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DOD Endoses Tai Chi and Qigong amidst the Opioid Crisis

September 22, 2017 - In late August, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU), which trains healthcare professionals to serve the Nation through the Department of Defense (DoD), and West Virginia University (WVU) announced their official collaboration to combat the growing Opioids crisis.

As the opioid epidemic continues to have a substantial impact on West Virginia, leaders from WVU reached out to USU's Defense and Veterans Center for Integrative Pain Management (DVCIPM), aware of their efforts to successfully combat opioid misuse in the military over the last several years with the idea that lessons learned in the military would be applicable to their state's current crisis. The DVCIPM, was designated as a DoD Center of Excellence last year.

When announcing the collaboration, the retired Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Eric Schoomaker, who leads the DVCIPM, said: "we now have good evidence for the use of non-pharmacologic, non-opioid treatments, such as yoga, guided imagery, medical massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, Tai Chi, as well as a closely related movement therapy called Qigong, and music therapy. We have pretty good research to endorse their use."

Because these practices might not work the same for each person, he added, it's important to use a variety of these modalities as part of a comprehensive program, tailored to the needs of an individual with chronic pain. Now, thanks to the official collaboration between USU and WVU, DVCIPM will have the opportunity to continue researching the efficacy of various integrative modalities and the pain management tools and resources they've developed.

"We owe it to our patients, and we owe it to practitioners, to only use tools that have good evidence for their use," Schoomaker said.

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