Thursday, May 25, 2006

Editorial Comment -- The Lasermedics Press Conference – "The Rest of the Story"

This editorial comment was prepared for publication in the October 1994 issue of Medical Laser Report, but was not published. (The editors of the newsletter chickened out!)

Editorial Comment -- The Lasermedics Press Conference – "The Rest of the Story"

Irving J. Arons
Managing Director
Spectrum Consulting

Last month, our front page feature story was about the release of the results from the General Motors carpel tunnel syndrome (CTS) study. I was the only media person allowed to attend the symposium held by Lasermedics, as GM pulled the plug on all publicity about the event two days before it occurred (on August 31). I was allowed to remain in the room when the study results were presented, only because I had agreed to allow GM to see, comment, and have some editorial control on what I wrote. This is not my usual custom, although I sometimes send drafts to the companies or people about whom I am writing for their comments and corrections in order to accurately report about the subject on which I am commenting.

In this case, GM was extremely concerned about the release of the information from the symposium for several reasons: the "implied" endorsement of the Lasermedic's laser; the effect of the "good" results on their ongoing negotiations with their labor union and the effect this "benefit" might have on those negotiations; and the release of data before their in-house scientists could prepare the information for publication in a scientific journal. For these reasons, the national and local media were excluded from the proceedings. I was able to "negotiate" my presence only on the terms noted above.

The original draft that I prepared was scrutinized carefully by GM personnel at the highest levels within the organization, and after lengthy negotiations, the "sanitized" version, which was published, was reluctantly approved by GM.

However, now that the "cat is out of the bag", I would like to fill you in on "the rest of the story", or what was "altered" or omitted. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as noted in the Wall Street Journal of July 14, 1994, approximately 9% of auto manufacturing workers are afflicted with repetitive stress injuries, including carpel tunnel syndrome. And according to my sources, that percentage holds true for GM assembly workers as well.

As for the double blind clinical study conducted at eight GM plants, 116 out-of-work employees volunteered to take part in the study. All were chronic CTS sufferers, some out of work as long as three years because of their disability. Eighty-six completed the five week program and, of those, 46% of both groups (47% of those that had physical therapy alone [and treatment with a "sham" laser -- having the aiming LED light active but the laser inactive] and 45% of those that had both physical therapy and laser treatment), were able to return to work. However, this number is misleading because many more of those treated would have been able to return to work if appropriate jobs had been available or if seniority allowed. Thus the 46% is just a baseline, as the percentage would have been considerably higher if jobs had been available.

More importantly, I was told by a plant manager that the laser continued to be used in the eight GM plants (the study concluded last fall) and that thousands of workers complaining of CTS symptoms, i.e., in the early stages of CTS development, were being treated, with a success rate of between 85% to 90% of alleviating the symptoms and allowing the workers to return to their jobs!

I believe this information is important and should have been presented, and that is the reason for this editorial.


At 7:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could not find a suitable section so I written here, how to become a moderator for your forum, that need for this?

At 11:40 AM, Blogger Irv Arons said...

I have no idea what you are talking about. Please email me iarons(at) and we can discuss this.

Irv Arons


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