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Police stress reduction study has Dayton officers wearing devices off duty

For about 20 minutes to an hour every other day, about 100 Dayton police officers connect wet-clip electrodes from cell-phone-sized devices to their ear lobes, sending gentle electrical signals through their brains. 

The hoped-for results: Less stress, better sleep — and a better life. 

For almost a month, Dayton police officers have been part of a study examining the use of the devices meant to ease stress among first-responders, a Texas company has announced with the city of Dayton. 

About 100 officers are now halfway through a six-week study into the devices. 

The devices, called “Alpha-Stim,” are used at home and are available only with a prescription.

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Kathy Platoni, a retired U.S. Army colonel who works as a clinical psychologist for the Dayton police department and other regional departments, said she has used Alpha-Stim in her private practice for 28 years. 

“It has been tremendously helpful across the board,” Platoni said. She called it the “gold standard” for the treatment of PTSD — post traumatic stress disorder -- as an adjunct to traditional therapies.

“And I don’t get paid to say that,” she added.

The devices’ maker -- Electromedical Products International (EPI), Inc. -- says they use “cranial electrotherapy stimulation and microcurrent electrical therapy to deliver the only patented waveform on the market which is clinically proven to work in 9 out of 10 people who use it, even when other therapies failed.” 

The 37-year-old company conducted a similar six-week study with a smaller police department in Texas. Tracey Kirsch, president of EPI, called those results “encouraging.”

 "It's always reassuring to see good results coming from the people who use it," said Tracey Kirsch, president of EPI. "The people who really need it are first-responders.”

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EPI is based in Mineral Wells, Texas., where an earlier study with a smaller police force was conducted.

Volunteers report on their mood and sleep, the company said in a release issued in mid-October. (The city of Dayton issued its own announcement Monday.)

The Alpha-Stim is “a non-invasive, (Federal Drug Administration-) cleared prescription medical device that delivers safe and effective non-drug relief of anxiety, insomnia and depression,” the company said. 

Asked how it works, Kirsch said the devices and their signals are electrical — like our brains.

“Your brain is electrical,” she said. Putting the process into layman’s terms, she said the electrical signals “normalize” brain function, harnessing electricity to help calm the brain.

Officers participating in the study get to keep the $800 device at no cost, EPI also said.

A new Android app will be tested by the participants in the Dayton study, the company said.

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