Yoga, tai chi, meditation improve veterans’ mental, physical health

Good News Notes:

A combination of yoga, tai chi and meditation was linked to significant mental and physical health improvements among veterans, according to study results published in Medical Care.

‘Deployment in the Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom wars led to increased musculoskeletal pain and decreased mental and physical health functioning among many returning service members and veterans,’ A. Rani Elwy, PhD, of the Veterans Affairs Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research at Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, and colleagues wrote. ‘Recognition of the lack of effective allopathic treatments for treating veterans’ chronic pain, posttraumatic stress and other mental and physical health disorders led the Department of Veterans Affairs and the [NIH] to fund research on complementary and integrative health (CIH) approaches to care, such as meditation and mindfulness-based stress reduction as treatments for posttraumatic stress and yoga for the treatment of chronic low back pain. Indeed, the demand for such approaches to care came from veterans themselves, who began seeking such services outside of [VA] health care when these were not readily available to them within the Veterans Health Administration.’

Following congressional passage of the 2016 Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), the Veterans Health Administration’s State-of-the-Art Conference addressing chronic musculoskeletal pain using nonpharmacologic approaches called for additional studies meant to determine frequencies and combinations of treatment, such as CIH approaches to care. Thus, VA facilities increased availability of CIH approaches to veterans, and the VA allowed these approaches to be implemented as part of veterans’ medical benefits package. Such approaches included meditation, yoga, tai chi, therapeutic massage, acupuncture, guided imagery, biofeedback and hypnosis.”

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