Programs that offer health care and treatment procedures that fall outside the mainstream of conventional medical practice. Most alternative approaches provide preventive care in addition to treatment of established conditions, define health as more than just the absence of disease, focus on natural healing as the treatment of choice, avoid invasive procedures to the extent possible, and approach individuals holistically dealing with their mental, emotional and spiritual needs in addition to the physical body. Many have their origins in the medical systems of non-Western cultures or in ancient healing traditions. Some alternative therapies are used instead of traditional Western "biomedical" procedures; others are complementary, used in addition to conventional care.
Programs that provide special facilities for people who have received second and third degree burns to exterior surfaces of the body or to the respiratory tract that were caused by fire or excessive heat, flash explosions, hot steam or water, chemicals, electricity or radioactive substances or heat. Burn centres utilize a variety of equipment including sterilized rooms which have specially purified air to prevent infection, special beds and mattresses, heat shields rather than blankets and hyperbaric oxygen chambers which use concentrated oxygen to speed healing and prevent infection.
Programs that are based on the premise that optimum health is dependent on the degree to which the nervous system is operating efficiently and that dysfunction and disease are often caused by misalignments of the vertebrae which place pressure on nerve tissue and interfere with the conduction of nerve impulses to other parts of the body. Chiropractic treatment involves manipulation of the vertebrae to release pressure on the nervous tissue and restore the normal function of the nervous system.
Programs that provide comprehensive medical and/or surgical services on an inpatient or outpatient basis for people who have a targeted disease, condition or disorder.
Programs that help people who have a family history or other risk factors associated with a chronic disease such as heart disease and stroke, cancer and diabetes make lifestyle or other changes that can prevent the disease or limit the initial onset. In addition to health promotion activities that encourage healthy living, prevention also embraces early detection efforts, including screening at-risk populations, as well as strong community-clinical linkages to help ensure that people at high risk of chronic diseases have access to community resources and support to prevent, delay or manage chronic conditions once they occur. Some programs may provide preventive care interventions for people who have a broader array of health concerns.
Programs that provide equipment that is used to clean the blood of patients in whom one or both kidneys are defective or absent, and to remove excess accumulation of drugs or chemicals in the blood.
Programs that make necessary medical services available in the homes of people who are aged, ill or convalescing.
Programs that provide a full range of supportive services for terminally ill individuals who are in the final stages of their illnesses and for their families. Services may include medical care, pain and symptom management, home nurse visitation, case management, emotional and spiritual support, and bereavement services for the patient and members of the family. Hospice care may be provided at home, in a freestanding hospice facility, a hospice unit of a hospital or in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes.
Programs that provide inoculations or other prophylactic measures to prevent susceptible individuals from contracting specific diseases for which means of control have been developed. Included are immunizations recommended specifically for newborns and young children, booster shots to prevent the occurrence of childhood illnesses in adolescence and adulthood, inoculations recommended specifically for pregnant women and immunizations against illnesses such as shingles and pneumonia for older adults.
Programs that specialize in the surgical replacement of organs or living tissue in people whose own organs are dysfunctional.
Programs that offer minor, non-life-threatening operations either in the office of the physician or in a hospital on a basis that permits the patient to come into the hospital in the morning, have the surgery and return home the same day.
Multidisciplinary programs that specialize in the treatment of individuals who have chronic, severe pain of organic origin that has not responded to medical or surgical therapy. Treatment is individualized and may include occupational therapy, muscle relaxation, behaviour modification, stress management, biofeedback, psychological and psychosocial counselling, nutrition counselling, food allergy testing, exercise programs and a variety of physical intervention techniques including electrical stimulation of selected peripheral nerves and laser biostimulation.
Programs that provide for the comprehensive management of the physical, psychological, social, spiritual and existential needs of patients with the objective of helping them achieve the best possible quality of life through relief of suffering, control of symptoms and restoration of functional capacity while remaining sensitive to personal, cultural and religious values, beliefs and practices. The focus of palliative care is on people with incurable, progressive illnesses who are in the early stages of their illness. Palliative care may be provided in a wide variety of health care settings including hospitals, nursing facilities, hospice facilities and the person's own home; and may be coordinated with other services including curative therapies.
Programs that provide alternative methods of obtaining daily nutritional requirements for people who are unable to take food and/or liquids orally due to an obstruction in the alimentary tract, the inability to swallow, nausea due to chemotherapy or other causes, or postoperative complications.
Programs that offer hormone replacement therapy for transgender individuals who are beginning the anatomical and psychological transition to another sex and gender. The therapy involves taking estrogen (for male-to-female transition) or testosterone (for female-to-male transition) before, during, and after the surgical transition. The purpose of hormone therapy is to change the physical appearance of the individual to look like the other sex and to feel comfortable. The feminizing effects of estrogen and the masculinizing effects of testosterone may appear after the first couple of doses, though it may be several years before a person is satisfactorily transitioned.
Programs that utilize one or a variety of techniques including nutrition education, exercise, special diets, protein sparing fasting, behaviour modification, hypnosis, medication or surgery to help individuals who have a weight control problem gain or lose weight to achieve a more healthful body weight and develop a lifestyle that allows them to maintain that weight.
The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.