Dumb is the Old English word that means “mute, speechless,” and itself came from an even older word dheubh meaning “confusion, stupefaction, dizziness.”
Dumb might be an apt word to refer to the decisions some individuals have made since the onset of the pandemic, (i.e., refusal to wear a mask or avail themselves of vaccination now with proven safety) jeopardizing their own health or that of others. Dumb might also be an apt term to describe the inability on the part of some adults to discern fact from fiction, truth from lies, or judge whether the information they consume is meant to help or harm them.
Healthcare professionals may also suffer from some of these same limitations because they don’t take the time to review relevant research or because despite the available scientific evidence, it does not supersede their own strongly held beliefs. Before evidence can influence your medical or therapy practice, it has to change your belief, and in my own observation of human behavior, it appears that the inclination of most humans is to gather the facts to support their beliefs, not the other way around. And, hence, this trend towards the latter inclination may be contributing to the “panDUMBic era.”
The term “evidence-based medicine” was introduced into the medical lexicon sometime in the early 1990’s, and has been defined as: “the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients.”[i] But several authors argue that external clinical evidence can inform, but never replace individual clinical expertise. In other words, two physicians, or two speech-language pathologists can read and review the same research article but based on their clinical experience and expertise apply the findings to their patient/s in different ways. In addition, when reading research, one must be able to discern the merits and limitations of a study, and this often comes about through discussion and debate with peers.
Approximately 15 years ago, Dr. Ramon (Tony) Gil, a local Neurologist, specializing in the treatment of Parkinson’s and related disorders, began to host a monthly Journal Club. The monthly meeting is open to any professional in the area with interest in learning more about current treatments and issues impacting the care of these patients, but sadly is often attended by the same few people. This type of ongoing multidisciplinary learning requires some commitment of time and intellect, and from time to time, it also requires some suspension or relinquishment of a belief we may have previously held.
But challenging ourselves to constantly learn more from reputable people and sources is essential to delivering the best healthcare, and to be practicing at the top of our license, no matter our discipline. As a patient it should also be important to you, that your physicians and therapist’s know at least as much as you do about your condition and that they are also continually learning from reliable sources (not Facebook), in order to better serve you.
As for me, I will continue to trust Dr. Fauci, a physician and NIH career scientist to guide us/me with regards to how to best respond to the COVID pandemic. As for the treatment I provide to my patients, I will continue to read and analyze peer reviewed research, attend journal club where I am exposed to relevant research outside of my field, sometimes engage in lively debate, honor my own many years of experience and intuition, and merge all of it into my interactions with YOU, the patient, as we pursue the best treatment for your condition.
[i] Understanding Why We Agree on the Evidence but Disagree on the Medicine. Rubenfield, Gordon D., M.D. Respiratory Care, December 2001 Vol 46 No12.
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My Mission: To enlist individuals in their treatment, and help them express their personality & spirit through voice. To educate and empower. Mary Spremulli, MA, CCC-SLP * FiTOUR® Group Exercise Instructor * Voice Aerobics® A Whole Body Approach to Voice Practice
Voice Aerobics the heART and Science of Voice Practice