Study Offers Hope to Victims of PTSD
The disorder can display certain hallmark symptoms, such as momentary flashbacks, the avoidance of reminders of the trauma, emotional numbness and hyper-arousal to stimuli. Now, by relying on the latest advances in brain imaging, a new study at the University of Texas in Arlington is introducing some hopeful possibilities for helping those who suffer from PTSD.
New Study Findings About PTSD
A team led by professor of bioengineering Hanli Liu and associate professor of social work Alexa Smith-Osborne used functional near infrared spectroscopy (or fNIRS) to trace and map changes in the brain caused by PTSD in 16 veterans who volunteered for the study. Using neuroimaging technology, researchers observed the volunteer test subjects (all of whom had seen active combat and been diagnosed with PTSD) as they performed various computer tasks involving number ordering and memory exercises.
Strikingly, in addition to experiencing significantly more difficulties in recall and memory exercises, the test subjects showed similar signs of impaired functioning in one particular area of the brain: the right prefrontal cortex.
How Study May Help Further the Treatment of PTSD
Researchers are hopeful that these findings and the latest benefits of neuroimaging technology will allow clinicians and doctors involved in the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD to customize their intervention strategies for people with PTSD. The early promises of this new field of research may in turn give veterans suffering from PTSD more hope and courage to seek help. Currently, less than one-quarter of PTSD-affected soldier will ever admit they have a problem.
PTSD can affect anyone who has experienced a serious, life-threatening event — not just those in active combat. Other triggers of PTSD can include: sexual or physical abuse; a serious car accident or other catastrophe, such as a natural disaster; or an act of terrorism.