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Researchers Develop Non-Invasive Electric Patch To Treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

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January 29
7:34 AM 2016

People suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) could be treated by attaching a small non-invasive electric patch on their forehand, reports a study conducted by researchers at University of California, Los Angeles. As we say PTSD, it is common among people that had experienced tragic and painful events in life.

Traumatic events like harassment, abuse, war and accidents affect people emotionally and are difficult to be treated by drugs. Individuals with PTSD often experience anxiety, nightmares and flashbacks that don't fade away with time.

According to the study published in the journal "Neuromodulation: Technology at the Neural Interface," the researchers have developed an electric patch to treat the symptom of PTSD. When this non-invasive patch is attached on to the patient's forehead, the electric stimulus surge the brain to treat the symptoms of the disorder, according to Popular Science.

"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," said Dr Andrew Leuchter, the study's senior author, a UCLA professor of psychiatry and director of the neuromodulation division at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, noted Eurekalert. "This could be a breakthrough for patients who have not been helped adequately by existing treatments," he added.

The electric patch connected to 9-volt battery generates electric currents that pass to the trigeminal nerve through the forehead. The trigeminal nerve, the largest nerve in the brain that connects many parts of the brain, also passes through the nucleus tractus solitaries.

The nucleus tractus solitaries that are found in the brain stem is responsible for integrating information from different part of the brain, also integrate information from PTSD patients regardless of the abnormal activities. The trigeminal nerve stimulation (TNS) technique that targets nucleus tractus solitaries, aids in the release of painkiller compounds from the brain by stimulating neuron activity in transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and prefrontal cortex.

The treatment is most effective in patients that are affected extensively by PTSD. "We're talking about patients for whom illness had almost become a way of life," said Leuchter, reported Medical Xpress. "Yet they were coming in and saying, 'For the first time in years I slept through the night,' or 'My nightmares are gone.' The effect was extraordinarily powerful."

In the study that involved 12 patients suffering from PTSD, 30 percent reduction in the symptoms was observed as a result of the electric patch treatment, noted the researchers. While many individuals had a better quality of life after the treatment, few had gotten rid of the symptoms completely.

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