PTSD and TBI High Tech Treatments

An earlier post noted that some veterans report poor results from traditional PTSD treatments. New high-tech treatments may be the answer for those veterans who struggle to find ways to heal. Novel treatments for PTSD, TBI and depression include transcranial magnetic stimulation and deep brain stimulation.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

In transcranial magnetic stimulation, electromagnetic coils are placed against the head. The coils emit magnetic pulses that pass through the skull and excite brain cells in targeted areas. Reliable statistics for this kind of PTSD treatment are unavailable, but anecdotal evidence shows a measure of success. Some veterans with PTSD reported that it has been effective. Side effects have been reported too, including headaches, scalp discomfort, and facial muscle twitches.

Deep Brain Stimulation

Deep brain stimulation for PTSD patients involves surgically implanting a device in the patient. That device sends electrical pulses into the PTSD patient’s brain through electrodes. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) plans to advance this kind of technology and has dedicated around $40 million dollars to fund studies according to DARPA’s own website.

Recently DARPA announced funding for a program at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to develop brain implants to help veterans and others who suffer from TBI, memory loss, and depression. Scientists are trying to understand the brain — and the disabilities associated with it like TBI, PTSD, and depression — at the level of the neuron. The director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Center for Bioengineering, Satinderpall Pannu, says “you need to interface with neurons at their level.” That’s what the tiny brain implants are trying to achieve.

Recently Senator Bernie Sanders (Independent, Vermont) framed veterans disability issues as a war problem, not a VA problem.

He pointed out in an interview with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC that the true cost of war includes treating the 200,000 veterans suffering from PTSD. Sanders said

the bottom line here, I would hope that as a country, is that we fully understand the cost of war. And Andrea let me tell you, I think many people do not. We’re not just talking about the thousands of people who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. We’re talking about 200,000 men and women who came home with PTSD and TBI. We’re talking about people who came home without legs, without arms, without hearing, and without eyesight, and if this country stands for anything, what we have got to say is that we are going to provide adequate funding to make sure that every person who is entitled to those healthcare services gets the best healthcare they can and they get it in a timely manner.

Sanders has a point. The cost of high-tech treatment is something owed to service members who sacrificed their well-being to pay a different kind of price for the nation.

If you have questions about VA benefits for PTSD, we welcome you to contact our veterans disability advocate today for a free consultation.

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