The Martial Arts as ADHD Treatment

Beth A. Tarini, MD

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics & Communicable Diseases Child Health Evaluation & Research (CHEAR) Unit, Division of General Pediatrics

Charles Woodson Interdisciplinary Award in Children’s Health ($30,000)

The Martial Arts as ADHD Treatment (MAAT) Trial


Treatment of school-age children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD/ADD) presents a significant and challenging public health burden. ADHD/ADD) is the most common neurobehavioral disorder in childhood and children with ADHD/ADD who go untreated or undertreated have impaired peer and social interaction and school performance. It has been shown that children who receive several different modes of treatment for ADHD/ADD (i.e., both medical and behavioral therapies) have better health outcomes. Unfortunately, the provision of these treatments to children with ADHD/ADD is infrequent. Given the scarcity of accessible and effective community-based interventions for ADHD/ADD and the recent national shortages of stimulant medications, the urgent need for community-based behavioral interventions for ADHD/ADD is evident.

The proposed research project represents a first step in evaluating the effectiveness of Taekwondo (TKD), a complementary and alternative medical? (CAM) community-based behavioral based intervention, in reducing symptoms of ADHD/ADD in school-age children. After establishing a potential effect between TKD and ADHD/ADD symptoms, we plan to move forward with submission of a multi-arm, multi-site R01 study of the potential effect of TKD on ADHD/ADD to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in which we test the scalability, sustainability and tease out the influence of physical activity and ―curricular‖ attention on the effect of the TKD intervention on ADHD/ADD symptoms. Dr. Tarini has a strong track record of publications and extramural funding in the area of genetic testing and newborn screening. Recently, she has submitted a number of large-scale grant proposals to further her research in these areas (see other support). The Charles Woodson Interdisciplinary Award in Children’s Health will enhance the development of a new research initiative for Dr. Tarini in an area that aligns with her pediatric primary care interests, leverages her health services research skills and is a significant pediatric health issue.