Controversial Neurofeedback Therapy "Reboots the Brains" of Soldiers with PTSD

PTSD is a common if as-yet misunderstood ailment afflicting soldiers who have seen combat. While numerous treatments exist, a cure remains elusive. Neurofeedback, however, has proven to be especially effective. It just hasn't been approved yet.

Neurofeedback works like this:

The treatment... consists of affixing EEG electrodes to the scalp, which can read the electrical output of the patient's brain. While the clinician monitors activity, the patient watches a video whose key elements - like an airplane in flight or flowers in bloom - respond to his or her brain activity. Calm and focus are rewarded with on-screen stimuli, pleasant aromas and even vibrations from a handheld teddy bear.

Practitioners believe that the brain is, essentially, rewiring itself during the treatment, detecting defects in its activity and fixing them in order to perform more optimally. And it appears to be working, surprising some military leaders enough to adopt the technique and purchase the requisite equipment to treat hundreds of afflicted soldiers at military bases and in the field.

However, the therapy has yet to go through a more stringent period of study to evaluate its efficacy. Many doctors hold reasonable doubts about whether or not the soldiers who report feeling "closer to normal" aren't just feeling a big placebo effect. Without any kind of certainty, troops could be returning to combat without being cured.

Still, the results are there and the practice is on the rise. While studies are still waiting to happen, those who've seen benefit from it probably don't care about the unresolved questions. Only that it works. [The Daily, Image Credit: Olga Lyubkina/Shutterstock]