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Thread: Tai Chi, Veterans & PTSD

  1. #1
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    Tai Chi and PTSD

    Tai Chi may benefit veterans with PTSD
    Written by Honor Whiteman
    Published: Monday 5 December 2016

    Around 7 to 8 percent of Americans will experience post-traumatic stress disorder in their lifetime, and the condition is even more common among veterans, affecting around 23 percent of those involved in recent conflicts. According to a new study, the ancient Chinese exercise Tai Chi could help veterans manage symptoms of post-traumatic stress.


    Researchers say Tai Chi may be beneficial for veterans who have PTSD.

    Study co-author Barbara Niles, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine in Massachusetts, and colleagues recently reported their findings in BMJ Open.

    Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can arise after experiencing or witnessing a shocking or frightening event.

    Because veterans have been exposed to highly traumatic events more often than the general population, their rates of PTSD are much higher. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, around 30 percent of veterans who served in the Vietnam War have experienced PTSD at some point in their lives.

    Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks of the traumatic event, nightmares, negative emotions, and avoidance of situations that trigger memories of the event. Some individuals may also experience anxiety, depression, physical symptoms - such as chronic pain - and alcohol or drug abuse.

    Treatment for PTSD often includes a combination of medication and behavioral therapy. However, these treatments are not always effective.

    Now, Niles and colleagues say Tai Chi has the potential to offer significant benefits for veterans with PTSD.

    Veterans enrolled to four weekly Tai Chi sessions

    Originating from China, Tai Chi is a gentle form of exercise that incorporates slow movements, breathing, and meditation.

    Previous studies have documented the numerous health benefits of Tai Chi, which include improved muscle strength, increased energy, reduced inflammation, and better heart health.

    Research has also associated Tai Chi with better mental health, such as reduced anxiety and depression.

    According to Niles and team, few studies have investigated whether Tai Chi might help individuals with PTSD, although research has demonstrated the benefits of other mind-body practices - such as yoga - for the disorder.

    With this in mind, the researchers enrolled 17 veterans - 11 males and 6 females - with symptoms of PTSD to take part in an introductory Tai Chi program, which involved four once-weekly sessions over 4 weeks.

    Each session involved a warm-up - including a self-massage and a review of Tai Chi principles - Tai Chi movement, and breathing and relaxation. During the 4-week period, subjects were also encouraged to practice Tai Chi at home for at least 30 minutes daily.

    After the final Tai Chi session, each veteran completed a questionnaire that asked them how satisfied they were with the Tai Chi program, whether they would like to take part in future Tai Chi programs, and whether they felt it helped manage their issues.

    Positive findings should spur additional research

    The vast majority of veterans - 93.8 percent - said they were mostly or very satisfied with the introductory Tai Chi program and would rate the program as "excellent" or "good."

    Importantly, 68.8 percent of the veterans said that the Tai Chi program "helped them deal more effectively with their problems," and all subjects said they would take part in Tai Chi again if offered.

    The researchers note that the study sample size was small, and some of the participants only reported mild symptoms of PTSD, meaning their results may not apply to larger populations of veterans with the disorder.

    Still, the team says the results provide "evidence for the feasibility of enrolling and engaging veterans with symptoms of PTSD in a Tai Chi exercise program," adding:

    "Veterans were very satisfied with their Tai Chi experience and they indicated both willingness and a preference for additional sessions. Given these positive findings, additional research is needed to empirically evaluate Tai Chi as a treatment for symptoms of PTSD."

    Read how Tai Chi may boost health and well-being for people with cardiovascular disease.
    Here's the abstract on the BMJ site:
    BMJ Open 2016;6:e012464 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-012464
    Complementary medicine
    Feasibility, qualitative findings and satisfaction of a brief Tai Chi mind–body programme for veterans with post-traumatic stress symptoms
    Barbara L Niles 1, DeAnna L Mori 2, Craig P Polizzi 3, Anica Pless Kaiser 1, Annie M Ledoux 3, Chenchen Wang 4

    + Author Affiliations
    1 National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System and Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    2 VA Boston Healthcare System and Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    3 National Center for PTSD and VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    4 Division of Rheumatology, Center for Integrative Medicine, Tufts Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

    Correspondence to
    Dr Barbara L Niles; Barbara.Niles@va.gov
    Received 29 April 2016
    Revised 10 August 2016
    Accepted 4 October 2016
    Published 29 November 2016

    Abstract
    Objective To examine feasibility, qualitative feedback and satisfaction associated with a 4-session introduction to Tai Chi for veterans with post-traumatic stress symptoms.

