ECT as Repetitive Electrical Trauma, ALS & Increased Veterans’ Suicide

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Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

The Brain Injury Association of America recognizes Electrical Injury as a Typical cause of acquired brain injury.

Traumatic brain injury is a subset of acquired brain injury, when the brain injury is caused by an external force.

Electrical shock powerful enough to cause arrhythmia and heart attack (asystole) are recognized as a repetitive Traumatic Brain Injury.

For that reason, Dr. Bennett Omalu cautioned that people who have a history of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) must be viewed through two lenses: repetitive brain injury and repetitive electrical trauma.

According to ECT device manufacturers, ECT can cause injury “general motor dysfunction.”

In 2007, at a Congressional hearing on Gulf War Syndrome, Brigadier General Thomas Mikolajcik, United States Air Force (Ret.), pleaded with the US Congress to study the connection between Electrical Injury/prolonged Electromagnetic exposure and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

Though Brigadier General Thomas Mikolajcik likely was exposed to pulsed high electric fields as a pilot in the Gulf War, the connection between Electrical Injury and subsequent development of ALS has been recognized by the UK Government since their National Radiological Protection Board published their 2001 Report on nonionizing radiation entitled “Electromagnetic Fields and Neurodegenerative diseases.”

At the congressional hearing, the committee proposed to create a registry of people who have ECT, TMS, and vocational/domestic electrical injury to better understand long-term consequences. 15 years later, that registry has not yet been created.

From the hearing:

`The excess mortality from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis seems to be associated with above-average levels of exposure to electromagnetic fields and may be due to repeated episodes with electric shocks.”

`Case-control studies are, however, appropriate for investigating
the aetiology of amyoptrophic lateral sclerosis and, in view of the
rarity of the disease, are generally preferred to cohort studies. A
large-scale case-control study might, therefore, be profitably
undertaken in which special enquiries were made about:

1. employment in electrical occupations, with special reference to
the occurrence of severe electric shocks.

2. medical treatment with electroconvulsive therapy that could be
confirmed from hospital records.

3. exposure to transcranial magnetic stimulation (Walsh and Cowey,
1998), a technique for magnetic induction of neuronal activity in small
brain volumes, which is used both experimentally and clinically.

More work is needed to explore the effects of electromagnetic
fields on neurons and glial cells. In particular, the effects of both
brief explicit shock and prolonged exposure to electromagnetic fields
on intracellular Ca2+, superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity and enzyme
function in neurons deserve particular attention.”

– GULF WAR EXPOSURES (govinfo.gov)

ECT For Veterans Continues without Safety Testing

Worse, the US Veteran’s Health Administration continues to give our Veteran’s a treatment with no FDA documented safety studies or dosing protocols/electrical limits based on safety studies on record!

A higher Suicide Rate for veterans who have ECT

US Veteran’s who receive ECT are 5.7x more likely to die by suicide within two years of ECT than their peers with similar mental health diagnoses who did not receive ECT.

The majority of ECT recipients in the Veteran’s Health system have it while stationed in Puerto Rico.

ECT Device Manufacturers Admit to harms

Electroconvulsive Therapy device manufacturers are presently facing multiple Tort cases for Brain Injury and now list “General motor dysfunction,” “brain injury,” and Death as a serious adverse event (page 3).

Lawsuits Against ECT Device Manufactures are on the Rise

One manufacturer just lost their product liability insurance & filed for bankruptcy, the other is presently involved in a case before the California Supreme Court because ECT recipients believe they should’ve been warned of ALL risks associated with repetitive electrical trauma to the brain.

Aging after repetitive electrical trauma to the brain is quite similar to aging after repetitive Traumatic brain injury caused by other external forces–like football.

This Memorial Day, please consider signing my petition to improve patient safety by preventing

  • Repetitive electrical injury
  • Repetitive brain injury
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Suicide in our Veterans and all other humans exposed to this injury

Your signature will help break barriers to accessing comprehensive brain injury assessment and rehabilitation for those already exposed. Your signature can save a life.

Follow this link to sign and share.

Thank you!

Action Resources

Electrical Injury & ECT Resources

TMS Resources

ALS Resources

Sarah P. Hancock

Sarah Price Hancock, MS, CRC, lived for nearly two decades misdiagnosed with severe mental illness. She was given 116 bilateral ECT treatments and now lives with delayed electrical injury. Sarah holds a Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling and taught for four years in San Diego State University’s Rehabilitation Counseling program. She also hosts The Emotional Self-Reliance Podcast and guest lectures on psychiatric recovery.