Veterans to Receive Brain Implants to Treat PTSD?

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In yet another startling revelation, “the Pentagon is planning to implant veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with small electronic sensors that will map their brains. The project will proceed with the help of a $30-million grant provided by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).”

According to a statement released by Massachusetts General Hospital — the creator of the chip — the “deep brain stimulation (DBS) device … will monitor signals across multiple brain structures in real time.”

“Our goal is to take DBS to the next level and create an implantable device to treat disorders like PTSD and TBI. Together with our partners we’re committed to developing this technology, which we hope will be a bold new step toward treating those suffering from these debilitating disorders,” said Dr. Emad Eskandar, director of functional neurosurgery at Massachusetts General Hospital and the project’s principal investigator.

Draper Laboratory, a non-profit research group with experience in the development of “miniaturized smart medical devices,” will partner with Massachusetts General and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in creating the brain implant.  Source:  The New American.

One would hope that DARPA knows what it is doing in partnering with Massachusetts General Hospital and Draper Laboratory to treat PTSD and TBI, but you seldom hear the outcomes of studies conducted by independent contractors.

For instance, where is the data collected by the Department of Defense on at least two studies dating back 7 years on sensors embedded in military-issued helmets?   Did the DoD discover that our military helmets didn’t provide our military personnel the protection they deserved?  While I am not a great believer in conspiracy theories, I find it surprising that sensor data collected for at least 7 years has not been made public.   Is there something the military doesn’t want Veterans and active duty personnel to know?

The American Psychological Association (“APA”) has rightfully concluded “that psychologists should no longer aid the military at Guantánamo Bay and elsewhere – in effect reversing more than a decade of institutional insistence that such participation was responsible and ethical.”  This statement by a former President of the APA was printed by The Guardian and is the fallout of a damning report suggesting that the APA endorsed 9/11 prisoner torture policies that even the CIA rejected.

Outside contractors continue to profit through generous grants provided by the DoD and other government resources.  While SFTT applauds the use of scientific research to study PTSD, it would be useful to know whether Veterans will volunteer to be part of this Massachusetts General Hospital study.  Furthermore, how will the results of these studies be communicated with the general public.

After waiting 7 years to see the results of sensor studies on military helmets, the general public is still waiting for information.

 

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PTSD: Identical Twin Research Study

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“ARE YOU AN IDENTICAL TWIN?

If so, have you or your twin served in a war zone?

Lisa Shin, PhD and colleagues in the Department of Psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) are conducting a study to examine brain activity in individuals with and without post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They seek participants who are identical twins in which one co-twin experienced combat and the other did not. You do not have to have PTSD to participate.

The study takes place in Boston. Travel expenses are covered by the study and participants are paid $500 for their time. Participation is completely voluntary and confidential.

For more information about this important research opportunity, please visit http://www.martinos.org/shinlab and/or call Lindsay Staples at 617-726-8120 or email TwinStudy@nmr.mgh.harvard.edu.

Editor’s Note:  The announcement above was posted on behalf of the Department of Psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).  If you know of anyone with the characteristics described above who might be willing to participate in this study, please contact Lindsay Staples.

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