Zap Away PTSD and Autism? Hope for veterans?

This PTSD wounded warrior and son is helped by interaction with horses.

This PTSD wounded warrior and son is helped by interaction with horses.

I am amazed how many non-drug treatments are being studied for various human ills. I wrote a blog on pain management via use of electricity. Now experiments with magnetic waves have had fantastic results with veterans suffering from PTSD and cases of autism.

One veteran could not handle the memory of not being able to save his best friend from nearly being burned to death in Iraq. His flashbacks, panic attacks, and resultant booze benders made his life unbearable. Now he can manage the painful memory, not letting it dominate his life. Scores of other veterans have experienced similar results with wives saying they got their husbands back.

I was impressed with a mother who described her first real conversation with her 14-year-old autistic son. I can’t imagine what that would be like. There is a video in the article of a young boy with demonstrated autistic behavior changing over nine months to a normal, bright young boy.

Scores have been treated with high success rates. The 30-minute procedure is painless and involves sitting in a chair as if under a hair dryer but instead headgear emits magnetic waves. Magnetic Resonance Therapy pulses energy into the cortex of the brain. Veterans call it brain zapping and describe it as creating a slight tickle.

Despite these glowing results, researchers are cautious. Good scientists are naturally cautious at positive results in early trials, but I found the level of caution puzzling. The treatment, Magnetic Resonance Therapy, is expensive compared to drugs, and there is likely some concern over limited dollars to spend on treatment for the large number of people who suffer from PTSD and autism. Certainly, interaction with animals is far cheaper and easier when it works.

It is true the results are difficult to scientifically measure. I guess “I can sleep, I feel myself again,” normal behavior, etc. can’t be assigned a number. While there are visible differences between normal brains and autistic brains or brains of those suffering from depression, brain scans are expensive and one can’t do a brain scan as often as blood is drawn.

The article mentions nothing about how MRT works. If there is little understanding of the reason for its success, it would be natural for scientists to be uncomfortable. I’m clearly speculating.

Diagnosis of PTSD involves a questionnaire rather than a litmus test. Diagnosing Autism and Asperger’s is complicated. We speak of a spectrum. Compare that with tests for cancer. I wonder if this partly accounts for scientists not uncorking champagne over these seemingly exciting results.

Adapted from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/brain-zapping-veterans-say-experimental-ptsd-treatment-has-changed-their-lives

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