How Can Spirituality and Alternative Medicine Help in Treating Patients with TBI?

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[Dr. Heechin Chae] One area that I really try to investigate is "Is a person spiritual?" Because if the person is spiritual, that's one area that I can really tap into. Whatever their belief system is, their religion, belief system, spirituality, I tap into that. This is probably an area that some of them actually have developed really nicely. Spirituality is a big part of their lives. Then I say, "Hey, we can't ignore this. We've really got to tap into this." Some of my patients, they really go back to that spirituality that they used to practice but they stopped due to their illness and injuries. "Hey, doc, I'm so glad that you're telling me to pray more, because I stopped doing it." A lot of people say, "I lost faith in God, because I don't get better, and I became bitter," or "My battle buddies died, so I cannot even talk to God" or something. That's when I bring in chaplains or their pastors. Usually their pastor is better, or at least people they can trust. Have them work on that. Go work on their meditation and prayer and things like that, because that's a huge part of their lives, and that's an area that we can tap into. If they don't have spirituality, we still talk about, okay, let's go do certain activities that make you relax, and yoga is a big thing these days. Tai chi is another huge martial arts thing. I didn't know this, but a lot of Marines like tai chi, because yoga was a little bit too much, and a lot of them didn't like yoga. But tai chi is like—I call it martial arts, and they get more interested. It's, again, non-impactful, relaxing activities that you can do every day at home. Actually, you can even get videos these days and learn yourself. Those are the things that I tap into.
Posted on BrainLine September 10, 2013. Reviewed July 25, 2018.

About the author: Heechin Chae, MD

Heechin Chae, MD was appointed site director of DVBIC at Fort Belvoir and chief of the Traumatic Brain Injury Department at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in 2011. He will become the director of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence satellite at Fort Belvoir in 2013.

Heechin Chae

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Lara Collins, and Ashley Gilleland, BrainLine.