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Health Beat: Jiu Jitsu for PTSD

TAMPA, Fla. - Jiu Jitsu is more than just combative martial arts for Army veteran Jacob King.

"I lost some friends oversees," King said. "That was really difficult for me to cope with."

Jiu Jitsu is helping him battle PTSD.

"Feeling in my chest, I'd get a headache, get a little dizzy. This is not normal. This isn’t right," King described.

About 15 percent who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation 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, 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 have a low success rate. That is why she's studying the effects of Jiu Jitsu on PTSD.

"The effects of this first study were so dramatic," Willing said. "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.

"I feel good," King said. "I haven't felt this way since before the military, before Afghanistan, before everything. I feel OK."

"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.

It's a combative sport that may be King's best defense against the symptoms of PTSD.

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.


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