    Design We observed and reported recruitment and retention rates, participant characteristics, adherence, and satisfaction across 2 cohorts. We also examined qualitative feedback provided by questionnaires, focus groups and individual interviews.

    Main outcome measures Rates of recruitment and retention, focus group and individual feedback interviews, self-reported satisfaction.

    Participants 17 veterans with post-traumatic stress symptoms.

    Results Almost 90% (17/19) of those eligible following the telephone screen enrolled in the programme. Three-quarters (76.4%) of the participants attended at least 3 of the 4 Tai Chi sessions. Qualitative data analysis revealed themes indicating favourable impressions of the Tai Chi sessions. In addition, participants reported feeling very engaged during the sessions, and found Tai Chi to be helpful for managing distressing symptoms (ie, intrusive thoughts, concentration difficulties, physiological arousal). Participants also reported high satisfaction: 93.8% endorsed being very or mostly satisfied with the programme. All participants (100%) indicated that they would like to participate in future Tai Chi programmes and would recommend it to a friend.

    Conclusions Tai Chi appears to be feasible and safe for veterans with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is perceived to be beneficial and is associated with high rates of satisfaction. This study highlights the need for future investigation of Tai Chi as a novel intervention to address symptoms of PTSD.
    Gene Ching
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  2. #2
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    Ptsd

    Military Researchers Collaborate With University on Opioid Crisis
    By Sarah Marshall Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

    BETHESDA, Md., Aug. 25, 2017 — Opioids are the main driver of drug overdose deaths across the United States, and West Virginia has been among the hardest hit by the crisis, experiencing the highest overdose death rates in the country.


    With the military, West Virginia and the nation experiencing over-reliance on opioids for pain management, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and West Virginia University have established an official collaboration to pool their resources to help in solving the problem. Graphic courtesy of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

    With a shared vision of combating this growing epidemic, health care providers and researchers from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences here and West Virginia University have established an official collaboration to pool their resources.

    In 2015, the overdose death rate in West Virginia was an estimated 41.5 per 100,000 people, an increase of about 17 percent from the year prior, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cabell County in southern West Virginia has a population of 96,000, and an estimated 10,000 of those residents are addicted to opioids.

    Additionally, the state's indigent burial fund, which helps families pay for a funeral when they can't afford one, reportedly ran out of money this year for the sixth consecutive year, largely due to the high number of overdose deaths.

    As the opioid epidemic continues to have a substantial impact on the state, leaders from WVU reached out to USU's Defense and Veterans Center for Integrative Pain Management, aware of their efforts to successfully combat opioid misuse in the military over the last several years with the idea that lessons learned in the military would be applicable to their state's current crisis. Earlier this year, leaders from both universities developed a cooperative research and development agreement allowing them to formally share pain management resources developed by DVCIPM.

    Adding Value to Civilian, Military Medicine

    The agreement also allows the DVCIPM an opportunity to measure the efficacy of the tools they've developed in a new environment – a collaboration that these leaders believe already is adding value to both civilian and military medicine.

    Nearly a decade ago, at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, physicians were seeking to help troops get their chronic pain levels to zero as they survived combat injuries in record numbers. This was often achieved by using opioids – and using opioids as a single modality – which the military quickly realized was not effective, because this approach was affecting many service members and their relationships with loved ones, work, and daily living.

    In 2009, then-Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Eric Schoomaker chartered the Army Pain Management Task Force, which sought to make recommendations for a comprehensive pain management strategy, ensuring an optimal quality of life for service members and other patients dealing with pain. It became clear to the military that pain should be viewed as more than just a number, and over the last several years, the military has been dedicated to researching and developing more effective tools for pain management, ultimately reducing the number of those potentially exposed to opioid addiction.

    The task force's efforts led to the development of DVCIPM, which was designated as a Defense Department Center of Excellence last year.

    Schoomaker, now retired, continues to lead these efforts, serving as vice chair for leadership, centers and programs for USU's department of military and emergency medicine, which oversees DVCIPM.

    "We now have good evidence for the use of non-pharmacologic, non-opioid treatments, such as yoga, guided imagery, medical massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, Tai Chi, as well as a closely related movement therapy called Qigong, and music therapy," he said. "We have pretty good research to endorse their use."

    Because these practices might not work the same for each person, he added, it's important to use a variety of these modalities as part of a comprehensive program, tailored to the needs of an individual with chronic pain. Now, thanks to the official collaboration between USU and WVU, DVCIPM will have the opportunity to continue researching the efficacy of various integrative modalities and the pain management tools and resources they've developed.

    "We owe it to our patients, and we owe it to practitioners, to only use tools that have good evidence for their use," Schoomaker said.

