High-intensity sports for posttraumatic stress disorder and depression: feasibility study of ocean therapy with veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom

Am J Occup Ther. Jul-Aug 2014;68(4):395-404. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2014.011221.

Abstract

In this study, we conducted a pretest-posttest investigation of a sports-oriented occupational therapy intervention using surfing in an experiential, skills-based program to support veterans with symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in their transition to civilian life. The purpose of this feasibility study was to evaluate the intervention for attendance rates and retention in the program provided in 5 sessions over 5 wk. Fourteen veterans from a specialty postdeployment clinic at a Veterans Affairs hospital were enrolled; 11 completed the study, and 10 attended ≥3 sessions. Participants reported clinically meaningful improvement in PTSD symptom severity (PTSD Checklist-Military Version, Wilcoxon signed rank Z = 2.5, p = .01) and in depressive symptoms (Major Depression Inventory, Wilcoxon signed rank Z = 2.05, p = .04). The results of this small, uncontrolled study suggest that a sports-oriented occupational therapy intervention has potential as a feasible adjunct intervention for veterans seeking mental health treatment for symptoms of PTSD.

MeSH terms

  • Afghan Campaign 2001-*
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011*
  • Male
  • Occupational Therapy / methods*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Sports*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Veterans / psychology*
  • Young Adult