Alpha-Stim is being evaluated as one of the alternative treatments being evaluated at the Richmond, Virgina VAMC.


Marine Cpl. Parker Harbold, 23, said he hopes the NIH researchers speak to him.

Before he began treatment in Richmond, Harbold said that he took 15 pills a day, “a giant sack of nasty freaking opioids, then an opioid patch, then antidepressants and then stool softeners,” all to treat traumatic brain injury and foot and knee pain he suffered after falling off a truck in Afghanistan. “Nothing was helping, the pills made me even more of a mess,” he said.

At Camp Lejeune, he started using an iPod-size alpha-stimulation device. Such devices, which are FDA-approved to treat anxiety, insomnia, depression and pain, emit small amounts of electricity and can be applied with small probes through ear clips. He uses the device at least once a day for an hour and often when he feels a panic attack coming on.

“It’s been so rough trying to get the right help, and I know so many guys who are just addicted to the painkillers and they are suicidal over it,” he said.

What he likes about alpha-stim, he said, is that he is alert afterward rather than “totally drugged and out of it and unable to function.”