Army's New PTSD Treatments: Yoga, Reiki, 'Bioenergy'

As many as 17 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have some form of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, one congressional study estimates. Nearly 3,300 troops have suffered traumatic brain injury, or TBI, according to statistics assembled last summer. And the lifetime costs of treating these ailments could pile up to as much as $35 billion, a Columbia University report guesses.

Small wonder, then, that the government is looking for alternate means to treat these injuries. The Defense Department "is dedicated to supporting evidence-based approaches to medical treatment and wants to support the use of alternative therapies if they are proven efficacious," notes a recently-issued request for proposals. 

     

The military is scrambling for new ways to treat the brain injuries and post-traumatic stress of troops returning home from war. And every kind of therapy — no matter how far outside the accepted medical form — is being considered. The Army just unveiled a $4 million program to investigate everything from "spiritual ministry, transcendental meditation, [and] yoga" to "bioenergies such as Qi gong, Reiki, [and] distant healing" to mend the psyches of wounded troops.

But many of these treatments haven’t been held up to much rigorous scientific scrutiny before. So the Army is looking to hand out $4 million in "seedling grants" to "conduc[t] rigorous clinical studies" into all sorts of "novel approaches." Projects "containing preliminary data" will be eligible for up to $1 million. But even "innovative but testable hypotheses without preliminary data" could get as much as $300,000. Proposals are due May 15.

"Music, animal-facilitated therapy, art, dance/movement, massage therapy, EMDR [Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing] program evaluation, virtual reality, acupuncture, spiritual ministry, transcendental meditation, [and] yoga," might all be considered worth of the military’s largess. So would "biologically-based treatments, botanicals, and nutritional supplements for enhancing cognitive function and mood in patients with trauma spectrum disorders, including TBI and/or PTSD, depression, anxiety, and/or substance dependence/abuse." Even proposals for wild-sounding "therapies using bioenergies such as Qi gong, Reiki, distant healing and acupuncture" would be accepted.

The program also wants to investigate the "perceptions" of these treatments, and any "gender-specific implications and issues" involved. All "proposals must provide a clear justification and military relevance for the choice of therapies selected," the Army reminds grant applicants.

This isn’t the first time the military has investigated these sorts of nontraditional approaches. The semi-legendary "First Earth Battalion," immortalized in The Men Who Stare at Goats, advocated that soldiers utilize everything from "yogic cat stretch[es]" to "Ginseng tab regulator[s]" to "amphetamines." A 1973 RAND Corporation study, put together for Darpa, lamented Soviet advances over the American military in everything from yoga to telekinesis. More recently, Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., inserted $2 million into last year’s defense budget bill for "research into the effects of prayer." Darpa has invested millions into natural dietary supplements. Troops — even flag-level officers — have been known to do yoga on their own.

And while some of these techniques seem way out there — I mean way, way out there — others may have a more practical effect on psychiatric health. Yoga, for instance, has been shown to improve the mood of psychiatric inpatients and reduce so-called "stress hormones" like cortisol. After promising early results, planning is underway for a major study into the effects of yoga on the treatment of schizophrenia. Full disclosure:



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Posted by on April 1, 2009, With Reads Filed under Veterans. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

5 Responses to "Army's New PTSD Treatments: Yoga, Reiki, 'Bioenergy'"

  1. Reiki Images for Relaxation  March 25, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Reiki, together with other alternative forms of healing, is gaining popularity not because of hype but because it has received a lot of positive feedback from people who’ve tried. There are a lot of information available online. I’m glad more and more people are aware of Reiki.

  2. Will Milian, LMT  September 19, 2009 at 8:14 am

    As a Reiki Practitioner myself I have seen first hand how Reiki has made huge difference in my life and in people that have come in.

    I remember this one guy came in with Bells Palsy (half his face was paralyzed) when we started his session I had no expectations. At the end of his first session he had movement in his forehead. That night he was able to sleep without taping his eye shut. read his comment here in Testimonials http://willmt.com/10.html

    I’m in the Fort Lauderdale area. http://www.willmt.com

  3. SproutYoga  April 29, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Sprout Yoga provides free yoga for people overcoming PTSD. Visit us on the web at http://www.sproutyoga.org. For more information on how yoga helps heal PTSD check out Sprout’s blog http://www.padmaease.wordpress.com

  4. Pamela Revard  April 23, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Reiki may sound way out there to some of you but, please trust me, it works.
    Reiki saved my Son’s life in 2001. Since then, I have become a Reiki Master, and work in the Rochester, NY area. So, find a reputable practitioner, and give it a try.

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