Neurofeedback for PTSD recovery

 

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By Tina Buck, PhdD

In the early 1990s, 2 studies with Vietnam veterans resulted in 100% of subjects experiencing recovery from PTSD. EEG biofeedback, or “neurofeedback” was the primary intervention used. That was more than 30 years ago.

More recently, fMRI brain imaging studies show stabilizing effects of neurofeedback on brain structures associated with PTS(D) after only 30 minutes of neurofeedback training. Non-identified data from 819 subjects using BrainPaint® neurofeedback showed 89% reported their symptoms of PTS(D) were better or resolved after only 20 sessions.

Other studies on head injuries collectively showed that neurofeedback is more effective than behavioral interventions. Neurofeedback is still not often available, so Biobalance Integrated Wellness has a home-based program to help.

What does neurofeedback involve?

  • Electrodes measure brainwave activity (EEG) – no electricity goes into the brain
  • Amplifier reads and sorts the EEG signal
  • Software translates to audio/visual feedback
  • Individualized “protocols” guide the brain to increase and decrease amplitudes of different frequencies
  • After about 30-50 sessions, a training threshold is crossed and the brain can repeat targeted EEG patterns on its own, long term

BrainPaint® neurofeedback software is not a brain exercise game. It is sophisicated brain training for stabilizing neurological imbalances without the need for diagnosis, treatment, or stigma. Biobalance Integrated Wellness makes neurofeedback affordable and simple for home use of “BrainPaint® software.

Protocols used in BrainPaint® are evidence-based and validated in a large study conducted through UCLA. With unlimited access to the system, many home users maximize results with intensive use of the system. The program is designed for individuals who live more than 50 miles from an existing BrainPaint® provider, are self-motivated, and engaged in a support system.

Home services are not covered by insurance. For a veteran testimony see: http://www.ptsd-treatment.info. Contact us at 520-227-4509 / http://www.neurofeedbackhomeuser.com. Follow us at https://www.facebook.com/BisbeeBiobalance and https://twitter.com/BiobalanceNFB.

 

 

TM Helps Veterans for Decades

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By Denise Gerace Ph.D.

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For the last five years, my husband Joseph and I have had the honor and privilege of teaching TM to service personnel and Veterans in Southern Arizona. The changes we have seen have inspired us to do everything we can to make TM available to more and more military people. In this article, we invite you to meet some of our students and hear what they have experienced. But first, some background about the research on TM for Veterans issues.

In 1985 a young doctor, Jim Brooks, at the Denver VA, did a study documenting what happens when Veterans (in this case, Viet-nam era Veterans) learned TM-Transcendental Meditation. TM is a specific and particular meditation technique that is easy to do and quickly effective. Veterans enjoy doing it because it is deeply relaxing. It doesn’t not leave the Veteran alone inside with whatever comes: rather, it lets the Veteran follow a clear set of directions and experience deep refreshing relaxation coupled with inner ease and peace.

Dr. Brooks knew that Veterans enjoyed TM. They enjoyed being able to learn it easily, knowing that they were doing it correctly. And they enjoyed the feeling of relaxation and inner ease. But were they actually getting better? Should the VA include TM in its armory of tools to help heal the invisible wounds of war?

Dr. Brooks randomly assigned Veterans to TM, or to psychotherapy (the VA’s standard treatment), and after 3 months he measured the results. They were striking. He looked at the amount of change that the Veterans in the two treatments had experienced. He found major changes in six areas key to Veteran.

Emotional Numbness: Major improvement with TM, very small improvement with psychotherapy

R.D. is a man in his mid thirties, a Marine Veteran who returned to civilian life over a decade ago. He and the mother of his son have loved one another since high school, but recently she asked him to move out because he was just not emotionally available at home, for her, their son, or their home together. After learning TM, R.D. found himself spontaneously responding to her and their child, He found himself picking up the clutter, fixing little things on the ‘honey, do’ list, noticing how she felt, listening better. She felt that her dear friend and beloved partner was back with her, actually emotionally available to build a family rather than being lost in the inner world of his battle experiences, or his self-medication to deal with that.

Anxiety: Major improvement with TM, tiny positive change with psychotherapy

For years, all through her military service, L.K. wanted to go to college. In fact, to earn the G.I.Bill was a major reason she enlisted. She retired after 8 years and three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and headed for college. But she found that the self-directed routine of college life was a huge contrast with the orderly life in the military. Plus her level of anxiety made completing assignments (especially oral assignments) and taking tests very difficult, sometimes impossible. So she was watching her dream of earning her degree fade away. She learned TM through her college Vet Center and noticed good changes almost immediately. Instead of spending her study time watching TM or surfing the net, she completed her assignments. And she found herself much less anxious about talking, and writing, for her teachers. With her twice daily TM she can feel the stress of the day dissolve, and she is finding that the accumulated stress and PTSD from her military experience is also fading. Her grades are better and her goal of her college degree is back in her sights.

