Massage & Bodywork

November | December 2014

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70 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k n o v e m b e r / d e c e m b e r 2 0 1 4 Can Craniosacral Therapy Help Veterans Reintegrate? Bringing Them Home By Karrie Osborn A Salute to Those Who Serve Whether the wounds are physical or psychological, massage and bodywork can play a key role in helping war-torn veterans "come home" from their personal battlefields. Studies, case reports, and anecdotal accounts are building recognition for the positive results of a variety of therapies, including energy psychology, Healing Touch, myofascial release, reflexology, Therapeutic Touch, and even yoga. When it comes to addressing the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), craniosacral therapy (CST) offers promising results. UPLEDGER'S WORK WITH VIETNAM VETERANS The late John E. Upledger, DO, OMM, developer of CST, believed there was great potential for his subtle hands-on therapy to help military veterans and other PTSD sufferers. In 1999, Upledger invited groups of Vietnam veterans to be part of two-week intensive programs that used CST to address their post-war issues, including symptoms of PTSD. The study's results were telling: the veterans' obsessive-compulsive scores dropped from the 86th percentile to the 46th, depression scores dropped from 69 to 27, and anxiety scores dropped from 79 to 42. 1 "Dr. Upledger wanted to establish some research to substantiate the effects of the therapy we were doing," says Chas Perry, PhD, a 20-year CST instructor who assisted Upledger in this and other research projects. Upledger noted that "even the administering psychologist had trouble believing the results of his own tests." 2 The psychologist himself wrote, "One of the most dramatic improvements was noted in the area of hopelessness. After completion of the treatment program, the veterans resembled the adult population at large." 3 Perry says the noninvasive nature of CST, combined with its deep sensitivities, makes it a powerful treatment option for veterans. "It's not uncommon that people feel you've not only touched their body, you've touched their soul or spirit," Perry says. "CST has a palpation and sensitivity that allows for something deeper to happen for people." CST AT NAVAL HOSPITAL LEMOORE Upledger's 1999 study helped create a framework for another program to broach the subject in 2004–2005 at California's Naval Hospital Lemoore. "I was sending Navy hospital corpsmen into Iraq and Afghanistan, and everyone who was exposed to significant trauma or combat was impacted," says retired commanding officer Sandy DeGroot, a 30-year Navy nurse. Familiar with CST from her earlier work as a nurse midwife and intrigued by the 1999 study, DeGroot reached out to Upledger to bring a similar intensive craniosacral program to Lemoore. She opened the program to any returning corpsman who had been deployed in a combat region and who was a staff member at Lemoore.

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