Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Pilot Study of Two Military Veterans

Alfred G. Bracciano, Wen-Pin Chang, Stephanie Kokesh, Abe Martinez, Melissa Meier, Kathleen Moore

Abstract


This case study investigated the effects of cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) on the prevalence and intensity of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and selfperceived improvement of performance and satisfaction in daily activities in war veterans. Two male Caucasian veterans (ages 54 and 38) diagnosed with PTSD participated in these case studies with a pretest–posttest design. The Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM) and the PTSD Symptom Scale–Interview (PSS-I) were administered before and after the 4-week CES treatment. The participants self-administered the 4-week CES treatment protocol using Alpha-Stim SCS CES device in their home for 20 to 60 min a day, 3 to 5 days a week with a  comfortable, self-selected, current level between 100 and 500 microamperes. They were asked to document the settings and responses in a daily treatment log. Through visual trend analysis and change scores, the results revealed daily PTSD symptoms decreased in frequency and severity for both participants from PSSI-I and daily treatment log. Self-perceived efficacy of performance and satisfaction as measured by the COPM also improved in the 54-year-old participant as his change scores (performance: þ5.4; satisfaction: þ7.9) were over the clinical significance of 2 points of COPM. Both participants reported a decrease in PTSD symptoms and an overall improvement in self-perceived occupational performance after a trial of CES. Findings from this study suggest that future research could contribute to the role of occupational therapists using CES in the treatment of veterans with PTSD. This preliminary study, if confirmed, indicates that CES could provide occupational therapists with a safe and effective way to reduce the symptom burden of PTSD while facilitating occupational performance for a rapidly increasing population of war veterans.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10874208.2012.650100

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