Head & Brain Injury Advice and Resources


Help with PTSD after Brain Injury

Some people who sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) also suffer PTSD. Although it used to be believed that only conscious memory of trauma could cause PTSD, it is now clear that unremembered trauma can cause it. For example many war veterans who remember riding in a Humvee and then being rescued after a roadside bomb exploded (but who do not remember the explosion) have PTSD.

Current treatments for PTSD include individual and group psychotherapy, EMDR, and medications for anxiety/depression. Now a new possibility exists according to Michael T. Alkire, M.D., staff anesthesiologist at the Long Beach VA Healthcare System in California. Dr Alkire did a study on 12 patients with PTSD using a stellate ganglion block (SGB), a procedure in which a small amount of anesthetic is injected into a nerve junction between C7 and T1 in the spine. Although the SGB had only been used to treat regional pain syndromes in the past, Dr. Alkire was curious if it might help PTSD patients. What he found was very encouraging, which was that 75% of the patients demonstrated significant reduction of symptoms for 3 months with gradual fading of relief between months 4-6. If done by a trained anesthesiologist these injections are safe so they could be repeated.