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Acu in Practice: Sea Turtle Francis!

Welcome to Acu in Practice! Meet Francis, an approximately 20 - year old Green Sea Turtle who is traveling freely off of the coast of Australia thanks to the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre and acupressure. You can follow her live at this link via her tracker: https://citizensgbr.org/explore/reef-tracks/ctrc-francis I was fortunate to meet Francis and work with her in person while at the IVAS Congress in the summer of 2017. She had sustained multiple injuries that were treated effectively, but was still experiencing “frozen flipper” despite the resolution of the actual shoulder injury. Basically, she just would not use the right flipper, preventing her from being released.

On physical exam, I palpated trigger points (tension or muscle knots) in the triceps and flexor carpi ulnaris. Range of motion was significantly reduced in the elbow (humeral-radial) joint with notable stiffness and resistance to extension and deeper flexion. Discomfort was perceived when rotating the scapulohumeral joint. From a TCM perspective, I diagnosed fixed Bi syndrome.


For treatment, only acupressure was used. I performed 3 sessions of acupressure (over a 1 hour time period, 5 minutes in between each session) using the points LI 10, SI 8, LI 4 and TH 5. Pressure was applied to each point for 3 minutes. LI 10 and TH 5 were stimulated at the same time, SI 8 and LI 4 at the same time. Francis was able to stay in her recovery tank during the entire treatment and had already started using the flipper after the 3rd session.

I showed the volunteers how to apply the pressure and to do some range of motion exercises. Francis was successfully released on October 18, 2018. She has covered 541 kilometers over 103 days and was seen mingling with one of her rehab centre buddies, Margaret (also successfully released).


It is my long term vision to teach others how to effectively use acupressure in order to speed the recovery process for injured or rescued sea turtles. It feels good to be making progress. Thank you Jennie Gilbert and Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre for giving me this opportunity. http://www.cairnsturtlerehab.org.au

Me (Dr. Nell) and Francis - Summer 2017!