By Scott Barbour
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Extra info for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
In virtual reality the patient wears a headset that presents an audio and visual simulation of his or her traumatic event. So far, programs have been developed for terrorist attacks and combat situations. While the effectiveness of virtual reality has not yet been proved in scientific studies, experts are enthusiastic about its potential to reexpose patients to their trauma in a safe way, helping them confront their feelings of fear and helplessness and ultimately experience a decrease in their stress-related anxiety and other PTSD symptoms.
Facts and Illustrations • A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 20 percent of the residents of Manhattan had PTSD 5 to 8 weeks after the September 11, 2001, attacks that destroyed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and killed over 2,600 people. • According to a study conducted by the Royal College of Psychiatry, after a July 2005 suicide bombing in London that killed 56 people and injured about 700, 30 to 40 percent of victims developed PTSD, and 20 percent had symptoms 2 years after the attack.
Through the use of mental imagery, talking, or writing, the patient repeatedly relives the event with increasing degrees of exposure. In this way the patient comes to view the event objectively rather than being overwhelmed by fear with each memory, and his or her PTSD symptoms diminish. As described by Laurie B. Slone and Matthew J. ”32 Often used in conjunction with exposure therapy, cognitive processing therapy employs a technique known as cognitive restructuring. The patient and therapist identify negative or counterproductive thoughts related to the traumatic event and systematically change them.