    Gathering, Measuring Data

    DVCIPM Director Dr. Chester "Trip" Buckenmaier said the center's tools and resources have mainly been used in a fairly selective population within the military. Studying their efficacy in a smaller system within a state's civilian infrastructure will allow them to gather and measure data on how successful they can be in a broader population, which will continue to help illustrate the potential these tools have.


    Battlefield acupuncture is a unique auricular (ear) acupuncture procedure providing an integrative modality to help treat chronic pain. It’s being taught to qualified providers in the military. Now, thanks to a new collaboration between Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and West Virginia University, it’s also being employed in a new pain management center in West Virginia to help combat the opioid crisis. Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences photo by Sarah Marshall

    "It's important to have relationships like we have with West Virginia. … They pay off in so many different ways that you can never anticipate," Schoomaker said.

    Dr. Mike Brumage, WVU's assistant dean for Public Health Practice and Service, initiated the collaborative effort by reaching out to USU about two years ago, wanting to do something about the issue affecting his native West Virginia. At the time, he had just retired after a 25-year career in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, and was able to connect with former military health colleagues, including Schoomaker and then-Army Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Richard Thomas, who was serving as the Defense Health Agency's chief medical officer. Thomas is an alumnus of WVU's undergraduate, dental and medical programs, and is now USU's president.

    This quickly led to several more meetings and discussions, led by Dr. Clay Marsh, vice president and executive dean of WVU's Health Sciences Center, and Dr. Bill Ramsey, assistant vice president of coordination and logistics for the center. Ultimately, they arrived at a CRADA, signed off by Thomas and Marsh, and have since continued looking for ways to make the most out of their collaboration.

    The hope is that this joint effort will galvanize further interest from other entities, Schoomaker said, leading to other similar collaborations, ultimately continuing the fight against a crisis that's impacting the entire nation.
    Medicinal Qigong & Tai Chi may ultimately be their greatest gifts (Acupuncture is intrinsically medicinal).
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  3. #3
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    VA Tai Chi Program

    Time to split off an indie thread dedicated to Tai Chi, Veterans & PTSD from our Tai Chi as medicine thread. This is important work.

    Local VA Offers 1st Ever Tai Chi Program For Veterans
    Alexandra Koehn
    3:22 PM, Feb 8, 2018
    9:03 PM, Feb 8, 2018


    The VA in Murfreesboro has offered a class to veterans that’s the first of its kind at any VA in the country. Veterans have been learning the art of tai chi, and it’s been changing their lives.

    MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Department of Veterans Affairs in Murfreesboro offers the only adaptive Tai Chi class in the country for veterans.

    After recognizing success from the pilot program, the instructor has been training people across the country on how to incorporate Tai Chi into VA programs.

    In the community room, socialization has helped some veterans find peace of mind.

    "Research has demonstrated that Tai Chi is one of the most effective ways of maintaining mind body health," Dr. Zibin Guo said.

    Guo helped launch the program two years ago. He said it was made possible by a grant.

    Mindfulness is something that's imperative for veterans like Bruce Stophlet.

    "Not the past, not tomorrow. Just now," Stophlet said.

    Stophlet said the class has helped him physically and mentally. He suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and a neurological condition.

    "I have an issue with tremors and they tend to exacerbate when I'm in a stressful situation or around people," Stophlet said.

    In Tai Chi class, he said he's able to achieve peace of mind.

    "It's more than just the Tai Chi," Stophlet said. "It's just a comfort place. It's mindfulness. When we're working together."

    Eventually the veterans in the class will be able to learn self defense through the martial arts practice.

    "A lot of people find the practice and the idea of those movements and improve self confidence," Dr. Guo said.

    So when these veterans go home, they have a new mission: to practice mindfulness, so they can heal.

    "The mind is very powerful," Guo said. "It can make your body become anything you want to."

    Aaron Grobengieser helps to manage the program.

    “We don’t just have to be there for them when they’re having an acute problem, and we can really help them find ways to cope with some of the things they go through in a proactive way," Grobengieser said.

    He said if you are a veteran, the class is free at the Murfreesboro location.

    “We are a starting point. We are a flagship. We are an opportunity to see how it goes. We have a great opportunity here to really see what works," Grobengieser said.

    Dr. Guo has recently visited the VA in Dallas and Salt Lake City to train instructors there in Tai Chi. He hopes to launch the programs soon.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  4. #4
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    More from the Murfreesboro VA in TN and Guo Zibin

    To Control Pain, Battle PTSD And Fight Other Ills, Tennessee Vets Try Tai Chi
    By BLAKE FARMER • 5 HOURS AGO


    Thomas Sales says tai chi has helped him with his PTSD during panic attacks. He goes to a weekly class at the Alvin C. York VA hospital in Murfreesboro but also does tai chi on his own each day.
    BLAKE FARMER / WPLN

    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been desperate to cut down on the use of powerful pills. So the mammoth agency has taken a sharp turn toward alternative medicine. The thinking goes that even if it doesn’t cure a mental or physical ill, it can't hurt.

