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A Different Way to Heal?
Body on a Bench
Healing Touch
Photo of  Nurse Performing Theraputic Touch
  Ellen McMahon says she uses her hands like "geiger counters" to locate and smooth out trouble spots in a patient's energy field.

An increasingly popular alternative therapy,Therapeutic Touch (TT) is the practice of moving one's hands just above a patient's body to smooth out kinks in the "energy field," thereby producing health benefits. At Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, researchers set out to study the effects of TT on heart bypass patients. During and after conventional surgery, one group of patients received treatment from TT practitioners, another group received a sham treatment, and another received nothing at all. The research was halted, however, when some sham practitioners reported feeling "something" as they moved their hands, rendering them an unreliable control group. The study was then repeated, this time with cancer cell cultures rather than actual patients, but no identifiable effects were found.
Photo of Emily Rosa Conducting Experiment  
In Emily Rosa's study, 14 TT practitioners each got 10 trials to guess where Emily was placing her hand.  

In 1996, a science project by 11-year-old Emily Rosa cast doubt on a fundamental principle of TT - the ability to detect another person's energy field. With TT practitioners unable to see what she was doing, Rosa placed one of her hands over one of the practitioner's hands and asked him or her to state which hand she was near. Practitioners' success rates were no better than pure chance. Rosa's study was considered rigorous enough to be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, making her the youngest author to appear in its esteemed pages.

For more on this topic, see the web feature:
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