Brain scans for PTSD

FRESNO, Calif.

From world war two to Iraq and Afghanistan when troops like Megan Krause come home, many of their minds are still at war.

"I ended up thinking somehow that there were terrorists chasing me," Sgt. Megan Krause told Action News.

93 year old john Cicha has vivid memories as a p-o-w during world war two.

"You never forget that stuff. Never ... never," John Cicha, POW survivor said.

John still lives with post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychologist Brian Engdahl is heading a two year study on Magnetoencephalography, or MEG to see PTSD.

"That brain pattern is so different that it allows us to identify them from people who don't have PTSD," Brian Engdahl, Ph.D., psychologist at the brain sciences center, VA Medical Center explained.

MEG measures magnetic fields in the brain. It shows patterns of miscommunication that identify PTSD. Another new study testing vets with the imaging system asks them to do different tasks while in an MEG. The brain activity of PTSD vets is then compared to the results of vets without it. The main goal is to define PTSD bio-markers to diagnose it, treat it quickly and track responses to treatment. While Engdahl isn't involved in this particular study, he's excited about MEG's possibilities.

"This would be, we believe, one of the first biological markers of a mental disorder," Dr. Engdahl said.

As for john, he's still dealing with his demons.

"I still have nightmares," John said.

But with this technology, the next generation of heroes might not have to. The yearlong MEG study is collaboration between the VA and researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. The project's also testing the technology on vets with traumatic brain injuries.

Brian Engdahl, PhD
VA Medical Center, Minneapolis

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