    In Tennessee, treatment for veterans is beginning to include the ancient martial art of tai chi. Zibin Guo leads a weekly session at the Alvin C. York VA hospital in Murfreesboro. He guides vets through slow-motion poses as a Bluetooth speaker blares a classic tai chi soundtrack.

    "Cloudy hands to the right, cloudy hands to the left," he tells the veterans, seated in wheelchairs. "Now we're going to open your arms, grab the wheels and 180-degree turn."

    The participants swivel about-face and continue to the next pose.

    Guo modified tai chi to work from a seated position, though many of the participants are not wheelchair-bound. Even for those who can walk, the wheelchair makes it easier to get through a half-hour of movement.

    The VA has blessed this project with nearly $120,000 in grant money for adaptive sports. Guo started in Chattanooga and expanded to Murfreesboro. Now he's moving on to a half dozen VA hospitals in Florida, Texas, Utah and Arizona. Guo believes the focus on breathing and mindfulness — paired with manageable physical activity — could benefit a variety of ailments.

    "When you have a good amount of body harmony, people tend to engage in proactive life. So that helps with all kinds of symptoms," he says.


    Zibin Guo, a medical anthropology professor UT Chattanooga, developed a seated version of tai chi and launched at UTC.
    CREDIT BLAKE FARMER / WPLN

    While wheelchair tai chi would provide activity for those who've lost some use of their legs, physical ailments are not the primary target. It's the multitude of vets with conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder.

    "Night before last, when we had the thunderstorm. The thunder is a big trigger for some people," Thomas Sales of Hermitage says, recalling his most recent panic attack.

    The urge to take cover caught him by surprise, especially since it's been more than 25 years since he was in combat with the Navy Special Warfare Command.

    "You'll find yourself flashing back to being out there with the fellas, and you'll just kind of snap," he says. "And I found myself, for some reason, thinking about doing the breathing techniques [from tai chi] and doing the heaven and earth and then breathing deep and slow."

    Sales says he knows it must look "crazy" when he reaches to the sky and then sweeps his arms to the ground because there was a time that he thought tai chi looked sort of crazy, too. Most of these patients had some skepticism going in. But Vietnam veteran Jim Berry of Spring Hill says he’s convinced.

    "My daughter sent me a t-shirt that sums it up," he says. "Tai chi is more than old folks chasing trees," referencing the masses of elderly people who gather at parks in China.

    The former Marine admits that he used to notice groups in the park, moving in unison. "I failed to see the point," he says. But he credits the practice with helping him quit smoking. "No cigarettes for three months now."

    For Zarita Croney — a veteran with the National Guard — tai chi has also helped with chemical dependence.

    "My whole life revolved around, 'oh shoot, when can I take my next pill?'" she recalls.

    She now makes the nearly-two-hour drive from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, to Murfreesboro each week, and she says she's cut down on her use of opioids for pain.

    "Everyone is here because they decided, 'I want to try something that isn't just putting a pill in my hand.'"

    This idea of going beyond prescriptions has been a key focus of the VA, especially for high-powered painkillers. In Tennessee, nearly a quarter of all VA patients with an active prescription were on opioids in 2012. That number is down to 15 percent, but still higher than most of the country.

    The VA acknowledges that there's very little proof that tai chi — or other alternative treatments like mindfulness and acupuncture — will do any good for PTSD or addiction, though there has been research into the benefits of tai chi related to quality of life among the elderly. Still, Aaron Grobengieser, who oversees alternative medicine in Murfreesboro, says the VA will attempt to track the effectiveness by the numbers.

    "Whole health, along with how many opiates are being prescribed, we're going to look at how does this impact that," he says. "We have the baseline. Does this reduce that baseline?"

    Grobengieser says tai chi — alone — isn't going to be the cure. But for many, it may help. And he hopes it will slowly evolve how the VA is viewed — from a place to turn in crisis, to a weekly part of a veteran’s lifestyle.
    Guo is doing some great work here.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  5. #5
    I went to a BJJ seminar run by the We Defy Foundation. Per the Foundations website:

    "Through Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and fitness training we will provide combat veterans suffering from life-disabling injuries and/or PTSD a long term means to overcome their challenges."

