Dear Friends:

Back with another post on healing our military Wounded Warriors and Veterans through holistic care. In the current wars, our main problems are not bullet wounds, or even amputations, but traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Studies have estimated that as many as 30%  of those deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from one or both of these conditions ( as do many Veterans of prior conflicts). Conventional medicine (pills and surgery), while sometimes helpful, are often not effective. Fortunately, there is growing evidence that some very simple and inexpensive therapies– making art or music, and spending time in nature– are often very helpful in TBI/PTSD. For instance, studies have shown:

–Music therapy improves cognitive function and depression in TBI;

–Art therapy improves anxiety and depression in PTSD patients, while music therapy and pre-sleep drawing exercises improve sleep and reduce nightmares;

–Dancing improves balance and coordination in TBI patients, compared to muscle-based physical therapy;

–Art making can help military families deal with the stress of military deployment.                                                  (References available on request).

Testimony from Wounded Warriors backs up these findings. At the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE), Bethesda , MD– the military’s cutting-edge care center for TBI/PTSD– patients routinely describe the arts program as the single most helpful part of their therapy.

These modalities are also quite safe (an estimated 0.5% incidence of adverse effects, compared to 20% or more for pills and surgery). Best of all, you don’t need a hospital or clinic to administer them. By offering local arts programs and garden projects,  communities can help heal their Warriors and Veterans in their own neighborhoods.

My next posts will tell about the healing effects of exposure to nature, and describe some of the arts and nature programs being developed for the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, MD, where NICoE is located.

(NOTE: I am not currently a federal employee, and my views do not represent the views of the U.S. Government or the Department of Defense.)

 

 

Dear Friends:

This begins my regular Blog on poetry, holistic medicine, and healing our Nation’s Wounded Warriors! In future postings, I will highlight both the spectacular powers of holistic medicine, and the inspiring stories of many healers and organizations who have applied them to help our Troops. Please join in with your comments on these important topics, to build our healing outreach to our beloved Warriors and Veterans. Holistic care is not only the work of hospitals: it can be practiced by families and communities for support of the Warriors and Veterans on their midst.

Over the past few years, the military has pioneered holistic care in treating the “invisible wounds” of the Iraq and Afghan wars, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and PTSD. The new multimillion dollar Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, MD, has been the biggest focus of these efforts. While conventional care, such as medications and surgery, are sometimes of little use, that does not mean these wounds are incurable! Holistic care modalities are helping our Warriors every day at Walter Reed, and evidence for their powerful effects is growing by leaps and bounds.

The term “holistic care” means any treatment that affects the entire body (rather than just one organ or body part  as with conventional care). Holistic care includes “healing environment” buildings; family-centered care; integration of care (a single care plan instead of many); and basic and advanced wellness. This Blog will focus somewhat on basic wellness (nutrition, exercise, stress management, and alternative medicine); but especially on advanced wellness: the use of nature, art, and spirituality in treating TBI/PTSD. Large scale programs in all these areas have been developed to heal our Warriors, at Walter Reed and across the country.

Future installments will discuss some of the ways of  healing Wounded Warriors through the arts and nature, and how we may spread community-based initiatives in these areas across the State of Maryland and beyond.

Peace, Fred Foote