I have personal experience of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), as do many combat veterans and others in highly stressful occupations. I was therefore very interested to read that a new treatment for the disorder may be on the way. Gizmodo reports:
The freaky procedure is called stellate-ganglion block (SGB). It's the brainchild of Chicago anesthesiologist Dr. Eugene Lipov. He's touted the method for years, even winning then-Senator Barack Obama's support in 2007, and he's treated dozens of military personnel and veterans at his own clinic.
Until recently, Lipov was largely ignored by Pentagon brass and military doctors. All four of his applications for military research funding were denied. The most recent rejection came just last month.
But someone with the Pentagon's funding review boards forgot to tell the Navy. One of its doctors is now several months into the first-ever military study on SGB - and she tells Danger Room exclusively that the method actually appears effective.
"I think of SGB as being similar to re-starting a computer, only we're talking about circuitry of the nervous system and chemical pathways," says Capt. Anita Hickey. Hickey is the director of Integrative Pain Medicine at the Naval Medical Center San Diego, where she's studied a variety of new approaches to PTSD diagnosis and treatment among military personnel, including brain scans and acupuncture. "We're seeing very positive results."
The study is the latest evidence of the Pentagon's increasing desperation to get a handle on PTSD - a frequently debilitating condition that affects an estimated 250,000 soldiers just from this decade's wars, and thousands more from earlier conflicts. Doctors across the country are getting Pentagon dollars to study ideas as far-out as dog therapy and "digital dreaming" software. Capt. Hickey says that the Navy alone is currently funding 82 different studies on potential PTSD treatments. So far, nothing's proven to be a magic bullet.
. . .
Capt. Hickey said she couldn't divulge specific data from the study. But she did say that the process is double blind and placebo controlled. One group of patients receives a placebo, and neither doctor nor patient knows what was administered. The method is the gold-standard for rigorous medical research because it minimizes any subjective bias and helps distinguish real results from imagined ones.
"Of course, we've got more work ahead of us," Capt. Hickey says. "But our team considers itself very open minded - if something works, it works. And with PTSD, we desperately need something to work."
There's more at the link.
I hope and pray that the experiments and tests currently under way produce positive results. PTSD is a ghastly thing to experience. Its effects go far beyond the individual patient, affecting his family, friends, work performance, and every other aspect of his life. Anything that ameliorates (much less cures) this disorder would be a monumental blessing.