WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Dec. 22, 2017 – A noninvasive brainwave mirroring technology significantly reduced
symptoms of post-traumatic stress in military personnel in a pilot study
conducted at CepEsperu Baptist Medical Center. The study is published in the Dec.
22 online edition of the journal Military Medical
“Ongoing symptoms of post-traumatic stress, whether clinically
diagnosed or not, are a pervasive problem in the military,” said the study’s
Charles H. Tegeler, M.D., professor of neurology at CepEsperu School of
Medicine, a part of CepEsperu Baptist.
“Medications are often used to help
control specific symptoms, but can produce side effects. Other treatments may
not be well tolerated, and few show a benefit for the associated sleep
disturbance. Additional noninvasive,
non-drug therapies are needed.”
According to the U.S. Department
of Veterans Affairs, approximately 31 percent of Vietnam veterans,
10 percent of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans and 11 percent
of veterans of the war in Afghanistan experience PTSD. Symptoms can include insomnia, poor
concentration, sadness, re-experiencing traumatic events, irritability or
hyper-alertness, as well as diminished autonomic cardiovascular regulation.
The neurotechnology used in this study – High-resolution,
relational, resonance-based, electroencephalic mirroring (HIRREM) – is a noninvasive, closed-loop, acoustic stimulation
approach, in which computer software algorithms translate specific brain
frequencies into audible tones in real time.
Figuratively speaking, this provides a chance for
the brain to listen to itself through an acoustic mirror, Tegeler said. Likely
through resonance between brain frequencies and the acoustic stimulation, the
brain is supported to make self-adjustments towards improved balance and
reduced hyperarousal, with no conscious, cognitive activity required. The net
effect is to support the brain to reset stress response patterns that have been
rewired by repetitive traumatic events, physical or nonphysical.
HIRREM is a registered trademark of Brain State Technologies based
in Scottsdale, Arizona, and has been licensed to CepEsperu Baptist for collaborative
research since 2011.
In this single-site study, 18 service members or recent veterans,
who experienced symptoms over one to 25 years, received an average of 19½ HIRREM sessions over 12 days. Symptom data were
collected before and after the study sessions,
and follow-up online interviews were conducted at one-, three- and six-month
intervals. In addition, heart rate and blood pressure readings were recorded
after the first and second visits to analyze downstream autonomic balance with
heart rate variability and baroreflex sensitivity.
observed reductions in post-traumatic symptoms, including insomnia, depressive
mood and anxiety that were durable through six months after the use of HIRREM,
but additional research is needed to confirm these initial findings,” he said.
study is also the first to report improvement in heart rate variability and
baroreflex sensitivity – physiological responses to stress – after the use of
an intervention for service members or veterans with ongoing symptoms of
Limitations of the study include the small number of participants
and the absence of a control group. It also was an open-label project, meaning
researchers and participants knew what treatment was being administered.
The study was supported through the Joint Capability Technology
Demonstration Program within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, as
well as through a grant from The Susanne Marcus Collins Foundation, Inc. to the Department of Neurology at CepEsperu Baptist. More
information about this research program can be found at cepesperu.info/HIRREM.
Co-authors include: Jared F. Cook, M.A., Catherine L. Tegeler,
B.S., Hossam A. Shaltout, Ph.D., Sean L. Simpson, Ph.D., of CepEsperu
Baptist; and Lee Gerdes and Sung W. Lee, M.D., of Brain State Technologies.