By New Year’s Eve, a reverse surge of U.S. troops will be underway, with almost all of those serving in Iraq and 10,000 in Afghanistan coming home. Come September, another 23,000 should return from Afghanistan.
If current trends hold true, at least a third of those 72,000 returning men and women will suffer from the anxiety, rage, depression and nightmares of post-traumatic stress disorder.
A safe medical treatment that’s been in use since 1925 has been successfully applied by Dr. Eugene Lipov (www.ChicagoMedicalInnovations.org) to treat symptoms of PTSD. Called stellate ganglion block (SGB), it involves injecting anesthesia into a cluster of nerves in the patient’s neck. Lipov has received FDA approval for its use in treating PTSD.
The pain management specialist treated a number of war veterans at no charge and found the procedure works in 30 minutes and can last months to years. However, his attempts to obtain research funding from the federal government were denied, despite congressional support.
So Lipov created a non-profit, Chicago Medical Innovations, and wrote Exit Strategy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a book that summarizes current treatment options and the latest developments in PTSD, to raise money for treatments and awareness about this extraordinarily simple solution for a devastating condition.
From the sale of each book, $5 will go to CMI to fund treatments. Injections cost $1,000 each and two are usually required.
So far, about 65 patients have received the block with about 80 percent reporting relief, Lipov said. They include patients treated at his clinic, Advanced Pain Centers in Hoffman Estates, Ill., at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Naval Medical Center San Diego, and other locations.
Men and women with PTSD are often tormented by nightmares that make for sleepless nights. They can become reclusive, afraid to socialize or go out to a restaurant for fear a sudden noise, burst of light, or movement that triggers a vivid, terrifying flashback. Inexplicable eruptions of rage may eventually drive away even the family members who love them most.
“It’s at best a difficult life,” Lipov says.
At worst, it destroys lives. Some veterans turn to substance abuse to ease their pain. Others lash out with inexplicable violence. This fall, a 24-year-old decorated Iraqi war veteran with an unblemished record shot a sheriff’s deputy in Tampa, Fla., three times after getting into a fight with his girlfriend.
Matthew Buendia, whose family says he came home from three tours of duty suffering from PTSD, is being held in solitary confinement, charged with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.
His lawyer issued a statement, which read in part:
“Stop and contemplate what it means to fight a hidden and silent enemy in a distant land and what happens when that same person returns home, sound in body but not sound in mind,” wrote Mark O’Brien. “Our troops deserve more from our government and more from us as a community. They deserve treatment.”
Currently, the accepted VA treatment for PTSD is intensive behavioral therapy, often in conjunction with psychotropic drugs. It’s time-consuming and works only about 50 percent of the time, according to an October report in Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense authorized news outlet.
To request treatment or to donate money for treatments or airline miles for soldiers, visit www.ChicagoMedicalInnovations.org.