The Veterans PTSD Project

Militarypix-1

My expertise was in neuropsychiatry and genetics when I left academia, but I switched focus almost immediately when I went into practice to become an expert on trauma. There was, and still is, an overwhelming need for services for people with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. It is particularly prevalent among women and veterans. Far too many of our veterans are suffering while waiting long periods for services. I have a vision for streamlining a path towards effective treatment being much more widely available, and affordable.

Project background

  • 7-8% of the US population experiences PTSD at some point in their lives.
  • PTSD is highly treatable, but becomes chronic if not treated.
  • About 8 million adults have PTSD during any given year, which is only a small portion of those who experience trauma.
  • About 10% of women develop PTSD compared with 4% of men.
  • 23% of women in the military have reported sexual assault.
  • About 11-20% of veterans from Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF) have PTSD.
  • About 12% of Gulf War (or Desert Storm) veterans have PTSD.
  • About 15% of Vietnam Veterans were diagnosed with PTSD in the late 1980s.
  • It is estimated that approximately 30% of Vietnam Veterans will develop PTSD in their lifetime

Project description and goals

One of the reasons veterans don’t seek services is fear of stigma. Another is the current use of exposure therapy, which often re-traumatizes them by immersing them into simulated combat experiences. The third reason is bureaucracy that would be overwhelming even if one didn’t have problems. None of these should be an issue standing in the way of care, and I am proposing a solution.

It is based upon significant evidence that PTSD can be remediated with a customized program that includes neurofeedback. Here is testimony from a veteran which shows just how life changing this treatment can be:

Evokeneuroscience is already working with veterans using their FDA-approved device for both diagnostics and treatment. Below is a picture of my brain map session using quantified electroencephalogram (qEEG).

The cap enables us to collect information noninvasively about brain function at rest, during a simple task, and in response to visual and auditory stimuli. A report is generated by sophisticated computer analysis that allows clinicians to compare veterans to databases collected from thousands of individuals with and without symptoms for diagnosis. They can also compare them with previous readings of their own to ascertain improvement. Directly testing brain function speeds up diagnosis, especially in veterans with both PTSD and brain trauma, which is common.

The brain map is used to tailor a neurofeedback protocol to each veterans needs. Neurofeedback uses operant conditioning, and literally rewires one’s brain unconsciously as they focus on a video monitor that changes in response to their brain signals. Dry caps with a Bluetooth connection are more comfortable and can be used more easily than the ones shown above, but they are more expensive.

You can learn more brain mapping and neurofeedback HERE:

If you wish to be a volunteer and help launch this project, or you are a veteran who would like to be updated about this project, and possibly participate, please contact Dr Powell here.