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FDA Reconsiders Behavior-Modifying 'Shock Devices'

Agency meets Thursday to discuss outlawing tools used on emotionally disabled kids

THURSDAY, April 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The days of electro-shock devices as a tool for managing hard-to-control behavior in people with disabilities may be numbered, U.S. health officials say.

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel is meeting Thursday to discuss a ban on using "electrical stimulation devices" to modify aggressive or self-injurious behavior in people with severe emotional problems or developmental disorders such as autism.

The devices are used as an "aversion therapy" technique at a center in Massachusetts that serves children and adults with serious special needs. To its knowledge, the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Mass., is the only facility using the devices in an attempt to change behavior, the FDA said in background material released prior to the meeting.

"The FDA has grown concerned that serious risks of using these devices may outweigh the benefits for patients with limited intellectual ability or developmental disabilities, and that they may pose an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury to patients," agency spokeswoman Jennifer Rodriguez told HealthDay.

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