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Improving mental health and PTSD outcomes through neuromodulation

October 3, 2023

A generous grant of $500,000 from Veterans Affairs Canada will help Sunnybrook provide access, expand capacity and improve outcomes for Veterans and those living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression and addiction.

“We are incredibly grateful to be a recipient of the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund. The funding will help advance therapies which will have a positive impact on the future health of Veterans, eventually extending to a wider group of Canadians living with mental health conditions,” says Dr. Nir Lipsman, Director, Harquail Centre for Neuromodulation at Sunnybrook.

Of the 21 grants provided through Veterans Affairs Canada, Sunnybrook was awarded one of two scientific projects. This new funding is on top of previous support from Veterans Affairs Canada, which will allow researchers and clinicians at the Harquail Centre for Neuromodulation to expand care and treatments.

Offering a spectrum of treatments, to those who have exhausted all other available therapies, has given patients like Serena Kelly a ‘new lease on life’ after suffering with PTSD for years. The debilitating mental illness has prevalence rates in Veterans of up to 37 per cent and it is estimated that 8 per cent of Canadians meet the criteria for probable PTSD based on symptoms experienced over the last month.

The grant will support acquisition of an additional transcranial magnetic stimulation machine which allows precision-navigation brain stimulation, a rapidly expanding treatment for major depressive disorder. Funding will also enable greater community access to neuromodulation by formalizing referral networks, extending partnerships with community hospitals with psychiatry services beyond Sunnybrook’s local catchment area, as well as building relationships with first responder and Veterans’ groups.

“The area of neuromodulation has tremendous momentum, and Sunnybrook is not only a hub for this work but also has a proud and long history of supporting the health of our Veterans,” says Dr. Andy Smith, President and CEO, Sunnybrook. “Ultimately, the goal is to improve the well-being and quality of life for patients and families across the country.”