In-SPECT-ing The Brain May Reveal New Treatments for Mental Health Issues
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI), depression, often a side-effect of dealing with TBI, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are more common than ever in today’s world. Keeping up with treating these injuries that often result in mental health issues is a much-studied area of scientific interest.
Recently the benefits of Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT), a scanning technology, also referred to as brain mapping, is being discussed as a useful tool that may help a patient visualize how depression, PTSD, emotional trauma, and anxiety affect the brain. Getting a better understanding of emotional trauma and how it affects each individual has the potential to open the doors to better treatments and methods.
At one time, SPECT scans were used to assess brain tumors, strokes, and seizures. Over time, SPECT was then used to study head trauma, Alzheimer’s disease, and a variety of psychiatric conditions, including anxiety and depression.
“Of particular interest to those suffering from a TBI is that studies are indicating a SPECT scan is one of the most reliable brain mapping tools for spotting the differences between TBI and PTSD. This would be helpful to patients, as PTSD and TBI can have similar symptoms,” explained Austin traumatic brain injury attorney, Brooks Schuelke.
Brain mapping takes raw data from neurons and turns it into a visual display that can show a patient’s brain activity. Put another way, brain mapping is an advanced imaging technique in which the images are enhanced through additional data processing and analysis.
The mapping of various areas that handle cognition, behavior, motor functions, and language gives doctors and patients insight on how the brain functions. Knowing this type of information may help in treating mental health issues. The process is bolstered by neurofeedback, a session that lasts approximately 30 minutes to an hour. Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback.
At its core, the process works by the doctor giving instructions that guide a patient to reduce normal brain activity to allow them to mimic that same process in everyday life. Positive and negative cues are studied, with feedback given to a patient that may allow them to handle and ease symptoms of mental health conditions.
SPECT technology and advancements may also help those who have not responded or responded well to standard biomedical treatment(s) and give a patient the ability of self-regulation.
Patients have electrodes attached to their scalp and perform an activity while parts of the brain are examined by a doctor. Neurofeedback practitioners use this to identify abnormal brain patterns. It is thought that SPECT scans can help diagnose OCD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and frontotemporal dementia.
Although there is still skepticism about this method of treatment, it may have the potential to change the lives of those suffering from TBI.
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