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Surf program helps veterans with traumatic brain injuries

Posted on in Catastrophic Injuries

There are different types of traditional therapy that can be used to help brain injury victims. Often individuals who've suffered a traumatic brain injury must relearn even the most common everyday tasks such as eating and walking. Typically, patients will endure cognitive therapy and long-term physical therapy to help retrain their brain and muscles.

One particular group that has been the focus of brain injury treatment is the group of veterans who return from active duty with traumatic brain injuries. It is estimated that approximately 115,000 troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan sustained serious brain injuries. And though the specific needs for each injured soldier may differ, some are hopeful that a new type of therapy will help their recovery both mentally and physically.

It is easy to forget that a traumatic brain injury can also have a serious impact on the victim's mental health. Brain injury victims can become easily discouraged; motions that had been second nature prior to the injury may now be extremely challenging. But physicians are finding that surfing could be physically, mentally, and emotionally therapeutic for traumatic brain injury victims.

One family has begun holding ocean therapy sessions at Camp Pendleton in California. Regardless of the different types of injuries, the veterans were responding positively to the surfing program. A spokesperson for the surfing program said that many of the veterans were having breakthroughs after surfing sessions.

One psychiatrist notes that the concentration and effort required for surfing is what is helping the veterans. Instead of focusing on their injuries, the wounded soldiers have to keep their mind in the present. This allows the surfer to direct mental and physical effort toward surfing, which in many cases naturally helps the rehabilitation process.

Source: Fox News online, "How Surfing Is Helping to Heal Wounded Warriors," Karlie Pouliot, 09 June 2011

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