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Benefits of yoga for chronic pain

Using video conferencing technology, including the VA’s recently launched web-based telehealth system -  VA Video Connect (VVC), Dr. Bayley and his team hope to better understand the feasibility of delivering an effective pain management tool to veterans from the comfort and convenience of their home. 

Veterans with PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is among the most common and disabling problems for veterans returning from wars in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan. In addition to combat trauma, veterans experience high rates of traumatic events during or after their active-duty careers, such as military sexual trauma, accidents, and injuries. Dr. Peter Bayley and his team are exploring the effectiveness of new treatment options for veterans diagnosed with PTSD.

Transcendental Meditation for PTSD in Veterans

Transcendental Meditation (TM) is among the most promising non-exposure-based treatment for PTSD that is effective and amenable to the unique circumstances of veterans. TM allows the active thinking mind to decompress and settle into a state of peaceful awareness, allowing the brain to function with better coherence and the body to rest through the use of a personal mantra. It has been shown to significantly reduce PTSD symptom severity and depression in a veteran population.

The current study is part of a multi-site trial, where participants will be randomized to receive either TM or Present Centered Therapy in weekly sessions. Dr. Peter Bayley and his team are looking forward to exploring TM as a propitious new treatment for PTSD in veterans, and are actively recruiting participants for the study.

Click here to learn more information about the study and check the eligibility criteria to participate.

Veterans with Chronic Pain

A new telehealth system has recently been introduced by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) which allows patients to communicate with their health care providers from their home via a tablet computer. A program dedicated to Veterans’ post-deployment health concerns and unique health care needs lays an innovative approach to chronic musculoskeletal pain. 

Between 50-75% of veterans report experiencing chronic pain, a notoriously treatment-resistant condition, that typically is managed with medications, but often includes the risk of addiction or overdose.  In recognition of the scope of this problem, the VA has promoted complementary and integrative health (CIH) for use in conjunction with conventional pain treatments.

Yoga to Treat Chronic Pain in Gulf War Veterans

Following service in the 1990-1991 Gulf War, many veterans developed combinations of chronic conditions that could not be explained by established medical diagnoses and reported negative health consequences including chronic pain, fatigue, and cognitive disturbances. This became known as Gulf War illness (GWI). No clear cause or effective treatment for GWI has been firmly identified, and as a result, there has been a gradual shift in the focus of clinical GWI research towards evaluating effectiveness of interventions to alleviate symptoms.

The study enrolled participants that have served in the military in 1990-1991, regardless of deployment, and have symptoms of GWI. The study compared two non-drug treatments for chronic pain in GWI: yoga and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a treatment known to provide relief for some symptoms of GWI. Participants were randomized to receive either CBT or yoga, and both treatment groups attended ten weekly group sessions. 

Overall, yoga improved two core symptoms of GWI: chronic pain and fatigue. This study is among the first to explore the benefits of yoga in alleviating symptoms of GWI. 

Click here to learn more about the study.

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurocognitve disorder with symptoms that typically include gradual loss of cognitive abilities including memory, reasoning, attention and communication skills.  AD is a progressive disorder that develops at different rates and impacts activities of daily living resulting in people living with AD requiring caregiver support. Chronic pain is common in AD patients, and yoga can provide effective treatment for pain, as well as some of the other common health problems in Alzheimer’s disease such as sleep, cognition, and depression. As the impact of caring for a patient with AD is substantial, yoga has also been shown to help with stress relief that many caregivers report. Learn more.

Yoga to Treat Chronic Pain in Alzheimer's Disease

The study tested the feasibility of treating chronic pain with yoga delivered via the internet for people with Alzheimer’s disease, and explored the benefits of relieving caregiver burden.

One of the challenges of providing yoga is the cost of classes, lack of transportation or time, reliance on caregivers, health conditions, and family responsibilities. To overcome these barriers to practicing yoga, the study offered no-cost at-home yoga via the web.

The study enrolled pairs of volunteers, people with probable Alzheimer's disease and their caregiver to practice at-home yoga at the same time. All study participant pairs attended 12 yoga classes with a trained yoga instructor and were provided with all the necessary yoga and electronic equipment (loaned Apple iPad) to practice yoga. The study did not require any inperson visits and was open nationwide. 

Lyme Disease

The Center's for Disease Control report that Lyme disease is caused by infection with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. The majority of cases of Lyme disease can be cured with a 2- to 4-week course of oral antibiotics.  Some patients that have contracted the infection, even if they were treated,  can sometimes develop persistent symptoms of pain, fatigue, or difficulty thinking that may continue for more than 6 months following treatment. When this cluster of symptoms persists patients are considered to have Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS).  Yoga has been shown to be efficacious in the management of PTLDS.

Feasibility of Tele-yoga for Treatment of Lyme Disease

Teleyoga offers great potential to treat Lyme disease patients remotely. At this time, there is very limited research evaluating the acceptibility or efficacy of teleyoga. The current study explores the feasibility of using telehealth to deliver yoga as a supplemental treatment for Lyme disease symptoms, such as chronic musculoskeletal pain. The goal of this study is to modify an existing yoga protocol for musculoskeletal pain and address the technical challenges of at-home yoga.

Participants were provided with all necessary yoga equipment and electronic equipment (loaned Apple iPad) to attend 12 weekly yoga sessions from home. The study will focus on measuring treatment satisfaction, retention, adherence, and provider suggestions.

The Alzheimer's Association leads the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support.

National Institute on Aging, is one of the 27 Institutes and Centers of NIH, leads a broad scientific effort to understand the nature of aging and to extend the healthy, active years of life. NIA is the primary Federal agency supporting and conducting Alzheimer's disease research.

ILADS is a nonprofit, international, multidisciplinary medical society dedicated to the appropriate diagnosis and treatment of Lyme and associated diseases. ILADS promotes understanding of Lyme and associated diseases through research, education and policy. We strongly support physicians, scientists, researchers and other healthcare professionals dedicated to advancing the standard of care for Lyme and associated diseases.