Polytrauma, as the name suggests, is when an individual sustains multiple traumatic injuries, including: hearing loss, loss of limbs, blindness, broken bones, burns… Polytrauma is common among soldiers and those serving our country in the armed forces. It is often the result of injuries from an improvised explosive device or a rocket-propelled grenade. The pain that comes along with this kind of trauma is unimaginable. We’ve all probably had at least one bad injury in our lifetime — a broken bone, a nasty cut, or maybe a severe burn. Now, just imagine all of that at once.
Polytrauma can also lead to other long-term psychological and emotional setbacks, such as feelings of depression and despondence. Traditional forms of therapy — physical and psychological — and medicine are offered as treatment to military servicemen and women, and although it is very extensive, it might not always be enough.
As surprising as what I’m about to say might sound to you, it’s actually been studied, and it works. Meditation — mindfulness meditation, to be specific — can reduce your sensitivity to pain, especially acute pain. Researchers from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine put together a study to find out if meditation could actually help reduce the feeling of pain in their participants. The researchers gathered up 18 young men and women, and had them practice mindfulness meditation for four, 20-minute sessions — none of the participants had any prior meditation training or experience.
The researchers split pain into two categories: pain intensity and pain unpleasantness. They then measured these levels in the participants both before and after the meditation training sessions. By the way, the specific type of meditation exercise they were performing was a focused breathing technique. The technique involves focusing all of your attention on nothing but your breathing — noticing every inhale and exhale. After only four sessions the researchers saw a 40 percent drop in pain intensity, and a 57 percent drop in pain unpleasantness.
You might be thinking, “What if the participants lied about how much pain they felt?” Well, they couldn’t because they were in an MRI — magnetic resonance imaging — machine. All the data the researchers looked at came straight from the MRI.
If you or a brave man or woman you know is suffering from Polytrauma after serving in our armed forces, I encourage you to learn more about meditation and give it a shot. I’m confident it can help you. It certainly can’t hurt.
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Note: Specifically, with regards to medical issues, always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Web site.
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