    The Foundation provides disabled veterans with FREE BJJ lessons at a participating BJJ school. They raise money to pay for the veterans memberships at the BJJ schools through sponsorship, seminars, donations and the sale of t shirts etc. Some schools also waive the membership fee for the Foundation.

    Professor Alan Shebaro, an veteran of US special forces ran the seminar I attended. He is very dedicated to disabled veterans, and the goals of the foundation.

    Below is the website of the foundation for anyone interested:

    https://www.wedefyfoundation.org/

  6. #6
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    Cool bjjkk

    Therapy may well be the most powerful martial arts application of all.

    There's a vid behind this link.
    Veterans find relief through tai chi
    By Zach Prelutsky | Posted: Sat 11:13 AM, Mar 24, 2018

    TOMAH, Wis. (WEAU) -- At a VA in Tomah, Wisconsin, a new class hopes to provide relief for veterans using an old method.

    [IMG]http://media.graytvinc.com/images/690*388/VETS+TAI+CHI+1.png[/IMG]

    "I wanted to get more involved in whole health, I think it's such a great movement. It's not something I had the opportunity to be involved in at other places where I've worked in the private sector. So I wanted to jump on board and tai chi was offered, so I took the training and just saw that it could be applicable for so many of our veterans," said Janelle Ponder, a physical therapist assistant.

    Through Pain University, the Tomah VA developed many different programs for veterans, like the ancient Chinese martial art.

    "It's better than just stretching, than doing normal calisthenics and whatnot and you know it's funner," said Glen Cook Jr., a veteran. "You're trying to calm yourself, what's inside of you. Look into your own body, feel where your pain is and work around it."

    Cook Jr. began doing tai chi last fall, before classes were offered in January, but joined on and has since become a regular participant.

    "In there, taking my feet off the ground, you know six months ago I couldn't do that. You know, it's helped me a lot for, like I said, balance and you know just self confidence in myself," said Cook Jr.

    Tai chi is more than just physical, it can help with depression and anxiety as well.

    "Veterans saying 'Oh, I noticed that I was thinking about my breathing the other day when I was stressed out.' Or 'I noticed that I changed the way I moved, instead of twisting through my spine I shifted my weight like we do in tai chi,'" said Ponder.

    Along with a standing tai chi class that is offered once per week, there is also an adaptive seated version: the first established in the nation.
    Gene Ching
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  7. #7
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    NPR podcast

    To Treat Pain, PTSD And Other Ills, Some Vets Try Tai Chi

    April 2, 20183:45 PM ET
    Heard on All Things Considered
    BLAKE FARMER

    FROM
    Nashville Public Radio


    Veterans in Murfreesboro, Tenn., enjoy a wheelchair tai chi class; other alternative health programs now commonly offered at VA hospitals in the U.S. include yoga, mindfulness training and art therapy.
    Blake Farmer/Nashville Public Radio

    Every week in Murfreesboro, Tenn., Zibin Guo guides veterans in wheelchairs through slow-motion tai chi poses as a Bluetooth speaker plays soothing instrumental music.

    "Cloudy hands to the right, cloudy hands to the left," he tells them. "Now we're going to open your arms, grab the wheels and 180-degree turn."

    The participants swivel about-face and continue to the next pose. Guo, a medical anthropologist at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, has modified his tai chi to work from a seated position. Even though many of the participants are not wheelchair-bound, using the mobile chairs makes it easier for them to get through a half-hour of movement.

    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has given $120,000 in grant money to Guo to spread his special wheelchair tai chi curriculum. He started in Chattanooga, and has expanded his class offerings to Murfreesboro.

    This idea of going beyond prescriptions — and especially beyond opioids — in dealing with different sorts of pain and trauma has become a focus of the VA nationally.

    In Tennessee, nearly a quarter of all VA patients with an active medical prescription were on opioids in 2012. That number is now down to 15 percent, but that's still higher than in most other parts of the country.

    According to a national survey from 2015, nearly every VA hospital now offers some kind of alternative health treatment — like yoga, mindfulness and art therapy.

    Guo is teaching people in a half dozen VA hospitals in Florida, Texas, Utah and Arizona to use his version of tai chi. He believes the focus on breathing and mindfulness — paired with manageable physical activity — can help ease a variety of ailments.

    "When you have a good amount of body harmony, people tend to engage in proactive life," he says, "so that helps with all kinds of symptoms."

    In addition to making a vet feel better physically, the VA also hopes these alternative therapies might help ease symptoms of conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder.


