VA Gets More Money to Explore Alternative Therapies for Wounded Veterans

Monday, 09 Jan 2012 05:59 PM

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The Department of Veterans Affairs has received additional funding for studies into the effectiveness of alternative therapies to help veterans deal with stress and physical pain from combat.

At least 89 percent of VA medical centers offered alternative forms of therapy in 2011, including yoga classes, acupuncture, Tai-Chi and meditation, music therapy, energy healing and even sweat lodge sessions, reports UT San Diego.

Some patients report that these therapies have allowed them to rely less on pain medication and sleeping pills. However, a May VA research conference concluded that evidence of the benefit of these therapies on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — which along with traumatic brain injury (TBI) are the signature wounds of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — is still thin, UT San Diego reports.

Now VA researchers in San Diego, which has the largest population of post-9/11 military veterans in the nation, have received funding to conduct additional studies, according to UT San Diego.

“We’ve done a lot of work in many areas of PTSD research that has produced effective treatments, but we are not done,” said VA Deputy Secretary W. Scott Gould, at the May conference in Washington, D.C.

“That is why we need to keep our curious minds open and receptive to new ideas.”

Dr. Stephen Ezeji-Okoye, a Palo Alto, Calif., physician and chairman of the VA’s alternative medicine committee, told UT San Diego that the VA is venturing slowly and carefully toward these kinds of practices.

“We’re looking at it not as ... alternative medicine or Western medicine. We’re looking at it as, is it effective medicine,” he said.




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