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Traumatic brain injury survivors healing through yoga

Posted at 6:39 PM, May 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-22 21:39:44-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivors live with an invisible injury, and its effects can be debilitating.

"I was not happy with myself, I was unhealthy, I was seeking all sorts of excitement and danger, I was drinking a whole heck of a lot, very angered, always in pain, migraines, physically and emotionally drained, unhealthy in so many ways," said Jimmy Works, a retired Marine Corps veteran.

While his last deployment was in 2010, Works was only diagnosed with TBI this year despite suffering multiple head injuries in combat.

"It's part of life, it's a new reality," said Works.

Works and other TBI survivors are now finding healing through LoveYourBrain Yoga, an evidence-based program now in dozens of states.

"What's unique about the LoveYourBrain series is it's specifically for survivors of traumatic brain injuries and their caregivers," said Nancine Decherd, a facilitator for the program.

The program helps participants cope with their injuries and also provides a support base:

  • Adapts specific poses to prevent dizziness and headaches
  • Offers similar movements in a similar sequence to support learning and memory
  • Uses soft lighting and soothing music to make the yoga class environment welcoming
  • Incorporates strategies to focus attention and release negative thoughts
  • Builds community through group discussion with empowering TBI-related themes

Kat Blue is another San Diego participant.

“This is a someplace to go, and people are here who understand me or at least are empathetic about what I'm dealing with," said Blue.

LoveYourBrain Yoga was created following the positive results of a pilot study conducted by Dartmouth College.

And a recently published study in Disability and Rehabilitation showed LoveYourBrain Yoga generated many powerful physical, emotional, cognitive, and social benefits.

The six-week program is free to TBI survivors and their caregivers.

Learn more about upcoming sessions in San Diego.