Tai Chi for PTSD A Rational:

Tai Chi For Health  Can Decrease Stress,
and Improve Functional Outcomes for Post Traumatic Stress ( PTSD )
by Dr. Paul Lam and Jef Morris, Master Trainer

On our many visits to the Miami Veterans Health Care Center, we recognized the overwhelming needs of this population and became very interested in a collaborative effort for physical therapists to care for these individuals.  

The Veterans returning from the wars in the Middle East pose many post traumatic stress related and
physical mobility challenges for physical therapists involved in their care.

One of the keys to effective outcomes for these clients may be the incorporation of modified Tai Chi exercises to help to effectively manage the time spent in rehabilitation, to re-focus these clients in the tasks at hand in spite of stress, pain, stiffness and fatigue.

Dr. Paul Lam, a family physician, in Sydney Australia, suggests Tai Chi practice will lead to better health and harmony. Health means improved balance, flexibility, strength and fitness or cardiovascular respiratory functions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, as well as improvement of mental concentration and reduction of stress.

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GENE MAY HELP EXPLAIN POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
By Lindsey Tanner, AP Medical Writer, Wednesday, March
19, 2008, 7:42 a.m., PDT

CHICAGO - Groundbreaking research suggests genes help explain why some people can recover from a traumatic event while others suffer post-traumatic stress disorder. Though preliminary, the study provides insight into a condition expected to strike increasing numbers of military veterans returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, one health expert said.

Researchers found that specific variations in a stress-related gene appeared to be influenced by trauma at a young age -- in this case child abuse. That interaction strongly increased the chances for
adult survivors of abuse to develop signs of PTSD.

The worse the abuse, the stronger the risk in people with those gene variations.  The study of 900 adults is among the first to show that genes can be influenced by outside, nongenetic factors to trigger signs of PTSD. It is the largest of just two reports to show molecular evidence of a genetic influence onPTSD.

About a quarter of a million Americans will develop PTSD at some point in their lives after being
victimized or witnessing violence or other traumatic events. Rates are much higher in war veterans and people living in high-crime areas.

Symptoms can develop long after the event and usually include recurrent terrifying recollections of the
trauma. Sufferers often have debilitating anxiety, irritability, insomnia and other signs of stress. Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, said the study is particularly valuable for the light it sheds on military veterans, who are known to be vulnerable to PTSD.

He said the results help explain differences in how two people see the same roadside bomb blast. One simply experiences it as "a bad day but goes back and is able to function." The other later develops paralyzing stress symptoms.

"This could be quite a wave that will hit us over the months and years ahead," Insel said. His agency paid for the study.

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EXERCISE IS VERY GOOD FOR THE BRAIN!
PSYCHIATRIST JOHN RATEY, AUTHOR OF "SPARK: THE REVOLUTIONARY NEW SCIENCE OF EXERCISE and THE BRAIN" SAYS IT NOT ONLY IMPROVES COGNITIVE PERFORMANCE, BUT IS "ONE OF THE BEST TREATMENTS WE HAVE" FOR PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS! -

By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer,
Sunday, March 16, 2008

QUESTION: We've heard that exercise increases neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. But what is brain-derived neurotrophic factor and why is it so important?

ANSWER: It is a very key linchpin for me and for the neuroscience community. In the '90s, we learned in a big study [by UC Irvine neuroscientist Carl Cotman] that exercise is one of the factors that delayed the onset of cognitive decline. That surprised a lot of people and no one knew how to account for it.

The assumption was that exercise didn't act on the brain. We also knew there was a thing called BDNF -- brain-derived neurotrophic factor [a protein that helps build and maintain the cell circuitry in the brain]. Another study [also by Cotman] showed exercise elevates BDNF. It truly is Miracle-Gro for the brain.

QUESTION: Why does aerobic activity and complex motor activity, such as martial arts or dance, produce different effects in the brain?

ANSWER: The more complicated the exercise, the more challenging it is. You're challenging the learning and focusing parts of your brain as well as doing the aerobics. It optimizes the brain to learn.

QUESTION: Which is better to do?

ANSWER: The ideal exercise plan would include both exercise that keeps you learning and [exercise that] keeps you moving -- and keeps the challenge up. Challenge is something that we should all be striving for.

It's the key to a long and healthy life.

QUESTION: Is walking helpful for the brain?

ANSWER: Even moving a little bit, such as walking very slowly, causes some increase in heart rate, and it does help. But volume and intensity are different. If you're going to do one, limit the volume and increase the intensity. . . . Intensity is important for the benefits to the brain.

Most of the studies showing the benefit of exercise on depression were of people doing brisk walking. That might be at 65% to 75% of maximum heart rate. But that really is the level where you're just beginning to get a benefit.


PTSD, CHILDREN, ADOLESCENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES A CLINICAL HANDBOOK / PRACTICAL THERAPIST MANUAL For Assessing and Treating Adults with PTSD
www.melissainstitute.org/documents/7th_MI_conf_handout.pdf
by Dr. Donald Meichenbaum,Distinguished Professor Emeritus University of  Waterloo and Director of the Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment of Victims,
http://www.melissainstitute.org/about.html, Miami, Florida,

Dr. Donald Meichenbaum, a founder of Cognitive Behavioral Modification, was voted one of the ten most influential psychotherapists of the century by North American clinicians in a survey reported in the American Psychologist.

Dr. Meichenbaum is the author and co-author of numerous books including: A Clinical Handbook/Practical Therapist Manual for Assessing and Treating Adults with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Stress Inoculation Training, Pain and Behavioral Medicine, and Facilitating Treatment Adherence . His book, Cognitive Behavior Modification: An Integrative Approach, is considered a classic in its field. He also serves as the editor of the Plenum Press Series on Stress and Coping.