    Medical anthropologist Zibin Guo (center) adapted tai chi for people with limited mobility. Though there's little research evidence confirming that tai chi eases drug cravings or symptoms of post-traumatic stress, the veterans in Guo's class say the program helps them.
    Blake Farmer/Nashville Public Radio

    Thomas Sales, of Nashville, Tenn., says his latest panic attack caught him by surprise. "Night before last, when we had the thunderstorm," he says. "The thunder is a big trigger for some people."

    It's been 25 years after Sales fought in the first Gulf War with the Navy Special Warfare Command, and he still has panic attacks regularly.

    "You'll find yourself flashing back to being out there with the fellas, and you'll just kind of snap," he says. "And I found myself, for some reason, thinking about doing the breathing techniques [from tai chi], and doing the 'heaven and earth,' and then breathing deep and slow."

    Sales says he knows it must look crazy to some people when he reaches to the sky and then sweeps his arms to the ground. There was a time when he would have agreed. Most of the patients in this class had some skepticism going into the tai chi program. But Vietnam veteran Jim Berry of Spring Hill, Tenn., says he's now convinced of its value.

    "My daughter sent me a t-shirt that sums it up," he says. "Tai chi is more than old folks chasing trees."

    Berry credits meditation and tai chi with helping him quit smoking. "No cigarettes for three months now," he says.

    Zarita Croney, a veteran with the National Guard, says tai chi has helped her with chemical dependency. She now makes the nearly two-hour drive from Hopkinsville, Ky., to Murfreesboro each week, and has reduced her use of pills for pain.

    "My whole life ... revolved around, 'Oh shoot, when can I take my next pill?' " Croney recalls. "I've gone from about 90 percent of my day being on my bed to being able to come out and be social."

    The VA has been aggressively trying to wean vets off high-powered opioids — using prescription data as a key measurement to judge how its hospitals across the country are doing with that goal.

    The VA acknowledges that there's little evidence at this point that tai chi or mindfulness therapy or acupuncture will ease PTSD or addiction, though recently there has been research into the quality of life benefits of tai chi among the elderly.

    But physicians say they suspect many of the opioisa aren't always helping veterans either, and the drugs carry more risks.

    Aaron Grobengieser, who oversees alternative medicine at the VA hospital in Murfreesboro, says tai chi won't replace medication. But it might help reduce prescriptions, and the agency plans to start measuring that.

    "I believe this is going to be an avenue," he says, "to really help address that group of folks [who are] looking for ways to manage those types of conditions without popping another pill."

    This story is part of NPR's reporting partnership with Nashville Public Radio and Kaiser Health News.
    Guo is doing fantastic work with this. It's really inspirational.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  8. #8
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    More veteran support through Tai Chi (& yoga)

    Aleda E. Lutz VA welcomes veterans to yoga and Tai Chi classes
    Midland Daily News Published 9:18 am EDT, Monday, July 23, 2018

    The Aleda E. Lutz VAMC in Saginaw has been heavily engaged in promoting integrative therapies, as part of the Whole Health Approach, to help veterans deal with pain, anxiety, depression, flexibility and other chronic health conditions.

    Just recently, they have developed classes for veterans who are enrolled in VA health care in Tai Chi and yoga. Veterans can stop in on Thursdays for yoga which begins at 8:30 a.m. or Tai Chi which begins at 10 a.m. All classes are held at the VA Medical Center, 1500 Weiss St. in Saginaw, at the activities pavilion, located near the north parking lot.

    "These types of exercise have helped many veterans achieve their health goals, reduce or manage pain, provide a sense of calm, and much more. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to offer these classes to veterans," said Dr. Barbara Bates, acting medical center director.

    Veterans who would like to learn more about Whole Health and Integrative Therapies are encouraged to talk with their VA health care provider and team.

    More information about the Aleda E. Lutz VAMC can be found at www.saginaw.va.gov
    THREADS:
    Tai Chi, Veterans & PTSD
    Yoga
    Gene Ching
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  9. #9
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    Though not Taiji-related, I highly recommend the book Policing Saigon, by martial artist and retired LEO Loren W. Christensen, about his experiences as an MP in Saigon from 1969-70, during the Vietnam war, and the PTSD he's experienced from his time there. It's an excellent read and very insightful.

  10. #10
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    Ashtin Swaim (& Loren W. Christensen)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    Though not Taiji-related, I highly recommend the book Policing Saigon, by martial artist and retired LEO Loren W. Christensen, about his experiences as an MP in Saigon from 1969-70, during the Vietnam war, and the PTSD he's experienced from his time there. It's an excellent read and very insightful.
    We've done some sweepstakes promotions for several of Christensen's books, particularly his Dukkha series.

