At least 15 percent of U.S. military servicemen and women suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Intense psychotherapy and medication are the traditional therapies. Now, researchers are studying the impact of one form of martial arts on veterans.
Jiu Jitsu is more than just combative martial arts for Army veteran Jacob King.
King detailed, “I lost some friends oversees. That was really difficult for me to cope with.”
Jiu Jitsu is helping him battle PTSD.
King described, “Feeling in my chest, I’d get a headache, get a little dizzy. This is not normal. This isn’t right.”
About 15 percent who served in Operation Iraqi freedom and Enduring Freedom have PTSD. Gulf War veterans: 12 percent and the Vietnam War: 15 percent.
“There really are no good therapies out there right now,” said Alison Willing, Ph.D, a professor at the University of South Florida’s Center of Aging and Brain Repair in Tampa, Florida.
Willing said costly intense therapy and medication has a low success rate. This is why she’s studying the effects of Jiu Jitsu on PTSD.
Willing said, “The effects of this first study were so dramatic. The PTSD scores on all of the valid scales were getting so much better to the point where you don’t usually see with traditional PTSD therapies.”
King’s headaches and sleepless nights have pretty much gone away.
King said, “I feel good. I haven’t felt this way since before the military before Afghanistan, before everything. I feel okay.”
“The fact that we’re still engaged in these actions overseas means it’s only going to get worse,” said Willings.
“This is what’s holding me together right now,” detailed King.
A combative sport that may be King’s best defense against the symptoms of PTSD.
Professor Willing said as the study continues they’ll have a better idea of how often the Jiu Jitsu will need to be done for veterans to feel the continued effects.