Martin C. Evans

New PTSD diagnostic accurately picks suffering soldiers

In Uncategorized on January 22, 2010 at 10:24 am

Scientists studying post traumatic stress disorder have developed a technique that may lead to more accurate diagnosis and more effective treatment of the debilitating psychological malady that hits one in five veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan.

Neuroscientists at the University of Minnesota have developed a technique that spots changes in the brain related to PTSD with greater than 90 percent accuracy. They did so using an imaging device that senses the firing of individual nerves in the brain, according to research published this week in the Journal of Neural Engineering.

The findings may lead to a reduction to the stigma surrounding PTSD by identifying a physical change in the brain of PTSD sufferers, who have often been accused of not being tough enough rather than acknowledged to have suffered actual injury.

The technique might some day help determine whether soldiers are healthy enough to return to the battlefield, and lead to more equitable allocations of Veterans Administration benefits in cases involving PTSD.

The findings were a result of collaboration between a team of scientists led by Apostolos P. Georgopoulo, of the University of Minnesota, and clinicians at a Minneapolis VA hospital. They used an imaging device called a magnetoencephalograph that measures changes in the electrical field inside the brain that occur when neurons fire.

Researchers asked 74 vets who had already been diagnosed with PTSD and 250 “healthy” volunteers to stare at a dot to produce a calm state while magnetic signals were collected.

They were able to detect patterns of miscommunication between neurons in the PTSD patients, and were able to distinguish PTSD victims from “healthy” patients more than 90 percent of the time.

  1., how do you do it?

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