The title of today’s post reflects one of the questions I get asked very frequently:
“How do I know if I’m using AcuGraph properly?”
More specifically, I often get asked by new users how they can tell if their technique, point location, and equipment operation are all correct to produce accurate graph results.
Of course, many factors contribute to the overall accuracy of the results, and without personally observing a user during the exam, I can’t tell authoritatively that everything is being done perfectly. But over the years, I have developed a quick, easy rule of thumb to help new users know how well they’re doing.
I call it the rule of Splits.
It goes something like this: Beginning AcuGraph users will generally produce graphs with lots of splits. When your average number of splits has dropped by about 50%, your accuracy is becoming very good. (Remember, a “Split” is a significant difference between the right and left side measurements of the same meridian point.)
Why does this happen? I can think of a couple of reasons:
1. Point Location:
Yes, we have all been taught to locate the points by anatomic landmark and palpation in school, but the electrical location of the point may be somewhat different. Remember, the electrical location of a given acupuncture point is that spot at which the AcuGraph reading is the highest, signifying higher electrical conductance than the surrounding tissue. Sometimes the anatomic and electrical locations will be identical, and other times, the electrical location may vary by up to a centimeter from the anatomic location. It takes a bit of practice to get used to locating the points electrically, rather than purely anatomically.
Using the same approach, timing, angle, pressure, and so forth for all the points measured can be a bit tricky at first. For example, if you are right-handed, you will necessarily use slightly different technique when approaching the patient’s left side than you will when approaching the patient’s right side. But with a little practice, you’ll learn the approach both the same way. It’s like any other physical skill. You develop coordination with practice.
Now I’d love to tell you that AcuGraph is completely immune to point location issues and technique problems, but I’m afraid that’s just not true. Anytime you deal with measuring the skin, you necessarily introduce physiological variability, merely by virtue of the fact that you are pressing on the skin. This is true of all equipment, no matter how well made.
The GOOD news is that with a little practice you can learn to measure very consistently.
The result? Graphs with fewer splits and more valid results.
Now keep in mind, not all splits are due to measurement error. Once you have perfected your technique, you’ll still find spits, and occasionally a patient with many splits. This is perfectly acceptable, and you should treat your patient accordingly.
One more closing word of advice: When you first receive your AcuGraph system, you’ll need to practice graphing on a few volunteers while you perfect your technique. Usually, about 10 exams are enough to get you there.
Remember, if you have questions, or need advice, you can always contact us. Free support is included with every AcuGraph purchase, and we’re always ready to help.