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Ann Rehabil Med. 2017 Aug;41(4):693-700. doi: 10.5535/arm.2017.41.4.693. Epub 2017 Aug 31.

A Preliminary Study on qEEG in Burn Patients With Chronic Pruritus.

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Spaulding Center of Neuromodulation, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.
Surgical Services, Sumner M. Redstone Burn Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
Shriners Hospitals for Children-Boston, Boston, MA, USA.



To explore and determine the reorganizational changes in the cortical neural circuits associated with pruritis, this study was undertaken to compare the electroencephalography (EEG) changes in burn patients having primary symptoms of chronic itching (pruritis) and their paired healthy subjects.


Eight subjects were recruited for this exploratory pilot study: 4 patients with pruritus after burn injury matched by gender and age with 4 healthy subjects. EEG recordings were analyzed for absolute alpha, low beta, high beta, and theta power for both groups.


The mean age of the burn patients was 41.75 years; while the mean age for the matched healthy subjects was 41.5 years. All subjects were male. A decreased alpha activity was observed in the occipital channels (0.82 vs. 1.4; p=0.01) and a decreased low beta activity in the frontal area (0.22 vs. 0.4; p=0.049) in eyes closed conditions. An overall decreased theta trend was observed in both the eyes open and eyes closed conditions in burn patients, compared to healthy individuals.


This preliminary study presents initial evidence that chronic pruritus in burn subjects may be associated with brain reorganizational changes at the cortical level characterized by an EEG pattern.


Brain waves; Burns; Electroencephalography; Pruritus; Quality of life

Conflict of interest statement

CONFLICT OF INTEREST: No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.

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