Tai Chi for PTSD A Rational:
Tai Chi For Health Can Decrease Stress,
Improve Functional Outcomes for Post Traumatic Stress
( PTSD )
by Dr. Paul Lam and Jef Morris,
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
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
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.
EXERCISE IS VERY GOOD FOR THE BRAIN!
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
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
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
PTSD, CHILDREN, ADOLESCENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES A
CLINICAL HANDBOOK / PRACTICAL THERAPIST MANUAL For
Assessing and Treating Adults with PTSD
by Dr. Donald Meichenbaum,Distinguished Professor
University of Waterloo and Director of the Melissa
Violence Prevention and Treatment of Victims,
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
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.