MU study uses horseback riding to help veterans with PTSD

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Published: Feb. 11, 2018 at 4:44 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 11, 2018 at 5:57 PM CST
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(KFVS) - The University of Missouri has conducted a study to better understand the affect post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has on United States Military Veterans.

To the regular civilian, symptoms of PTSD can be hard to detect. For war veterans, discussing the life-threatening events in their military careers is even harder. In an effort to treat these terrible symptoms of extreme trauma, veterans are being prescribed therapeutic horseback riding (THR).

Therapeutic horseback riding is a leisurely activity that has often been prescribed to military veterans. This therapy is known to improve a rider's self-confidence, sensory sensitivity and most importantly decrease their stress level. Veterans may also gain a sense of trust and friendship from the horses as a result of THR.

In this particular study, 29 Vietnam War Era veterans participated in a six-week THR program. During this period their PTSD symptoms were closely monitored at three and six weeks using a PTSD Checklist-Military Version (PCL-M) assessment.

"Results showed that participants in the program experienced a significant decrease in PTSD scores, almost 67 percent, after just three weeks of THR," said Rebecca Johnson, a professor in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine and the Millsap Professor of Gerontological Nursing in the Sinclair School of Nursing. "After six weeks, participants experienced an 87 percent drop in PTSD scores."

This complementary therapy is a step in the right direction; helping war heroes overcome their mental illness.

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