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Service Dogs Help Traumatized Veterans Heal
Date:9/3/2009

gs help by comparing soldiers with PTSD who have dogs with a similar group of soldiers without a dog. Researchers will measure changes in symptoms and medication use.

"We want to provide evidence for something we know observationally and help create a movement towards the use of psychiatric service dogs," said lead investigator Craig T. Love, senior study director at Westat, a research corporation in Rockville, Md. "It's time to make a change."

"A recent survey showed that 82 percent of patients with PTSD who were assigned a dog had a decrease in symptoms, and 40 percent had a decrease in the medications they had to take," added Dr. Melissa Kaime, director of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), who spoke at a telebriefing last month. "I fully expect this will be positive trial."

Details of this and several other studies being funded by CDMRP are to be presented this week at the Military Health Research Forum in Kansas City.

Other research includes creating a "virtual supermarket" environment to help veterans with both PTSD and mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) cope with a return to civilian life.

Veterans with these conditions can have trouble adapting from being in a combat zone to being at home, where seemingly mundane daily events can prove jarring.

"These soldiers have challenges and difficulties when they have buttons that can be pushed and, when they are pushed, there's no calling it back," explained Dr. Charles E. Levy, lead investigator on this trial and chief of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System. "This is [a virtual] environment where people could have a chance to basically practice life skills without the consequences of failure."

Levy decided on a grocery store because it "offers challenges of planning, challenges of finding the stuff once you decide what you're going to get, managing money," he sa
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