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Hope on the horizon for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder
Date:11/18/2011

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are teaming up for a research project aimed at advancing the treatment of military personnel suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

"PTSD and mild TBI are serious problems for our vets coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan," said Dwayne W. Godwin, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Wake Forest Baptist and co-principal investigator on the project. "It's a problem that will only continue to grow in the future as our troops return home from these conflicts. This challenge provides a unique opportunity to learn more about this disorder from data that exists on a well-defined pool of patients who have been medically evaluated and tested."

Using a high-tech tool for brain activity imaging called magnetoencephalography (MEG), researchers will conduct neurological tests on military veterans with and without a PTSD diagnosis, and with varying levels of impairment. The participants will be asked to perform tasks, similar to games, which engage the parts of the brain involved in executive function determining what to do, how to do it, and assessing the relative risk of a situation while sitting in the scanner. Researchers will then compare the images of brain activity from individuals with PTSD and/or mild TBI with the images of individuals without the condition to see whether these particular parts of the brain function differently between people with and without the disorder.

PTSD not only affects military personnel it can happen to anyone after experiencing or witnessing traumatic events, such as being attacked, a natural disaster or human tragedy. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, many of the first responders developed PTSD as a result of the devastation they observed.

The causes of this disorder are not well understood, however. "We know that there are s
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Contact: Jessica Guenzel
jguenzel@wakehealth.edu
336-716-3487
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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