Recovery from PTSD: A Vietnam Veteran
We have just experienced a remarkably quick recovery from PTSD symptoms in a Vietnam veteran. The case is illustrative of the more rapid pace of recovery that is achievable with the latest neurofeedback techniques that encompass the infra-low range of EEG frequencies. The veteran has had a forty-year history of PTSD, and was rescued from homelessness by the Salvation Army here in Los Angeles. He came to our offices for intensive neurofeedback training through the auspices of the Salvation Army. In exchange for our providing services at no cost, the veteran has allowed us to make his case history available for the benefit of other clinicians.
"To Sue and all staff of the EEG Institute:
The day I left after my last appointment, was very hard. My soldier guy kicked in while I was crying of joy and sorrow inside. I want you all to know, I have done great things for many people and never asked for anything back. The only way I can understand your generosity is by accepting that the universe noticed my good deeds and that I am being helped in turn. I do not know how else to explain my good fortune. My father told me years ago he was certain that someone would help me, you are the ones."
- Veteran and Former PTSD Sufferer
The Elusive Nature of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
by Ronald J. Swatzyna, PhD
The author discloses a personal history of undiagnosed mild traumatic brain injury (MBTI) and identifies a typical course and progression of this condition. He advocates a careful inquiry for possible head injury whenever the clinical history shows an original period of normal functioning, a progression of disturbance over time, multiple diagnoses, and poor response to treatment with medication. He discusses the use of quantitative electroencephalography (QEEG) in assessing possible mild traumatic brain injury, describes typical features of quantitative electroencephalography in mild traumatic brain injury, and cautions about the frequency of false negatives. He provides two case histories showing the progression of disturbing cognitive, personality, and impulse control problems following early head injuries.
The Story of Jason Dunham
Jason Dunham gave his life for his buddies in Iraq, smothering a grenade with his helmet and body. He ended up in a coma, and was essentially brain-dead. Presented with the hopelessness of the situation, Jason's parents gave permission for the removal of life support. They were with him at his bedside at Bethesda Naval Medical Center.
Michael M. Phillips tells the story in the May 29 issue of Parade Magazine, and again in his book, The Gift of Valor, published May 9, 2006.
Our concern at this moment is with the family, who not only have to come to terms with the loss of their son, but they will also have to remember their own involvement in the medical decisions about their son.
Grieving for the loss of a son or daughter shakes a family to its foundations. And the ripples radiate out through the larger family and community, and also through time. In dealing with such trauma, one is largely thrust back upon one's own inner resources. Even the help that is offered by others cannot reach the heart of the problem. Eventually everyone else returns back to their own lives, and the family is left alone with what can never be made to go away - all of the threads that connect the family members to the life that was.
As a bystander, one deeply wishes to soften the blow, but that is not possible. One seeks for rational argument, when there is none. What can be done, however, is to help those in grief to build up their own inner resources of strength to bear the unbearable. Trauma and grief disturb those very processes which one needs to function through this crisis period. It may steep survivors into deep depression. It may disturb their sleep, their thinking, their energy level, and their emotional equilibrium. It can cast its shadow over the family for many years.
Training the brain at that moment offers the best possible hope for restoring a physical state that allows survivors to experience the full dimensions of grief without coming apart themselves. And even if survivors seem to be "handling it well," they can still use the help. Neurofeedback under these circumstances does not abort the grieving process by any means. Rather, it allows survivors to gradually accommodate the loss as a part of their personal and family history, while allowing them to go on with their lives, as they must.
Significantly, neurofeedback reaches beyond the rational dimension that can be appealed to with psychotherapy. It is not counseling that survivors need at this moment nearly as much as they need neurofeedback training. This is not to diminish the value of counseling; rather, it is just a matter of reorienting priorities. Neurofeedback is first aid for the brain when it comes to loss and grief.
- Siegfried Othmer, Ph.D
For more information on Siegfried Othmer please visit www.drothmer.com