    There are more pix in a gallery with this article but I only copied the first one.
    Veterans find balance, relaxation with tai chi at VA center
    Updated 6:53 AM; Posted 6:53 AM
    By Heather Jordan heather_jordan@mlive.com



    SAGINAW, MI -- On a recent Wednesday afternoon, a group of veterans gathered in the activities pavilion at Saginaw's Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center to practice the ancient Chinese tradition of tai chi.

    Relaxing music played as physical therapist Ashtin Swaim stood at the front of the room, directing their attention inward toward their breath and posture. Once everyone had found the proper alignment, she led the group in doing gentle, synchronized movements with names such as "heavy arms" and "riding the horse."

    "Bring your arm up and then slowly let it fall. Gravity kind of takes over," she said. "It should be a relaxed momentum. Just let that tension go in your neck and shoulders."

    Swaim said the benefits of tai chi include improved balance and mobility and relief from stress and pain.

    "It's very basic. It's low impact," she said. "(It's a good way to) get you moving and kind of connect with other veterans."


    Veterans find balance, relaxation with tai chi

    Allen Schreur, 71 of Bay City, only wishes he had tried it sooner.

    "I think it's an excellent thing. Unfortunately, I started 50 years too late," said Schreur, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1969 to 1971.

    After several weeks of practice, he has noticed the effects of tai chi on his body.

    The movements may be small, but "you're also using muscles you haven't used," he said.

    The Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center is now offering walk-in tai chi and yoga classes for veterans, no prescription or doctor's note required.

    The classes, offered every Thursday morning, are free for veterans who are enrolled in VA health care at the Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center or any of its clinics in Alpena, Bad Axe, Cadillac, Cheboygan County, Claire, Gaylord, Gladwin, Oscoda or Traverse City, said spokeswoman Carrie Seward.

    Although the weekly walk-in classes are new as of June, the VA has been offering tai chi and yoga for veterans with chronic pain to promote comfort and increase function as part of its whole health and integrative therapies initiative for the past few years, she said.

    Now, VA officials hope to increase awareness of the new walk-in classes so more veterans can give tai chi and yoga a try.

    Anthony Bosco, 75, of Freeland, started tai chi about six months ago. He has had two knee operations and said tai chi is helping him.

    "I think it's great. It's good for balance. It's good for old people. It's a way to exercise ... relax, breathe properly," said Bosco, a Vietnam veteran who served in the U.S. Air Force mobile strike force from 1962 to 1966.

    Bosco practiced judo while he was in the Air Force, but had no prior experience with tai chi.

    It takes some "getting used to your body," he said. And "it's good for the mind, good for the brain."

    Drop-in yoga classes are offered at 8:30 a.m. and tai chi begins at 10 a.m. every Thursday. The Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center is located at 1500 Weiss St.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  11. #11
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    I think a lot of people that were in the military do suffer from anxiety, depression


    Veterans take on Tai Chi to combat stress

    By Megan McNeil | Posted: Wed 4:35 PM, Aug 29, 2018 | Updated: Thu 7:41 AM, Aug 30, 2018

    GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- Tai Chi is a form of martial arts, and it's helping some veterans on the Western Slope de-stress.

    [IMG]http://media.graytvinc.com/images/690*388/tai+chi8.jpg[/IMG]

    It's a class that got started this year, and it's paid for federally through the healing arts grant for veterans. Slow, methodical movements in Tai Chi are meant to help people focus on the here and now.

    "I think a lot of people that were in the military do suffer from anxiety, depression and PTSD, just like I do, and if they come and do this I think they will also get the benefits of learning how to be in the present and to calm your body,” said Sarra Bowen, Veteran. “When you calm your body, it helps to also calm your mind."

    The class happens every Wednesday at the Masonic Center in Grand Junction at 1 p.m.
    There's a vid behind the link too, although the subtitles spell it "Thai" instead of "Tai"
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  12. #12
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    Summer 2019

    New National Program Sends Vets to Tai Chi for Alternative Care
    By Rosalyn Da Wei


    SUMMER 2019
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  13. #13
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    there's a news vid behind this link

    From tai chi to acupuncture, VA embracing new kind of health care
    by Emily Baucum, Fox San AntonioThursday, October 10th 2019

    From tai chi to acupuncture, VA embracing new kind of health care (SBG photo)

    SAN ANTONIO (WOAI/KABB) – The Department of Veterans Affairs is embracing a new kind of health care. For some veterans, acupuncture and tai chi are even replacing painkillers.

    Fox San Antonio was granted exclusive access into the new Whole Health program. San Antonio is one of its flagship sites, and it could revolutionize how the VA approaches chronic conditions like pain and PTSD.

    Take one look at Alan Van Valkenburg’s t-shirt and you know exactly what makes the longtime Army combat medic tick.

