By: Rebecca Bartelme
It’s a mix of martial arts and a combat sport that may be just what veterans need to defend themselves against PTSD. This is what you would see in a typical Brazillian jiu jitsu class. But it’s more than just combative martial arts for army veteran Jacob King.
King says, “I lost some friends oversees. That was really difficult for me to cope with.”
Jiu jitsu is helping him battle PTSD.
King says, “Feeling in my chest, I’d get a headache, get a little dizzy. This is not normal. This isn’t right.”
About 15 % who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have PTSD. Gulf war veterans: 12%. And the Vietnam War: 15%.
Dr. Alison Willing, a professor at USF Center of Aging and Brain Repair says, “There really are no good therapies out there right now.”
Dr. Willing says costly intense therapy and medication has a low success rate. This is why she’s studying the effects of jiu jitsu on PTSD.
Dr. Willing says, “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 says, “I feel good. I haven’t felt this way since before the military before Afghanistan, before everything. I feel okay.”
Dr. Willing says, “The fact that we’re still engaged in these actions overseas means it’s only going to get worse.”
King says, “this is what’s holding me together right now.”
A combative sport, that may be King’s best defense against the symptoms of PTSD.
Dr. Willing says 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.