Tulsa Researchers Hope To Improve Care For Combat Veterans

Thursday, August 22nd 2013, 6:03 pm
By: News On 6

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a struggle for many Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans.

Researchers hope those facing PTSD can be taught to control the negative emotions brought on by the disorder.

An area research facility has started a study, which could ultimately improve the mental health of our veterans.

Dr. Jerzy Bodurka is the Chief Technology Officer at Laureate Institute for Brain Research. They call it LIBR.

He explained to us how they hope to use MRI in conjunction with electroencephalography to create a treatment for post traumatic stress disorder for America's combat veterans.

"The goal--what the Department of Defense wants to do is to try to find ways to better care for the soldiers," said Tom Cooper.

This study in Tulsa is one of four the government has funded nationwide to try to find new ways to help. They know that some traumatic event or incident has caused a short circuit in the medulla, the very small part of the brain where emotional responses like fear, anxiety, anger and depression originate.

"So, with PTSD this response is not working like it is supposed to," Bodurka said.

They believe they can scan a subject's brain, measure its responses to different stimuli, show the subject how their brain is responding, then teach them to calm their own symptoms. In effect, re-wire the short circuit that caused the problem in the first place.

"Our hope is we can run as it does in healthy people," Bodurka said.

"Dr. Bodurka's studies have already shown, at least in pilot studies, that this technique can help people with depression. So, the question we had is, 'Can it help people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?'" Cooper said.

What they need is combat veterans ages 18 to 54 to participate in the study. Ultimately, they hope to develop treatments that can improve rehab and the quality of life for veterans and members of the military with PTSD, as well as families and the community as a whole.

They say everything is confidential, there is no exposure to radiation, and participants are compensated for their time. Anyone interested can call 918-502-5100, for a confidential screening.