PTSD Scale: Major improvement with TM, very small positive change with psychotherapy

The PTSD scale. What a cold, neutral name for what it measures—intrusive thoughts, nightmares, believing the worst about one-self or others, no confidence in who one is or what one does, the aftermath of significant trauma. H.S. enlisted at 18 and retired after 30 years and multiple deployments. As far as he was concerned, he was ‘fine’, but his PTSD scores said otherwise. His wife and family had adjusted to the changes his service brought, accepting them as part of their service with him. He was distant, taciturn, withdrawn, often lost in his own world. Sometimes his temper flared, often for no reason its target could understand. When he learned TM, he and his family were happy that he had learned something that would be good for his high blood pressure,. They all were thrilled when the shadow of his experiences in war began to recede, returning to them all the genial, happy man of his youth.

Reduced alcohol use: HUGE improvement with TM, very small positive change with psychotherapy

Self-medication with alcohol-part of the right of passage of so many Veterans. A.J. didn’t drink much as a teenager, or even much as a soldier. But when he left the Army he turned to whiskey because a few drinks made the memories go away. It became quite a habit, every evening and later also every day. His Mother began to fear for his life since he drove drunk most of the time. And his mood got darker and darker—she lived in the daily fear that she would come into his room and find that he had taken his life. When A.J. learned TM he felt those memories fade and lose their grip, and as they faded the thirst for whiskey did also. His mother says “Thanks to TM, I have my son back.”

Insomnia: Major improvement with TM, the psychotherapy subjects’ sleep was worse

C.W. is a single mother to very active two year old boy. She is very hardworking, wanting to create the best future for her and her son. But she couldn’t sleep, didn’t sleep. Medications didn’t really help—she wasn’t feeling rested, she couldn’t be that groggy and properly care for her son. Her son was quite difficult, acting out, not sleeping either. She learned TM in order to do better at her work, but within a few days she found that she was sleeping easily. She was going to sleep in a few minutes, sleeping through the night, and awaking refreshed. Her co-workers commented on how much more responsibility she could handle easily. And her son settled down—when she slept, he slept as well, and that good rest let him be a happy, comfortable boy, responsive to his Mother’s guidance.

Depression: Major improvement with TM, very slight improvement with three months of psychotherapy

J.P. served for 20 years active duty and was completing 10 more years in the Reserves when a crisis at work ignited the sleeping trauma from deployment and left her deeply depressed and fearful of even going to work. She decided to learn TM because of the research documenting positive changes for highly stressed workers. Her first TM session was on a Saturday, and on Sunday J.P. reported that she had eaten a big lunch in complete comfort, the first meal she had eaten since the work crisis had thrown her into depression. A few days later she reported that she had driven onto base and not felt her entire body shut down from dread, as she had been experiencing since the crisis. Over the next few weeks her greater emotional availability and energy allowed her to navigate what she needed to do to handle the crisis and clear her name. The depression has not returned.

For more information about TM for Veterans: https://www.davidlynchfoundation.org/military

To learn TM in Tucson and Southern Arizona:

Denise and Joseph Gerace, jgerace@tm.org, 520-881-0110

To learn TM in Phoenix and Scottsdale:

William and Jan Romaine, phoenix@tm.org,

To learn TM in the Tempe-Mesa-Chandler area:

John and Gail Clessler, jclessler@tm.org

To learn TM in the Glendale and northwest Phoenix area, and in Northern Arizona:

Jeff and Kathy Tepper, jtepper@tm.org

 

 

 

 

 

Are You Being Properly Diagnosed At Your VA Hospital?

Brain scan photos by Cerescan. http://www.cerescan.com

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Many of our Healing Arizona Veterans supporters are aware that we have been trying hard to get a major media source to disclose that many combat veterans are often being mis-diagnosed with a PTSD condition and treated with cocktails of drugs when they actually have a TBI from their frequent exposure to IED explosions when on active duty. Above are some current brain scans from a diagnostic equipment manufacturer named CERESCAN. IF our VA hospitals had this type equipment  proper diagnosis could be done and there would be less psychotropic drugs prescribed and proper healing could begin with HBOT therapy. Please share and make more veterans aware

We MUST do everything possible to STOP our veterans from choosing suicide and give them renewed hope  that there is a solution to help them recover their lives. Entire families are affected by a veteran’s suicide needlessly.  Give them HOPE  and they will chose healing over death every time.

