In October 2018, I had the opportunity to attend the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) Annual Conference as my professional development for the year. One class I attended was particularly interesting, especially given the population we often advocate for here at Policy Research Associates, Inc. (PRA). Judi Kosterman, Ph.D., from the Brain Treatment Center in Newport Beach, CA presented on the Magnetic Resonance Therapy (MRT) treatment approach. The Brain Treatment Center held a clinical trial focused on treating Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and saw some surprising results. In a study of 21 Veterans with PTSD (16 completed the study), the average PTSD Checklist-Military Version (PCL-M) score dropped from 54.9 to 31.8 after 4 weeks of treatment. Along with a decrease in PTSD-related symptoms, the study participants also reported decreased use of tobacco, alcohol, and pain medications (Taghva et al., 2015). Kosterman noted in the presentation that these results remained consistent when the study participants were re-assessed 1 year later.
Magnetic e-Resonance Therapy (MeRT), as it is coined by the Brain Treatment Center, is a four-step approach to changing physiological abnormalities in the brain. In step one, practitioners conduct quantitative electroencephalogram (q-EEG) and electrocardiogram (EKG) tests that measure brain wave frequencies, heart rate, and brain-heart coherence. In step two, the clinicians use the neurophysiological data abstracted from the q-EEG and EKG tests to develop a customized MRT treatment plan. Step three is the actual MRT administration. A trained technician positions an electromagnetic coil on the patient’s head. The coil produces a magnetic field to induce mild electrical currents in a targeted region of the brain. The technician applies stimulation for 6-8 seconds per minute, for about 30 minutes. The entire appointment usually takes about 45 minutes and is pain-free. At step four, the treatment team will take an additional q-EEG and EKG after about a week of treatment to assess progress and make any necessary modifications (“The MeRTSM Process,” n.d.). The entire therapy regimen takes 4 weeks. Each week, the patient attends treatment for 5 days.
In 2017, H.R. 1162: The No Hero Left Untreated Act was introduced to Congress. “H.R. 1162 would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to carry out a one-year pilot program at no more than two VA medical facilities to provide access to electroencephalogram/electrocardiogram-guided MRT technology to Veterans with PTSD, traumatic brain injury (TBI).” “Section 3 of the bill would require VA to carry out a one-year pilot program at not more than two VA medical facilities to provide access to MRT treatment for up to fifty Veterans with PTSD, TBI, [military sexual trauma], chronic pain, or opiate addiction and to submit a report on the pilot program to the Committees on Veterans Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Senate 90 days after the pilot’s termination” (H. 1162, 2017). The bill passed unanimously through House and is now awaiting a Senate decision. If passed in the Senate, the No Hero Left Untreated Act and MeRT treatment could present a valuable tool for the many Veterans currently struggling with PTSD and co-occurring disorders.
No Hero Left Untreated Act, H. 1162, 115th Cong. (2017).
Taghva, A., Silvetz, R., Ring, A., Kim, K. A., Murphy, K. T., Liu, C. Y., & Jin, Y. (2015). Magnetic Resonance Therapy Improves Clinical Phenotype and EEG Alpha Power in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Trauma Monthly, 20(4). doi:10.5812/traumamon.27360
The MeRTSM Process. (n.d.). BTC uses MeRT treatment for neurorestoration. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.braintreatmentcenter.com