    "Dad, grandpa, veteran,” he reads from the shirt. “Those are my priorities.

    Outside the VA Medical Center, he told us about his journey.

    “You're trained from day one to go, go, go. Mission first. And you don't take care of yourself,” Van Valkenburg says.

    He has PTSD from what he saw in war. Two years ago, a major stroke forced him to relearn how to walk and how to see.

    "After the stroke, simple things can be frustrating,” Van Valkenburg says.

    He’s now in the Whole Health Program, working with a health coach and setting goals to improve his mind and body.

    "Were there any areas that stood out to you?" the health coach asks.

    “Physical well-being,” Van Valkenburg answers.

    “So working the body?” the health coach asks.

    “Yes,” Van Valkenburg says. "It comes back to having the PTSD and the depression. And not wanting to do things."

    Dr. Elizabeth Halmai, the clinical director for Whole Health at the VA Medical Center, says the program is a new way for veterans to look at health care.

    "It's to help people re-engage with that purpose or meaning that maybe they lost,” Dr. Halmai explains. "Very different from traditional medicine. We oftentimes refer to traditional medicine as being a 'find it, fix it' model. We're really geared toward the symptoms the veteran is having, and how do we help them address those symptoms."

    Van Valkenburg’s gotten relaxation coaching to rest his mind and even sleep better. There’s acupuncture to help with pain, and tai chi for strength and balance.

    Any veteran can sign up for Whole Health, with any diagnosis. We watched the tai chi instructor modify movements for a veteran with a prosthetic leg.

    "This isn't your grandfather's VA,” reporter Emily Baucum says.

    "Not at all. Not at all,” Dr. Halmai says with a laugh.

    She calls Whole Health a preventive approach that can keep a veteran healthier, longer.

    "We start seeing a reduction in both pharmacy costs and outpatient costs,” Dr. Halmai says. "One of the reasons that Whole Health is actually here is to really tackle that opioid epidemic. We actually have seen a reduction in opioid use and opioid costs for those individuals that actually do engage in Whole Health."

    The VA believes Whole Health could also help prevent suicides. Doctors are working to target people transitioning from active duty to veteran status, a group that’s most at-risk of mental health issues.

    "I'm 56, so I'm not young either,” Van Valkenburg says. “But I've got a couple of friends that are Vietnam veterans and they are embracing this program. Because it's never been here for us before."

    He’s learned to connect his health into the priorities he wears over his heart.

    "It's made me take a harder look at myself and where I want to be from now, to the future,” Van Valkenburg says. So I can see my grandson at 18 and watch him graduate. I want to see him graduate."

    By EMILY BAUCUM
    The still from the vid looks more like baduanjin than tai chi, but we won't quibble.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    The still from the vid looks more like baduanjin than tai chi, but we won't quibble.
    Thanks for posting that. From the video, that looks like a very good program they're running. It's heartening to see some positive news once in a while, even from within big bureaucratic institutions.

  15. #15
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    Happy Veteran's Day in advance...

    Free Tai Chi demonstration and class at VA Hospital on Thursday 11/14
    By Jocelyn Murray, Patch Contributor
    Nov 8, 2019 10:09 am ET



    In remembrance of Veterans Day, Aiping Tai Chi Center, southern Connecticut's largest Tai Chi school based in Orange, will be offering a free Tai Chi demonstration and class for US military veterans. The class will be held on Thursday, November 14, 2019 from 2:00 -3:00pm at the Veterans Hospital, 950 Campbell Ave. in West Haven (Building 2/Patient and Family Education Room) and is open to all. No registration required.

    "As a Marine Veteran I have always sought a way to cope with my issues on my own terms. This journey led me to martial arts where I discovered the practice and philosophy of Taijiquan. Practicing Taiji over the years has helped me to find a place of peace and balance," says Mike Johnson, Aiping Tai Chi Center student. "It has helped me to understand myself on a deeper level, giving me more tools to deal with life and the additional stress of being a combat vet."

    Aiping Tai Chi Center co-director and instructor Shirley Chock offers the free class for veterans every year as a way to pay respect and show appreciation for their service and sacrifice.

    According to Chock, "My grandparents raised me in Taiwan when I was a child. My grandfather fought two wars in China: first against the Japanese invasion and then against the communist revolution. My sense of discipline and respect was greatly shaped by my grandfather's military background."

    Research shows that Tai Chi can have beneficial impact on both physical and mental health. For more information about the class or Tai Chi, visit facebook.com/aipingtaichi.
    THREADS
    Tai Chi, Veterans & PTSD
    Happy Veteran's Day
    Gene Ching
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