PTSD responsive to exposure therapy
Information emerging from early results of an ongoing randomized trail show promise for exposure therapy in conjunction with virtual reality technology in veterans suffering from PTSD. According to Barbara Rotbaum, Ph.D. of Emory, the therapy appears to be responsible for substantial decreases in PTSD symptom scores. The study, which has now collected data from 22 patients and expects a total enrollment of 150 patients, found that the intensity of startle response in participants reduced by 75% after six months of treatment. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that reviews the study:
Mean scores for the 22 patients on the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale were 83 at baseline. Among 14 patients who had completed three months in the study, mean scores declined to 60.
Two Iraq veterans who have completed a full year in the study had scores of 21, Dr. Rothbaum said.
Intensity of startle responses after six months of treatment declined 75% from baseline, she added.
All patients so far appear to have benefited to some degree from the therapy.
The drug assignments are double-blind, Dr. Rothbaum said. The blinding remains in place, so the preliminary signs of efficacy are likely due to the virtual reality therapy, she said.
The virtual reality therapy uses a head-mounted visual display, headphones, and even odor generators to recreate the traumas causing patients’ PTSD.
Dr. Rothbaum said the system can simulate urban foot patrols and Humvees traveling along a desert highway.
She showed a video clip indicating that the animated graphics are nearly as realistic as recent video games.