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Can MMA Really Treat PTSD?

Meet Todd Vance of San Diego. He is an Army combat veteran and has discovered a unique new therapy to help alleviate the symptoms of PTSD. In 2008, 80% of veterans that were diagnosed with PTSD were also prescribed psychotropic medication. Vance, however, found a better solution: Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). This full-contact, highly athletic sport pulls elements from many different styles of martial arts including wrestling, Muay Thai, and kickboxing. Vance says that it’s better than medication because a healthy body leads to a healthy mind. The team at Vice investigated Vance’s program, aptly named P.O.W.

What’s fascinating, though, is that it works. The question remains: could violence be the cure for violence? In this case, Vance feels that MMA isn’t about violence. It’s about physical activity and community. Vance says:

“But I noticed all this side stuff happening, like, they were hanging out together after class, they were going and getting smoothies instead of going to the bar. And those people were getting jobs. All these positive things were taking place!”

And violence is the last thing he teaches in his P.O.W. classes. During practice, they focus on technique and training and pushing their bodies in a way that provides them the same excitement that many of them were accustomed to while serving overseas.

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Since Vice aired their piece, Vance’s P.O.W. classes have officially become a non-profit organization that aims to help with veteran homelessness, assimilation, and providing a community for veterans suffering from PTSD. His work is an important step in the process of fighting PTSD and bringing helping veterans everywhere. We can’t lose any more veterans to suicide. The Veteran’s Site has created a petition to the Department of Defense to provide more recognition and assistance to suicidal veterans!

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Will S. is a left-handed bibliophile who now owns a cherry-red Schwinn Traveler III. On summer afternoons you can almost see his vermilion shadow passing you at great speeds.