A recent article in the New York Times on alternative treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) highlights a key question: how do we know what alternative therapies work to treat our veterans suffering from PTSD?
Dr. Barbara Rothbaum is a psychologist at Emory University who runs an intensive two-week PTSD treatment program that includes complementary and alternative treatments. While compiling a National Academy of Sciences report on therapies for PTSD, she encountered a key issue: “We met a lot of well-meaning clinicians around the country creating programs with equine therapy or wilderness therapy or whatever, and there was no way to know if any of it worked,” said. “Because of that, we couldn’t recommend it.”
This is not to say that the programs do not work—but the evidence base is not strong enough yet. Part of that is a question of research funding. Drug companies have a vested interest in funding multi-million dollar clinical trials. However, many of the organizations running these alternative programs barely have enough funding to carry out the programs, and therefore do not have the extra funding available for the evaluation of these programs—creating a cyclical problem.
“We need to get what doesn’t work OUT and what DOES work IN the regular treatment for PTSD,” said Wayne B. Jonas, MD. “But we can’t do that unless we build evaluation into each program.”
Two recent projects of Samueli Institute are helping to build the evidence base for complementary and alternative treatments for pain, stress and health.
- Stress Management – A new report by Samueli Institute boils down more than a decade of research on stress management. It builds upon an earlier study that focused on military-related programs.
- Massage– Samueli Institute recently published a systematic reviews and meta-analysis series that is the first to rigorously assess the quality of massage therapy research and evidence for its efficacy in treating pain, function-related and health-related quality of life for pain, cancer and surgical patients.
In his article entitled The Evidence of Enough, Dr. Jonas explains the challenge and the imperative of managing and evaluating the growing body of evidence: “A more rigorous management of the judgment processes for evidence is needed. Lives, money and the mitigation of suffering depend on it.” Read more.
Sleep restores the body from a day of work and play. Sleep is essential to your health and wellbeing. Yet for caregivers, sleep disturbances are prevalent, resulting in decreased function, physical pain, fatigue and serious medical problems. [i] Sleep loss in caregivers can be directly related to the stress of caregiving. [i] This is because caregivers are likely to put the needs of others ahead of their own and sometimes, neglect to care for themselves altogether. [ii] Continue reading “Getting a Healthy Sleep: Tips and Advice for Military Caregivers” »
The role of art in healing has existed since the beginning of time. The oldest cave painting is over 40,000 years old, located in Cantabria, Spain. [i] In the years following, there is documented evidence of more expressive art from all over the world. Since the 1940s, art in therapeutic form has been a successful treatment, by helping individuals better understand and express inner thoughts and emotions. [ii] Continue reading “Art Therapy for Military Caregivers: Connect with Your Inner-being” »
A recent study confirmed the link between traumatic brain injury and headaches or migraines.
The article published in the July 2016 Medical Surveillance Monthly Report also shows how the prevalence of headaches for service members with TBI increases with the severity of the injury.
“Compared to service members without TBI, those who sustained a mild TBI were 3.99 times more likely to have a headache or migraine, and those with a moderate/severe TBI were 8.89 times more likely.”[i] – Vincent P. Beswick-Escanlar, MD, MPH et al. (July 2016, MSMR)
Source: Medical Surveillance Monthly Report
This highlights the importance of finding sustainable treatment options for service members experiencing headache due to mild to moderate TBI. Another study also published this year provided evidence that acupuncture should be a standard form of treatment for chronic headaches due to TBI. Researchers discovered that both Traditional Chinese Acupuncture (TCA) and Auricular Acupuncture (AA) were more effective for reducing pain and improving headache-related quality of life than usual care without acupuncture.
Learn more about the Samueli institute study on acupuncture for headache here.
[i] Increasing Severity of Traumatic Brain Injury Is Associated with an Increased Risk of Subsequent Headache or Migraine: A Retrospective Cohort Study of U.S. Active Duty Service Members, 2006–2015
Your external environment is where you live, work and play. Having great experiences in these places requires a bit of creativity. Perhaps you change the color of the walls in your home, or decorate your workplace with greenery. Maybe in your backyard, you plant flowers that give off a wonderful aroma. All of these originally normal spaces become healing spaces when you use your creativity to make them your own. Continue reading “Creating the Optimal External Healing Space” »