Last year, on June 23, twelve young boys—members of the Wild Boars youth soccer team—and their coach were unexpectedly trapped inside an underground cave system in Thailand. When flood water quickly and unexpectedly rose, their exploration went from fun and exciting to frightening and dangerous...and fast. The water blocked off their exit and trapped them inside, with their only option to go deeper into the cave. They were trapped in the cave for over two weeks before cave rescue teams from China, Myanmar, Laos, Australia, the UK, and the United States finally reached them on July 10.
Since its introduction as an anesthetic in the ‘60s and its subsequent fall from fashion in the ‘80s, ketamine’s comeback has been an interesting one to watch. Reintroduced to hospital emergency departments as a sedative and analgesic in the late ‘90s, and recently discovered to be a highly effective antidepressant, pain reliever, addiction treatment and potential PTSD vaccine, emergency medical service providers and first-responders are beginning to leveraging the versatility of the drug to provide the best possible care for patients.
Since the antidepressant effects of ketamine were discovered, its seems as though a Pandora’s Box of new uses for the medicine has been opened. Recent studies by the Columbia University Medical Center show that ketamine may prevent PTSD from developing in individuals who will experience a trauma – an especially hopeful discovery for our nation’s soldiers and first responders. Ketamine has also shown promise as an alcohol and cocaine addiction treatment. All of this on top of already being used to effectively alleviate chronic pain, treat depression and mood disorders, and – of course – as an anesthetic.