MORAL INJURY by Father Nathan Castle

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We need you religious and spiritual leaders to step up your game. There’s not a pill for everything.”

I wasn’t sure why I was attending this conference on the needs of military veterans and their families until those words rumbled through me.

The keynote speaker at the front of the assembly hall was Dr. William Nash, Director of Psychological Health for the U. S Marine Corps. And I’m Father Nathan Castle, OP, a Catholic priest with very little knowledge of military anything. I have worked with young men and women the age of many who are currently deployed during a long career in campus ministry. I believe I’m an expert in healing the hidden wounds of the soul. That day last April, at the opening session of the symposium of the Arizona Coalition for Military Families, I wanted to enlist on the spot in the effort to bring peace to soldiers’ hearts.

Have you heard that phrase before, Moral Injury? Less than a year ago it was new to me; now it’s a new direction in my life’s work. Here’s how the VA introduced the term in 2009:

Moral Injury is disruption in an individual’s confidence and expectations about his or her own moral behavior or others’ capacity to behave in a just and ethical manner… The lasting impact of moral injury in war remains chiefly unaddressed.”

 I’ve also heard it put this way, describing the experience of combat veterans:

You used to believe the world was good. But now you don’t.

You used to believe that you were good. But now you don’t.

You used to believe that God was good. But now you don’t.

You used to believe that your future would be good. But now you don’t.”

 Isn’t this what PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) is all about? I asked that question. Dr. Nash explained that only 15% of those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan get that specific diagnosis. He explained that only a psychiatrist like himself can officially make that diagnosis, and that there are as many as six behaviors which must be evidenced. Many veterans’ suffering doesn’t rise to that level or is not manifest in dissociative breaks with reality that can plague PTSD sufferers. But something is behind the loss of 22 veterans a day to suicide, many of whom were not diagnosed with PTSD.

Some are now speaking of a “soul wound” and a need for “soul repair.” If you think there could be something to this, check out the Soul Repair Center at the Brite Divinity School, part of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. Here’s the link to their website: http://brite.edu/academics/programs/soul-repair/. I’m at work on what I’m calling “The No Place Like Home Project.” My first public event,

“The Spiritual Path to Peaceful Sleep” for survivors of trauma was held on January 4, 2016 at La Mariposa Resort in Tucson. If you’d like to know more about that, email me at ncastle@stanford.edu or check out my websites nathan-castle.com and andtoto.org. I’m planning to attend the Arizona Coalition for Military Families 7th Annual Statewide Symposium in Phoenix, April 20th and 21st. I’d love to meet you there.

 

 

 

Acupuncture: Drug-Free Pain Treatment Option By Kenneth Froehlich

If you have been suffering with a chronic medical condition for many years as I have personally experienced, then take heed.  There is a treatment option that has not been widely publicized or accepted in the U. S.  It has its roots in ancient China and has been practiced for centuries by trained individuals that learned their skills from learned masters.  Many people that have their family roots in the far east have been the beneficiary of this treatment option while growing up.  If you have traveled to the far east either on business or vacation then you may have possibly experienced this treatment option.   I hope to garner enough of your interest to consider this option in your quest to tame that dreaded beast that prevents you from playing a full round of golf, several match’s of tennis, horseback riding or even taking that hiking or whitewater rafting adventure through the Grand Canyon.  I am speaking of …. Acupuncture……

Lets look at a brief history of Acupuncture.  The most reliable data has come from the remains of a mummified individual discovered in the northern Alps in September 1991.  The mummified corpse has been dated to be more than 5,000 years old and was located in the Otztal Alps and the individual was deemed “Otzi”, the Iceman. Research has identified several carbon tattoos (possibly Acupuncture points) on his body including his spine. Additional analysis of his remains indicated he had several age degeneration conditions which mimic modern day bone deformities.

I was diagnosed with two bulging discs (L4-5, L5-S1) with mild to moderate stenosis at the nerve roots  several years ago.  The downside of this condition as you may already be aware of consisted of sciatic nerve pain along my left lower back, left buttock, left thigh, left calf with numbness and tingling at the forth and fifth digits (toes) of my left foot.  Pain and discomfort were my 24-hour constant companions and no matter how I tried to position my body, relief was not to be found.

