New Electrical Patch Offers Relief for Sufferers of PTSD

  • Jan 17th, 2016
  • Guy Paterson

A new application of existing technology has researchers at UCLA buzzing after it began to show great effects on experiment participants suffering from PTSD.

PTSD, or Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder, is a re-wiring of the brain that occurs after severely traumatic events and causes, among other maladies, hypervigilance and paranoia for years after the trauma in question. It affects 8 million Americans, most notably active military personnel, among whom the condition is suffered by 17 out of 100 people, and veterans, who, returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, develop the condition in 30 out of 100 cases. The disease is also known for affecting women at a greater rate than men.

The patients in this particular study were already long term sufferers of the condition, with the average length of time suffering being to the tune of 30 years. The traumas in question were varied, from warfare to sexual assault to car accidents to test the efficacy of the treatment on as wide a spectrum of post-traumatic life as possible.

The treatment used in the experiment is known as external trigeminal nerve stimulation, or eTNS. It relies on passing power from a 9 volt battery to a patch adhered to the forehead of the patient, allowing electric impulses to be directed to the cerebrum in areas that control mood, behaviour, and thought. Most notably, the treatment has a profound effect on the amygdala, media prefrontal cortex, and the autonomic nervous system, all of which are abnormal in sufferers of PTSD.

The effects of the treatment were very positive. With symptoms of PTSD being reduced by 30% and depression linked to the condition reduced by 50%, it allowed many sufferers to sleep through the night for the first time in years, which was made especially relieving to them because they had been largely un-helped by other methods of treatment.

From this point researchers hope to take the treatment to another phase of experimentation, using 74 military veterans as test subjects.


Guy Paterson

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