped us scientifically investigate the diagnostic methodology adopted by the osteopath.
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Background

In Japan, Chinese herbal medicine (kampo) which was originally introduced in the 5th and 6th century has been significantly modified by Japanese practitioners over a long time. Kampo was excluded from authorized medical practice about 100 years ago but is still, along with acupuncture, electro-acupuncture and moxibustion widely practiced and popular. In Japan, non-western medical treatments are sought for various ailments and illnesses in spite of the fact that medical practice in Japan is one of the most advanced in the world.

Modern osteopathy was probably started in the late 1800s by an American physician called Andrew Still. Osteopathy is now a quite established profession in the U.S.A. with many osteopaths diagnosing and treating medical problems using manual touch. They get training on how to feel (through palpation) the body´s anatomy, the texture and motion of tissues, the flow of fluids and its structural makeup. In osteopathy, the body´s innate power to heal itself is emphasized, and it is believed that previous physical trauma leaves its touch on the body’s structure. The osteopaths generally try to develop a strong sense of touch to detect physical problems, and to apply the exactly right amount of pressure to treat dysfunction in the motion of the tissues, restore movement of fluids and to release compressed joints and bones.

In Japan, a particular type of osteopathy that has its roots in the martial arts practice of Judo is also widespread and in contrast to most other non-conventional medical practices has achieved acceptance into the medical health system. In fact, some alternative practices in this area are recognized by the national health program and are covered by insurance plans. There are many schools of thought in osteopathy and some practitioners develop their own unique way of palpation and detection of anatomical problems.

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