Several treatment options that were offered by the allopathic medical community (western medicine) consisted of a surgical intervention, physical therapy, a lifestyle change, prescription medications or a combination thereof.  The treatment option that I reluctantly selected consisted of an epidural lumbar injection with dexamethasone (steroid-80mg) twice per year at an interval of six months. This option provided pain relief for approximately three years but as time progressed the period of being pain free diminished to approximately eight months. Due to the potential adverse side effects of extended usage of a long -acting glucocorticoid (steroid) I was placed on prescription pain, anti-inflammatory, and muscle relaxation medications for the remaining 4 months of the year.  This cocktail of prescription medications were not at all to my personal liking and very detrimental to my lifestyle and therefore I conducted my own research on the treatment of bulging discs and sciatica.

I became aware of a medical treatment option offered by several alternative medical practitioners while residing in Cottonwood, Az. The buzz words were known as “complimentary and alternative medicine” or CAM.  I was formally introduced to Acupuncture by the late Kathy Salisbury-Lawrence of Sedona.  After careful review of my lower back pain and related symptoms, a course of Acupuncture treatments were prescribed.  Following the initial 1.5  hour consult, which included a review of my extensive medical history, I received my first Acupuncture treatment which consisted of inserting several pre-sterilized disposable needles placed at designated Acupuncture points.  I was skeptical as to the level of pain that might be felt while the needles were being inserted… trust me… I felt no such pain.  The Acupuncture points are primarily located on meridians or channels on the head, hands, arms, legs, feet, abdomen, chest, and back.  The needles were removed after approximately 20-25 minutes and I was discharged from the clinic with a scheduled follow up appointment the very next week. Within several weeks my dreaded back, leg, and foot pain had been tamed in addition to Permanently shelving my cocktail of prescription medications.

I was so intrigued by the overall success of my Acupuncture treatment, I embarked on a pathway of studying Acupuncture at the Phoenix Institute of Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture in Phoenix, Az. and completed all classroom, internship, and residency requirements and graduated with a Masters Degree in Acupuncture.  I have recently completed a National board review program with the Arizona School of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (Han University of Traditional Medicine) in Tucson.  Upon completing several National board exams, I will receive my license to practice Acupuncture in the near future(2015-16) with the intent of opening an Oriental Health Clinic in Tucson.

In addition to treating disc/sciatica, Acupuncture has been recognized as a treatment option for many conditions to name just a few including allergies, angina, anorexia, anxiety, arthritis, bronchial congestion, carpal tunnel, colds/flu, constipation, depression, diverticulitis, emphysema, facial rejuvenation, fibromyalgia, gout, hemorrhoids, high blood pressure, injuries (sports, auto), insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, pain (back, hips, neck, jaw, joint), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), post surgery recovery, shingles, sinusitis, smoking cessation, stress incontinence, stroke, substance abuse, trigeminal neuralgia, ulcers, and a broad range of wellness issues for women….and many… many more…..

From a historical perspective as a U. S. army veteran, I completed my Basic Combat Training (BCT) at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri (“lost in the woods”) in 1969, Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma in 1969, and Intelligence Training at Ft. Huachuca, Az. in 1970. My overseas deployment was with the 101st Military Intelligence Company, 101st Airborne Division (Ambl), “Screaming Eagles”, to Military Region 1(I-Corps), specifically the A Shau Valley of Thua Thien Province in the Republic of Vietnam during 1970-71.

Questions and comments to Ken Froehlich: kjfroe@yahoo.com

Great Success for TBI & PTSD Recovery at Oklahoma’s Patriot Clinics!

Carol L Henricks, MD

 Public outrage was sparked by mistreatment of veterans at the Phoenix VA Hospital in Phoenix. Problems with medical care of veterans at VA Hospitals were discovered all over the country. We called out for change. We shouted that our military veterans are a priority, and their care is not a place for a budget spending cut. Veterans groups lobbied Congress in Washington, DC to demand change in the system from the top down. But who is walking the walk and actually providing services ?

The Patriot Clinics in Oklahoma are unique: they are a shining example of a real response to providing medical care to help treat our military veterans. Based on the scientific medical research of Dr. Paul Harch, the support of the IHMA (International Hyperbaric Medical Association) and the determination of Dr. William Duncan as well as testimonials by veterans who were successfully treated (Major Ben Richards) the lawmakers in the state of Oklahoma acted. The state Senators and members of the House of Representatives voted unanimously in support of SB1604 (The Oklahoma Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Treatment and Recovery Act), and the governor signed it into law.

