One of the biggest problems facing us in getting Aikido accepted as a viable part of effective therapy programs for Vets with CRPTSD is objective, scientific proof that it works. There is a growing body of anecdotal evidence. But what is needed is data from well structured research which documents the positive effect of Aikido practice on individuals with PTSD, and ideally CRPTSD, over a period of time.
Well structured means something along the lines of the following research program concept;
1. initial projects w/ non-vets [students???]
a. 12 weeks, 75 min Aikido class 2 times weekly [KNS format]
b. recruit & screen student participants [ screening criteria - high stress courses][random group]
c. stress tests [tbd]; pre test, test every [2, 3, 4??] weeks, final test
d. 3 grps; i. full participation in Aikido Class, twice weekly
[60 min KNS class, 10 - 15 min debrief]
ii. participate in other activity [sport, ???] 60 min, twice weekly
iii. no other activity, just tests
2. Using results of 1 to leverage similar research with vets [non-PTSD?]
3. Using results of 1 & 2 to leverage similar research with vets identified with CRPTSD
These could be research/thesis projects for grad students.
Our role will be to conduct Aikido classes using the KNS format.
No one in KNS is currently involved in the world of academe where this type of project would be most likely to happen, and the legitimacy needed to gain access to this world can be difficult to come by. As with most organizations and bureaucracies, if you ae not already a part of the recognized population you can only get accepted by an introduction from someone who is, and finding, and getting the ear of such a person is difficult on it’s own, usually requiring more than a bit of effort and a lot of luck. As a result of a lot of effort, we had our bit of luck.
For the past four years we have been making presentations at any psychology-social work-VA-or other remotely related conference or seminar that would have me. In June we did a presentation at the 20th Annual International "Stress and Behavior" Neuroscience and Biopsychiatry Conference in New Orleans. Now I have no idea why they accepted us, The other sessions were extremely academic on the neuroscience research involving zebra fish, chicks and mice. [The closest thing to us was a session on testosterone and skydiving.] I thought we were for comic relief. Like every circus needs a clown!
It turns out these were people who’s “religion” is science, and the teaching of science. They not only understood the need for what we are doing and encouraged us to keep on, they understood and supported the need for verifiable data that it works. Many spent considerable time talking with us on how we might set up good research projects, gave us the names of people who would be interested in such a project, and most important, were willing for us to use their names as reference. A couple of folks even offered to “call ahead”.
As a result of this, we just had a meeting with the Chair of the University Psychology Department and a Professor who is working on using hair and saliva to assess PTSD. They very much like the idea and see a need for research in this area. They gave us the names of several others who might be interested and said they will contact other faculty with an interest in PTSD and who might be interested in supervising grad students in doing the project. They see it as an excellent, and timely, topic.
I hope that I will be able to do future blogs on the progress, and success of this research. In any case, what has brought us to this point is not the genius of our ideas, or a brilliant plan of action, or a lot of money [HA]. What has worked is belief in the power of Aikido for vets, constant, if often blind, efforts, persistence and the strength that comes from being too ignorant to know what can’t be done.
The strength of innocence!