Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Healing Power

bal·ne·ol·o·gy
n.
The science of baths or bathing, especially the study of the therapeutic use of mineral baths.

I personally do not recommend breaking your wrist in Japan. Though, I have to admit, unless you are a millionaire and can afford to stop working and focus on recovery, Japan is the country to have a fracture. Medical care notwithstanding - there are many fine doctors here, including some who have been certified in the US - Japan has quite a unique asset that promotes scar regeneration, fracture healing, and sensory recovery.

The onsen, once again, source of all things pleasurable and beautiful in Japan, is a useful recourse during any kind of recovery. Although there are hot springs tailored to specific ailments (Shimobe Onsen claims to have a significant effect on fractures), any soak in hot water is therapeutic. Add minerals from millions of years of traveling through volcanic veins and water that is several degrees above western standards of comfort, and you've got just the right mix of metaphorical morphine and glucosamine.

Scars
The appearance of scars following surgery can be reduced by massaging the area softly for a few minutes each day, but soaking and moisturizing the area helps.

Nerves
After your casted limb is once again exposed to the world of hot, cold, wet, dry, pain, and pleasure, you'll probably find that the nerves don't exactly work quite the way they used to. Oh, you can feel everything all right, but it's like a duller, softer sensation. In actuality, the nerves below the skin's surface feel very inactive. When you do soak them for the first time in the soothing waters of a neighborhood onsen, the change will be immediately obvious: you start to feel stronger and stronger sensations rising from the utmost depths of the body to the surface of the injured limb. But without strong, overwhelming sensations (hot water, excessive movement...), the nerves may never relearn how to feel as you once felt.

Bones
Some doctors recommend that your wear a special glove or covering, designed to release a small electric charge through the site of the injury; your body creates this electrical charge naturally through movement of the limb, but if you're still restricted and want to promote early healing, electricity will help.

From the onsen? The denki furo (電気風呂), or electric bath, is a feature in many onsen that allows you to soak between two oppositely charged plates and reap the rewards of mild stimulation. Between 3-5 minutes is considered beneficial.

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