By: Dr. John Conde DC, DACNB Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that is characterized by flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety as well as uncomfortable thoughts about the event. Examples include life-threatening events such as combat, a motor vehicle accident, a natural disaster, or sexual assault. It is completely normal to feel on edge, have upsetting memories, or have trouble sleeping after the event. However, if the symptoms persist for more than a few months the condition is considered pathological.
Symptoms associated with PTSD may start within one month of the event however it is not uncommon to see an expression up to one year later. These symptoms are grouped into four categories: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Intrusive memories are characterized as having recurrent and unwanted memories, flashbacks, upsetting dreams, and severe emotional distress. Avoidance is exhibited by trying to avoid thinking or talking about the event as well as people and places. Negative changes in thinking and mood include generalized negative thoughts, difficulty with memory, difficulty maintaining relationships, and lack of interest in activities. Lastly changes in physical and emotional reactions are expressed as being easily startled, always being on guard, insomnia, trouble with concentration, and irritability and anger. If the PTSD was related to some kind of an impact such as combat blast, motor vehicle accident, or natural disaster symptoms may also include dizziness, disequilibrium, and headache due to the involvement of the deep more midline regions of the brain.
A groundbreaking study in the journal Frontiers in Public Health reveals very positive outcomes utilizing novel and effective brain-based and vestibular (inner ear) rehabilitation for PTSD especially when involving physical trauma. The initial hypothesis was that the brain-based treatments and vestibular (inner ear) rehabilitation utilized for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) would also be effective for PTSD. This result was reached because of the similarities in clinical features between CTE, most notably discussed as of late in professional football players, and trauma related traumatic brain injury leading to PTSD. The conclusion supported the hypothesis in that the researchers found statistically significant improvements in the participants in the study with the brain-based and vestibular (inner ear) rehabilitation.
These specialized treatments for PTSD involve the concepts of neuroplasticity. This concept states that both the brain and nervous system are moldable and modifiable according to the stimulus provided at the time. It is clinically and empirically documented that with trauma induced PTSD, functional deficits are noted to be primarily more centrally located in the brain in areas involved with balance, concentration, mood, and memory. The treatments conducted in the study involve activities such as specific types of eye movements, balance activities, timing exercises, coordination exercises, feedback exercises using lasers, and cross midline exercises. These therapies are aimed to improve the deficient regions in the brain and are usually performed by a functional neurologist that specializes in brain-based rehabilitation and vestibular rehabilitation.
Dr. John Conde is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist, one of only one thousand in the country. He holds diplomate status through the American Chiropractic Neurology Board. He provides specialized care for difficult cases of back neck pain, numbness-tingling, vertigo-dizziness balance disorders, fibromyalgia, migraines, AD/HD, autism, and dyslexia. His office is located at the Atlantic Grove in Delray Beach, FL and can be reached at 561-330-6096, firstname.lastname@example.org, and at www.thecondecenter.com