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Volume 43 Number 4, July/August 2006
Pages 461 — 474

Abstract - Using cranial electrotherapy stimulation to treat pain associated with spinal cord injury

Gabriel Tan, PhD, ABPP;1-2* Diana H. Rintala, PhD;1-2 John I. Thornby, PhD;1 June Yang, MD;1-2 Walter Wade, MD;1-2 Christine Vasilev, BS1

1Michael E. DeBakey Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Houston, TX; 2Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
Abstract — Treatments for chronic pain in persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) have been less than effective. Cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES), a noninvasive technique that delivers a microcurrent to the brain via ear clip electrodes, has been shown to effectively treat several neurological and psychiatric disorders. The present study examined the effects of daily 1-hour active CES or sham CES treatment (randomly assigned) for 21 days on pain intensity and interference with activities in 38 males with SCI. The active CES group (n = 18) reported significantly decreased daily pain intensity compared with the sham CES group (n = 20) (mean change: active CES = -0.73, sham CES = -0.08; p = 0.03). Additionally, the active CES group reported significantly decreased pain interference (-14.6 pre- vs postintervention, p = 0.004) in contrast to the nonsignificant decrease in the sham CES group (-4.7 pre- vs postintervention, p = 0.24). These results suggest that CES can effectively treat chronic pain in persons with SCI.
Key words: adults, cranial, cranial electrotherapy stimulation, electric stimulation therapy, male, musculoskeletal, neuropathic, pain, rehabilitation, spinal cord injury, veterans.

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