(CNN) – Millions of veterans suffer from often hidden wounds.
This is not your typical military helmet but some new research shows this technology has the potential to save millions of veterans fighting the mental battles that come after war: namely depression and post-traumatic stress.
“Anxiety can look the same but underneath the hood it could be different things in the brain that we can’t see,” said Dawn Perez of LPC, BiofeedbackWORKS.
This cap is covered in sensitive data points, each one gathering information about the brain inside, with the help of conductive gel.
“It’s EEG which is raw waves that your brain produces,” said Perez.
EEGs are nothing new, but now the information gathered from one can be compared with other patients’ scans and the medications that worked for those patients.
The result? Personalized prescriptions based on the brain, something researchers liken almost to targeted advertising.
“These big data efforts are used in many other places, for example a company like Google would look at your previous shopping experience and then match that with a lot of other people’s patterns and find recommendations for you that will come out as eerily appropriate,” said .Dan V. Iosifescu, M.D., M.Sc.
This new technology is being met with some skepticism. Studies by the company that developed the technology, MYND analytics, have faced resistance from within the military,
Even after conducting studies at two military hospitals but the company insists that data from those studies does show that this matching system can shorten risky trial periods that are usually required with new medication.
“Each of these trials takes a long time, if it’s not successful the person is still depressed and at some point they may just give up,” said Iosifescu.
For too many veterans, giving up on treatment might mean substance abuse, violence, or even suicide.
“Frankly, if somebody didn’t ask me if I needed help, I probably wouldn’t be here today,” said Col.(Ret) Kelly Thrasher, USAR.
Colonel Kelly Thrasher deployed with the army 5 times, both to Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I was very much on edge, I had an anger issue. I was waking up with nightmares um and my wife later told me that I had actually grabbed her so I wasn’t in a really good place,” said Thrasher.
Thrasher received counseling from the VA, but was reluctant to try recommended medicine.
“I’d read done a lot of homework about people coming back and starting the regimen of the different drugs and just being a zombie-ish,” said Thrasher.
He says being matched with medicine specific to his brain activity has been key from him.
“It’s almost like kind of going into a stream and this way it sort of gave you a map of how to get through that so you know where to step , you know where you’re not going to fall,” said Thrasher.
Now this technology is still being tested and so far, neither the VA nor the pentagon offer database matching. But, the recent findings do offer some veterans hope.
“People are extraordinarily gratified that there is a clear objective test that is being performed in that in a sense validates their suffering as a real medical problem and not just something that is quote unquote in their head,” said Iosifescu.