We wish to thank the many people who have helped us make 2001 a banner year for JJAMD. We deeply appreciate the efforts and support of those who have provided in-kind services and advice, and for those patients who have filled out the TMJ surveys on this website and have shared their stories with others, and for future appropriate research from the Patients’ Perspective.
1. TUFTS MEDICAL/DENTAL SCHOOL, NEW ENGLAND MEDICAL CENTER, FAULKNER HOSPITAL, AND MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL are continuing their interdisciplinary educational and clinical programs with lectures, grand rounds, and patient studies. Programs cover TMJ and allied and overlapping disorders as well as chronic pain disorders. There is a multidisciplinary participation among physicians, researchers, dentists, other clinicians, and JJAMD as patient advocates.
In addition to these semi-weekly programs, seminars are being planned at a number of New England Hospitals to be tied in with JJAMD’S Congressional Proclamation announcing “Jaw Joints - TMJ Awareness Month.”tm
2. JJAMD met with the dean of Harvard Medical School on May 30th to urge that TMJ be covered specifically in the medical education curriculum. We received a response from the dean and a subsequent follow-up from Dean of Education Dr. Lowenstein indicating that there is some hope for more specific TMJ education in curriculum revisions that are now taking place. We plan to continue follow-up efforts, as Harvard is looked to for leadership in medical education around the world.
3. We are gratified with the continued interest by SENATOR EDWARD KENNEDY’S HEALTH COMMITTEE. We met the Senator briefly at a Health Affairs lecture he gave and renewed our connection with TMJ. Meanwhile, our Washington liaison person has been active with staff persons on our behalf.
4. There is a definite shift in the attention to TMJ by the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF DENTAL AND CRANIOFACIAL RESEARCH [NIDCR] since Dr, Lawrence A. Tabak took over the directorship. JJAMD met with Dr. Tabak and his key staff members on May 31, 2001. As a result of this meeting we are officially included in THE TMD INTERAGENCY WORKING GROUP [TMDIWG]. This group, founded and chaired by NIDCR contains members from various NIH Institutes and government and non-government agencies as well as TMJ patient advocacy groups. Its purpose is to promote greater interdisciplinary attention to TMJ and also serves to provide health promotion.
We also developed a good straightforward relationship with the Institute and the staff, which will stand us in good stead in the future. Finally we were invited to speak with Dr. Tabak whenever we feel it is desirable.
Dr. Tabak contacted us subsequently to have a meeting to inform us about some specific future initiatives. Instead of going to Washington, we arranged a NIDCR/JJAMD conference call on Dec 17, 2001 with Dr. Tabak, Dr. N. Braveman – his Special Assistant for TMJ, and Ms. W. Liffers, Chief of Programs. We had 13 Boston-based physicians, dentists, insurers, researchers, our Senate liaison person, and others on the Boston end. A wide range of issues was discussed. Most importantly, NIDCR committed itself to developing a comprehensive body-wide TMJ Patient Registry, separate and apart from an ongoing TMJ Implant Registry. This is particularly significant, because it will also register allied and related and overlapping disorders, with which virtually all TMJ patients suffer.
On Health Promotion & Prevention, which is at the core of JJAMD’s mission, both Dr. Tabak and Dr. Braveman subsequently offered their personal participation at future JJAMD conferences.
We were told that TMJ is now, on the “Front Burner” and next year, TMJ will be a primary focus of the Institute.
Also, there will be much more interaction with other NIH Institutes. To illustrate this point, these are the relevant TMJ excerpts from the DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATION BILL, 2002.] This is critically important for TMJ patients, as the mystery of TMJ will be unlocked only by the coordinated efforts of research in all aspects of this devastating disorder – a job that will require the intervention of multiple NIH Institutes along with the extramural research community.
DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATION BILL, 2002
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ)- The Committee recognizes that the problems associated with temporomandibular diseases and disorders involve many Institutes and Centers, including the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. The Committee calls on the Office of the Director to coordinate cross-cutting research by the various Institutes and Centers and provide a report directly to the Committee by April 1, 2002, on TMJ initiatives begun in fiscal year 2001 or scheduled to begin in fiscal year 2002. In addition, a Special Emphasis Panel should be established to review applications in the multiple disciplines applied to studies of the causes, manifestations and treatments of temporomandibular diseases and disorders.
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ)- The Committee urges NIAID to put a greater focus in its research portfolio on TMJ patients and autoimmune and inflammatory processes. The collection of tissue samples from TMJ patients and people without TMJ disease has been suggested (as part of a patient registry) to determine whether inflammatory mediators, growth factors, cytokines and other cell and molecular factors affecting immunity may differ between people with and without TMJ disease.
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF BIOMEDICAL IMAGING AND BIOENGINEERING
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ)- The Committee is aware that the research portfolio on temporomandibular diseases and disorders has extensively studied psychological and behavioral factors in the etiology or chronicity of TMJ diseases and disorders. The Committee urges the Institute to broaden its scientific base for TMJ research by putting greater emphasis on basic and clinical research on normal and abnormal structural and functional features of the joint and related structures, using the tools of cell and molecular biology as well as advanced imaging techniques.
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ)- The Institute is urged to increase research on unique features of the temporomandibular joint as well as exploring to what extent TM disorders share common pathogenic mechanisms with fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis.
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF DENTAL AND CRANIOFACIAL RESEARCH
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ)- The Committee is aware that the research portfolio on temporomandibular diseases and disorders includes extensive studies on the psychological and behavioral factors in the etiology or chronicity of TMJ diseases and disorders. The Committee urges the Institute to broaden its scientific base for TMJ research by putting greater emphasis on basic and clinical research on normal and abnormal structural and functional features of the joint and related structures, using the tools of cell and molecular biology as well as advanced imaging techniques. The Committee expects NIDCR to collaborate on this research with the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering
5. BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD OF MASSACHUSETTS [BCBSMA] has formally implemented the new TMJ Medical Policy, which is working well on behalf of TMJ patients who are treated by qualified providing practitioners. We believe that this policy, which covers a number of procedures other than surgery, is the first in the country. We hope other health plans will adopt similar policies. In addition the Patient Survey that Blue Cross experts have designed has been upgraded and almost ready to be placed on line
6. THE FORSYTH INSTITUTE, with whom we have been associated for many years, is now initiating an oral care program for underserved children. They will include TMJ in their screening and health promotion
7. JJAMD’s web site is constantly accessed. This has been of great help to us, because it has allowed us to do more networking, attending health conferences, and TMJ Patient advocating. JJAMD’s web site has freed us from endless paperwork and membership. There will be physical changes to the website in 2002 as we experiment with new graphics, access blocks and music to accompany the messages. In addition our popular “TMJ Roadmap” section will have to be updated to include changes due to the advances listed in this Current News update.
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