Electric Head Patch Helps PTSD Patients

A small electric patch worn on the head while sleeping seems to help people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In the small new study, 12 people who had been suffering from PTSD and depression for an average of 30 years — and were already being treated with psychotherapy, medication or both — wore the patch each night while sleeping, over an eight-week period. The researchers found that the severity of the participants' PTSD decreased by an average of more than 30 percent, and the severity of their depression dropped by an average of more than 50 percent, over the study period.

"Most patients with PTSD do get some benefit from existing treatments, but the great majority still have symptoms and suffer for years from those symptoms," Dr. Andrew Leuchter, senior author of the study and a psychiatrist at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a statement. "This could be a breakthrough for patients who have not been helped adequately by existing treatments."

For the participants in the new study — who were survivors of rape, car accidents, domestic abuse and other traumatic events —the new patch delivered a kind of treatment known as trigeminal nerve stimulation (TNS). Prior research found that TNS can treat people with epilepsy who aren't helped by medication as well as people with depression who aren't helped by therapy, the researchers said. [Bionic Humans: Top 10 Technologies]

While a patient sleeps, a 9-volt battery powers the patch, which sends a low-level electrical current to nerves that run through the forehead. These nerves send electrical signals to parts of the brain, such as the amygdala and the medial prefrontal cortex, which regulate mood, behavior and cognition, and that previous studies found were linked with PTSD.

Fans of science fiction writer Robert Sheckley may be thinking about the Rex Regenerator (Mechanotherapist) from his 1956 story Bad Medicine:

"That, sir, is the Rex Regenerator, built by General Motors. Isn't it handsome? It can go with any decor and opens up into a well-stocked bar. Your friends, family, loved ones need never know--"

"Will it cure a homicidal urge?" Caswell asked. "A strong one?"

"Absolutely. Don't confuse this with the little ten amp neurosis models. This is a hefty, heavy-duty, twenty-five amp machine for a really deep-rooted major condition."

"That's what I've got," said Caswell, with pardonable pride.

"This baby'll jolt it out of you. Big, heavy-duty thrust bearings! Oversize heat absorbers! Completely insulated! Sensitivity range of over--"

"I'll take it," Caswell said. "Right now. I'll pay cash."
(Read more about Sheckley's Rex Regenerator (Mechanotherapist))

Via Fox News.

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