By Debbie Gregory.
The Pentagon is funding a treatment study that could be a life-saver for those suffering from PTSD.
The treatment utilizes an injection of a local anesthetic next to a bundle of nerves in the neck. So far, it has eased post-traumatic stress symptoms in some patients in as little as 30 minutes with dramatic, lasting results.
The stellate ganglion block could revolutionize the way PTSD is viewed and treated, according to doctors familiar with the experimental procedure.
“It has the potential to be a huge game changer for many, many affected people with PTSD, whether from combat, sexual assault or other trauma,” said Col. James Lynch, command surgeon for U.S. Special Operations Command Africa in Stuttgart.
The block is offered as treatment for PTSD at a handful of Army hospitals, including Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) in Germany, Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, N.C., and Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, but still lacks clinical evidence of success.
The Pentagon study could change that.
RTI International, a research institute in Raleigh, N.C., received a $2 million grant from the U.S. Defense Department to conduct the trial.
Enrollment for the study began about five months ago. Researchers are hoping to get at least 240 active-duty military volunteers by the time the study concludes next year in November.
The study is open to active-duty servicemembers who have been diagnosed with PTSD or think they might have PTSD. The source of PTSD can be any traumatic experience, not just combat.
In an effort to increase enrollment, the study was recently opened to servicemembers being treated for psychological or behavioral health issues, LRMC officials said. Volunteers can receive up to $115 for the time they spend participating in the study.
Volunteers receive two injections, two weeks apart. One in three receive a placebo of saline solution instead of the active treatment. The injection takes 10-15 minutes.
For more information, visit sgbstudy.rti.org or call Russ Peeler, Study Site Coordinator at 800 334-8571, ext. 28359.