Patriot Clinics are focused on providing hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) at no cost to military veterans. Funding for the program is collected through private donations (for example they are doing crowdfunding on Indiegogo). State funds can be recovered through the Veteran Bureau Act of 1921. The clinic is able to treat 5,000 veterans a year with the most successful therapy available.   HBOT initiates brain healing and aids in quelling the symptoms of PTSD.

More good news? We learned yesterday that the great state of Texas has initiated a bill to promote the same treatment availability to veterans in Texas. The grass roots movement is succeeding. We the people are making a difference!

For more information, please see the website www.patriotclinics.com . If you are a veteran interested in treatment, Dr. Paul Harch still has availability in his study in New Orleans, LA: visit his site at www.HBOT.com

Do you have a psychiatric condition or a TBI ? Military TBI: Don’t get misdiagnosed !

  Carol L Henricks

As a neurologist and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) specialist, for many years I evaluated military veterans who were still active duty (as an independent practitioner, not at the VA ) for the purpose of “ruling out” TBI. But that is not what happened. Every single soldier I evaluated from the army base had clinical exam findings, symptoms and complaints as well as MRI – DTI finding consistent with TBI but psychiatric diagnoses had been suggested. What is the problem ?

There seems to be a pervasive belief that if you were not knocked unconscious for some significant period of time that you cannot possibly have suffered a TBI. This is untrue. In fact the majority of the soldiers that I saw had never lost consciousness, but had been exposed to blast after blast after blast. They often recalled the acute onset of neurological symptoms associated with each blast injury.

There is also a belief that if you were not within 150 feet of the blast, that it did not have any effect. Wrong again. If you could feel the explosion, it may have had an impact. Not only the force of the impact but embolization of bubbles may cause injury. And just like in the NFL, more injuries equals worsened brain trauma.

Another misconception is that if you have “psychiatric” symptoms, then you have PTSD or some other psychiatric diagnosis rather than the symptoms representing a consequence of your TBI. Psychiatric symptoms arise from brain dysfunction. Psychiatrists prescribe medicine based on descriptions of emotions and behaviors. The unaddressed question is: what is the biological basis for symptoms that are occurring? Concussion causes generalized brain dysfunction, but often there are trauma associated focal areas of the brain that have experienced significant injury. Focal injury causes localized dysfunction. Damage to the frontal lobe of the brain may cause depression, mood instability, lethargy and poor decision making. Damage to the temporal lobes of the brain may cause seizures, poor memory, auditory and visual hallucinations.

There are important questions to ask yourself to determine if your symptoms actually represent TBI:

  1. When did my symptoms begin ? Symptoms due to TBI are typically evident immediately following the physical injury.
  2. Was I exposed to any blasts, jolts, blows to the head even stateside during training, that may have had an impact ? Many physical traumas create TBI.
  3. Do I have headaches ? Headaches are common with TBI and begin after the physical injury.
  4. Am I dizzy ? Loss of balance and a feeling of unsteadiness is a typical symptom of brain injury.
  5. Am I tired ? Being tired but unable to sleep is a symptom of diffuse brain injury, although it can also be associated with hyper vigilance.
  6. Am I able to read as long as I used to be able to read ? Difficulty with visual fixation ( in order to read a word ) and visual follow ( reading across a line of print ) is a complex integrated function of the brain and is a symptom of diffuse brain injury.
  7. Can I remember how to do routine tasks of my life and my job ? Typically a person with primary PTSD is still able to recall how to perform routine tasks.

PTSD symptoms typically revolve more closely around an emotionally painful event. Some veterans are said to have “ complex PTSD” and it is likely that those veterans have experienced both kinds of trauma. Classic PTSD symptoms include re- experiencing the distressing event over and over again triggering a strong emotional response; being motivated to avoid situations that will trigger event – related memories and being hyper vigilant.

Treatment for TBI is different than treatment for primary PTSD. Make sure you have an accurate diagnosis. If you think you have had a TBI but are being diagnosed with a psychiatric condition: make sure you have a brain SPECT scan or a brain MRI – DTI as part of your evaluation. It is important to be diagnosed with both conditions if both injuries occurred. If both are not treated, true healing will not take place.

* Dr Phillip James recently published his book “Oxygen and the Brain The Journey of our Lifetime”. It is available through Best Publishing Company. His book includes a review of the mechanisms of brain healing with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Carol L Henricks, MD….Behavioral Neurology, Epilepsy,Sleep Disorders, Traumatic Brain Injury  & Hyperbaric Medicine.                     .
NorthStar Neurology PC…7596 N La Cholla Blvd…Tucson AZ 85741 …Office Phone: 520-229-1238  Office FAX: 520-229-1242