In the general population, the lifetime risk of developing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
is estimated to be 8.7%. Among Veterans seeking VA services the
risk is higher, with an estimate of 23.1%. PTSD and its symptoms
often become chronic and are associated with a loss of physical,
financial and psychological well-being.
Tai Chi is practiced today as a graceful form of exercise that
involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner
accompanied by deep breathing and mindfulness. In addition to physical
improvements in flexibility, strength and pain management, there is
evidence that Tai Chi improves sleep and reduces depression and anger.
‘Veterans with symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) found that Tai Chi helped reduce their symptoms including managing intrusive thoughts, difficulties with concentration and physiological arousal.’
Veterans with symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder who
participated in Tai Chi not only would recommend it to a friend, but
also found the ancient Chinese tradition helped with their symptoms
including managing intrusive thoughts, difficulties with concentration
and physiological arousal.
The findings, which appear in the journal BMJ Open
, are the first to examine feasibility, qualitative feedback and satisfaction associated with Tai Chi for this population.
17 Veterans with post traumatic stress symptoms enrolled in
a four-session introduction to Tai Chi program. After the final session,
participants reported favorable impressions of the program. Nearly 94
percent were very or mostly satisfied and all participants indicated
that they would like to participate in future Tai Chi programs and would
recommend it to a friend. In addition, they described feeling very
engaged during the sessions and found Tai Chi to be helpful for managing
distressing PTSD symptoms.
According to the researchers this study provides evidence for the
feasibility of enrolling and engaging Veterans with symptoms of PTSD in a
Tai Chi exercise program.
"Our findings also indicate that Tai Chi is a
safe physical activity and appropriate for individuals with varying
physical capabilities. Given our positive findings, additional research
is needed to empirically evaluate Tai Chi as a treatment for symptoms of
PTSD," said Barbara Niles, assistant professor of psychiatry at
Boston University School of Medicine and staff research psychologist at
the National Center for PTSD - Behavioral Science Division, VA Boston