The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder may disrupt daily life and can linger for decades. Flashbacks can interfere with work, restless nights may mean fatigue throughout the workday, and crowds or certain sounds may prompt heightened vigilance. Treatment for PTSD usually involves a number of approaches for affected service members.
One treatment used with some success is CES or cranial electrotherapy stimulation. It works by turning on and off certain parts of the brain with a micro-electrical current. The devices can cost between $500 and $1,500 and they look like small music players with attached headphones.
While CES has been used for some time and it is “moderately widespread” throughout the military, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing whether to change the classification of the medical devices. A change in classification could take the devices off the market until costly additional testing can be completed.
CES is an alternative to drugs and can help with pain management. According to Stars and Stripes, CES is a primary component of PTSD treatment in a Warrior Combat Stress Reset program at the Darnall Army Medical Center in Fort Hood, Texas.
The therapy is helpful to suppress hyper-arousal and improve sleep. CES can also treat pain, headaches and chronic joint pains.
The FDA classifies medical devices and recently went back to review devices that were grandfathered without wide testing. In their review, they recommended reclassifying CES devices in a different category that requires many trials before the agency grants market approval.
There have been CES studies completed in the past, but the FDA found some of the past studies flawed.
Several groups have challenged the FDA’s action. While it is currently unclear if CES devices will remain available, if you are facing debilitating PTSD symptoms, you should contact a veterans’ disability attorney to discuss if you might qualify for VA compensation.
Source: Stars and Stripes, “Promising PTSD treatment faces hurdles,” Wyatt Olson, Aug. 19, 2012.
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