Department of Defense Funds Pilot Study at Wake Forest Baptist to Evaluate Effect of ‘Brainwave Balancing’ on PTSD Symptoms

July 24, 2014

Neurology researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have a new pilot study in the works thanks to funding from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). Funding was made possible specifically through the Joint Capability Technology Demonstration Program within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics) via a contract with the U.S. Special Operations Command. The grant will evaluate the use of High-resolution, relational, resonance-based, electroencephalic mirroring (HIRREM®) for reduction of symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in military personnel.

 PTSD has been diagnosed in more than 150,000 military service members since the year 2000.[1] PTSD is often associated with traumatic brain injury and frequently includes symptoms of insomnia and depression. While medications are often used to help control symptoms, additional noninvasive, non-drug approaches are needed.

This pilot study will enroll 10 participants recruited by the U.S. Special Operations Command who are active or retired military personnel and have been diagnosed with PTSD that is related to their military service. 

Charles H. Tegeler, M.D., McKinney-Avant Professor of Neurology, director of telestroke services, and director of the Ward A. Riley Ultrasound Center at Wake Forest Baptist is the principal investigator in the HIRREM clinical study. Tegeler said he is looking forward to working with active and retired military service members in this clinical trial. “It is a privilege to be able to work with these fine men and women, as we seek to identify improved strategies to reduce symptoms associated with this debilitating disorder.”

HIRREM, commercially known as Brainwave Optimization®, is a product created by Brain State Technologies, LLC, of Scottsdale, Ariz. The technology is based on the understanding that traumatic stress can disturb brain rhythms, including patterns of left-right balance.  HIRREM technology translates the brain’s changing activity patterns into audible tones in real time. Resonance between frequencies of the brain and frequencies of the tones allows the brain to relax, and make self-adjustments towards improved balance, like a musical instrument tuning itself. 

Participants will receive a course of HIRREM sessions over a two-week period at Wake Forest Baptist, and will be followed for three months after completion of the sessions. HIRREM has been associated with reduced symptoms in a pilot study of people with insomnia, and with reduced persisting symptoms following traumatic brain injury.

Prior support for HIRREM research at Wake Forest Baptist, $2.3 million, has come from The Susanne Marcus Collins Foundation, Inc., Atlanta, GA. This is Tegeler’s first HIRREM study to receive funding from the DoD.  

The initial contacts leading to this pilot study were facilitated through the North Carolina Military Foundation (NCMF), which helps develop partnerships between North Carolina communities and the military to benefit military needs. On behalf of the NCMF, retired Vice Admiral John Morgan said, “A signature challenge arises from every conflict and such is the case with TBI and PTSD following operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This academic work and pioneering approach addresses this challenge. I have witnessed firsthand the progress that is being made and I’m grateful to all that have added hope to this quest.”

For more information about the HIRREM research program at Wake Forest Baptist, visit



[1] 1. Fischer H. Guide to U.S. Military Casualty Statistics: Operation New Dawn, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom. Congressional Research Service, February 19, 2014.


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