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TNS Patch for PTSD

An estimated 400,000 veterans are getting help for post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD and that number is growing. So far, drugs and psychological counseling are only helping about half of them. But, a device being studied by UCLA and the Greater Los Angeles VA is showing remarkable results in eliminating PTSD symptoms.

Ron Ramirez, Army Veteran, told Ivanhoe, “I got blown up May 3, 2006. I would say that pretty much set off everything.”

Since then, Ron Ramirez has suffered from debilitating PTSD.

“It could be a smell; it could be a sound that helps me remember a bad event. And then I get aggravated fast,” Ramirez explained.

This system turned things around for Ron. He was part of a trigeminal nerve stimulation study at UCLA Semel Institute led by Andrew Leuchter, MD, Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA.

Dr. Leuchter told Ivanhoe, “Veterans who use this for six to eight weeks get substantial relief of their symptoms. They sleep better, they have fewer nightmares, they startle less, their mood and anxiety is much, much better.”

A small electrical current goes from this device to a patch on the forehead, which triggers the trigeminal nerve to send its signals into the brain.

“What we think we’re doing with this technique by applying this patch is resetting the networks that function throughout the brain and relieving a lot of the symptoms,” Dr. Leuchter explained.

Ramirez said, “Probably about the third week, I started to notice that I could actually relax more. Sleep is still a bad issue, but I wasn’t as angry during the daytime.”

He hopes other veterans get a chance to try TNS and see similar improvement.

Now, Dr. Leuchter is running a study to see how well TNS works alongside conventional treatments. TNS is already approved for depression, epilepsy, and ADHD in Europe. He thinks it will be available for PTSD patients in the U.S. in a few years.


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