Seattle PD tests brain stimulation device for mental wellness

ByLance T. Lee

May 9, 2022
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(Photo: Michael Förtsch/Unsplash)
The Seattle Police Department is testing a brain stimulation device to see if it has a positive effect on employees’ mental well-being.

The device is part of a larger effort to promote wellness across the organization as well as “normalize access to personal care.” according to to Loren Atherly, Director of Performance Analytics and Research at SPD. While SPD has always sought to protect employees’ mental well-being through peer support, Atherly’s team looked for less traditional ways that might also help reduce the effects of work-related stressors.

Enter the Fisher Wallace Stimulator, which New York-based Fisher Wallace Labs says helps reduce symptoms in people with depression, anxiety, or insomnia. The proprietary Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES) device comes in the form of a headband that users wear during daily 20-minute treatment sessions. Most users are said to see their symptoms diminish within the first week of use, but real relief can take two to four weeks.

Fisher Wallace says the headband stimulates the brain to produce feel-good chemicals like serotonin, which is often in short supply for people with depression and other mood disorders. It also emits alpha waves to help calm the user’s body. Fisher Wallace website said the headband helps reduce cortisol (called the “stress hormone”), but does not specify how.

(Photo: Fisher Wallace Laboratories)

Up to 200 SPD employees will participate in the ministry’s CES pilot program, including first responders and administrative staff. Half will receive (or have already received) dummy devices for the first two weeks as a control. All participating employees will be asked to use the device daily for four weeks, after which they can choose whether or not to continue treatment. The SPD has implemented several ways to track the effectiveness of the pacemaker: Employee symptoms and other health data will be measured through virtual doctor visits, self-reporting, and a wrist-worn ReadiBand. Fatigue Science, the Vancouver-based company that produces ReadiBand, says the band can track user fatigue, mental performance and reaction times – crucial data for measuring both pacemaker success and fitness. of each employee at what is often a fast and high pace. -use of stakes.

The SPD pilot program will be relatively short, which means it will not provide enough data to determine whether the Fisher Wallace pacemaker improves the mental well-being of law enforcement employees over the long term. Yet people with depression, anxiety, and insomnia know that even short-term relief can be invaluable.

“This is our first approach in a series of research projects that we call practical wellness research,” Atherly told GeekWire. “We are open and receptive to other projects that could help support people’s behavior and well-being.”

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