Riding the waves to better health: Navy studies the therapeutic value of surfing.

Riding the waves to better health: Navy studies the therapeutic value of surfing.

Article From The Washington Post:

By Tony Perry March 10

In song and prose, surfing has long been celebrated as a way to soothe the mind and invigorate the body. But scientific evidence has been limited.

Now the Navy has embarked on a $1 million research project to determine whether surfing has therapeutic value, especially for military personnel with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or sleep problems.

Researchers say surfing offers great promise as therapy. It is a challenging exercise in an outdoor environment; people surf individually or in groups; military surfers who are reluctant to attend traditional group therapy open up about their common experiences when talking to other surfers on the beach.

See Original Article at WashingtonPost.com

A surfing program by the Los Angeles-based Jimmy Miller Foundation brings instructors and psychologist Kevin Sousa to Camp Pendleton twice a month. Sousa follows service members with physical and mental injuries into the waves to offer surfing instruction and look for signs of emotional problems or distress. When the surfing session is over, he helps lead an informal group discussion on the beach.

“We believe we can heal each other one wave at a time,” said Kris Primacio, manager for ocean therapy at the foundation.

The foundation, along with VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, supported an early study of the therapeutic value of surfing. Led by occupational therapist Carly Rogers, the 2014 study found that surfing, coupled with individual counseling, group therapy, other exercise programs and medication, can help alleviate symptoms of psychological distress.

Jonathan Sherin, director of Los Angeles County’s mental health department, was a physician with VA during the Rogers study.

“Surfing exposes individuals to the awe of nature,” he said. “It’s good for a population that has turned inward from people and the outside world.”

On a recent sunny day, service members, many of them from the Wounded Warrior Battalion, assembled on the beach at Camp Pendleton to listen to instructors from the Jimmy Miller Foundation.

One of the surfers was Sgt. Maj. Brian Fogarty, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. While Fogarty surfed, his PTSD service dog Blade, a 2-year-old boxer, stayed on the beach and watched. Fogar­ty will retire soon and join the PTSD Foundation of America. He plans to sing the praises of surfing.

Meet Jonathan Rodil

Meet Jonathan Rodil

Jonathan credits his choice to become an Occupational Therapist on the JMMF Program. Jonathan has spent years volunteering with us at Camp Pendleton and Manhattan Beach. He has a contagious smile and a peaceful demeanor that puts our Athletes, Volunteers, and Staff at ease instantly. He genuinely shares his stoke for the ocean and surfing with anyone, and we’re so grateful to call this World Changer, a Family Member.

Photo by: Alex Postigo

Ocean Therapy improves attitudes towards self identity for Youth

Ocean Therapy improves attitudes towards self identity for Youth

Last summer, 74 youth participated in a unique Ocean Therapy research study to better understand the benefits of participation in our unique program. In terms of the process of Ocean Therapy, we asked the youth to draw a picture of their experience of the day and we trained volunteers to code the drawings.

We found that youth expressed: experiencing Opportunities for Learning and Fun (95%); a positive attitude about their Self-Identify or Self-Concept (90%); feeling Safe (64%); experienced Social Support and Inclusion (62%).

These findings suggest that the Ocean Therapy program processes are operating in the manner in which they were intended and the goals are being achieved.

In addition to the drawings, we had participants complete a children’s Hope scale before and after participating in Ocean Therapy. Statistical analyses revealed a significant increase in mean Hope scores after participating in Ocean Therapy. These results suggest that Ocean Therapy positively affects children’s Hope.

Dr. Gregor Sarkisian is currently writing an academic article on the findings from this summer and we plan to publish it in the coming months. We will continue the same protocol for 2018 for the youth and will initiating some innovative research with various veterans groups as well.

We all know Ocean Therapy is effective and now we have proof! Stay tuned…

2018 BeneFiesta!

2018 BeneFiesta!

1. A May outdoor extravaganza benefit + fiesta to honor our Wounded Warriors, Veterans, Children and Volunteers whose lives have been forever changed by the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation.
2. Typically includes music, feast, a big splash and more. Must be fun! Beach Chic attire

A Mid-century Dream Home You Won’t Want To Miss
Magic moments of music, art and dining under the stars…and maybe a star or two!

When: Saturday, May 19

Where: The Whitehead Home
1130 Ronda Drive, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

Time: 7:00 pm

 

Click Here to Purchase Tickets

Welcome Kevin Sousa

Welcome Kevin Sousa

Welcome to Kevin’s Clinical Corner. I feel honored and privileged to carry on the work and vision of Dr. Carly Rogers as the new Clinical Director of JMMF.

My hope is that in this section of the newsletter, you will find some exploration of common behaviors and challenges that can appear acutely in the populations that JMMF serves, but that we all experience in some way almost every day.

Whether it is anxiety, fear, worry, stress, guilt, shame, we will look at what the body does, how it holds these emotional states, and what the brain does when it experiences these feelings, in order to gain insight and understanding around our sense of self.

We will also take a look at some common interventions we can use to give ourselves some relief from these often challenging and painful thoughts and experiences. It is important to delve into why we have these feelings so we can work towards developing a different relationship with them, and to ask ourselves what these feelings and behaviors are telling us as they arise.

Thanks for checking into Kevin’s Clinical Corner. I’ll see you back here in April with some thoughts on anxiety and why it is so similar to the feeling of excitement.