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Surf medicine: Surfing as a therapeutic measure in war multiple trauma

Authors:
  • Fleischmann e col.
Study of medium relevance
Full article

Original label: Surf Medicine: Surfing as a Means of Therapy for Combat-Related Polytrauma

Location: San Diego California USA

Source: J Prosthet Orthot. 2011; 23: 27–29.

Objective: Use of surfing as a rehabilitation therapy for a polytrauma patient due to war events.

Methodology: Case Report

The patient, a 21-year-old US Army active soldier, was the victim of an explosion in southern Baghdad, Iraq. He suffered severe shrapnel injuries after an explosion that extensively burned both lower limbs. In the same explosion, a truck partially rolled over its lower limbs. Patient underwent several surgical procedures

He held several Rehabilitation, Pain Treatment and Exercise Physiology sessions. He used morphine, oxycodone, ultram and gabapentin for pain in his legs, phantom limbs and splinter wounds on his hands. The patient was also examined by the psychology team, who noted that he had brain damage and mild depression. Traditional therapy has improved central abdominal movements and overall muscle strength. After approximately 12 months of treatment, the patient still had problems with gait and balance, depression and pain.

Approximately 1 year after suffering his injury, the patient enrolled in a surf therapy program established in 2008, called NMCSD Surf Clinic. This treatment center provided traumatic local amputees with an environment and the means to engage in physical activities that they enjoyed and that challenged them physically, mentally and emotionally. It included vestibular instruction, water safety, swimming, rowing and riding on the waves and focused on the physical and psychological skills needed for these activities, including balance, muscle strength, aerobic endurance and concentration skills and wave movement time. Discussions between veteran mentors, who were also wounded warriors, local lifeguards and new program participants, took place while waiting for the waves, including partial lower limb amputation.

Result:

After 6 months in this program, engaging once a week for 3 hours per session for 6 months, the patient reported significant progress. Improved balance and decreased use of pain killers. His depression resolved completely and he reported complete relief from his symptoms on the days he surfed.

Conclusion:

The potential of surfing as a multimodal treatment for patients with multiple trauma. Additional research and development is needed to see whether the therapeutic benefit, including increased vestibular balance, pain resolution and behavioral improvement seen in this case, is attributable to the surfing intervention and whether the therapeutic use of new types of balancing devices and prostheses could translate the experience and benefits of surfing to rehabilitation centers not located near the ocean.

SID opinion: 🤙🤙🤙🤙 Despite being a case report (low scientific evidence), it brings an increasingly explored theme of SURF as therapy mainly in coastal cities. It is a low-cost treatment with many benefits. We at SID support this type of therapy, which can be used in addition to polytrauma but also in many psychological and cognitive disorders

Tip SID: Surfing is a sport that fully activates various psychomotor, cognitive and emotional systems of the body. The interaction with water, nature associated with a challenging feeling, makes this sport special.