Posts Tagged PTSD

[HelpGuide] Helping Someone with PTSD

Helping a Loved One While Taking Care of Yourself

Women embracingWhen someone you care about suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it can leave you feeling overwhelmed. The changes in your loved one can worry or even frighten you. You may feel angry about what’s happening to your family and relationship, or hurt by your loved one’s distance and moodiness. But it’s important to know  that you’re not helpless. Your support can make all the difference for your partner, friend, or family member’s recovery. With your help, your loved one can overcome PTSD and move on with their life.

Living with someone who has PTSD

PTSD can take a heavy toll on relationships. It can be hard to understand your loved one’s behavior—why they are less affectionate and more volatile. You may feel like you’re walking on eggshells or living with a stranger. You may have to take on a bigger share of household tasks, deal with the frustration of a loved one who won’t open up, or even deal with anger or disturbing behavior. The symptoms of PTSD can also lead to job loss, substance abuse, and other problems that affect the whole family.

It’s hard not to take the symptoms of PTSD personally, but it’s important to remember that a person with PTSD may not always have control over their behavior. Your loved one’s nervous system is “stuck” in a state of constant alert, making them continually feel vulnerable and unsafe. This can lead to anger, irritability, depression, mistrust, and other PTSD symptoms that your loved one can’t simply choose to turn off. With the right support from friends and family, though, your loved one’s nervous system can become “unstuck” and they can finally move on from the traumatic event.

Helping someone with PTSD tip 1: Provide social support

It’s common for people with PTSD to withdraw from friends and family. While it’s important to respect your loved one’s boundaries, your comfort and support can help the person with PTSD overcome feelings of helplessness, grief, and despair. In fact, trauma experts believe that face-to-face support from others is the most important factor in PTSD recovery.

Knowing how to best demonstrate your love and support for someone with PTSD isn’t always easy. You can’t force your loved one to get better, but you can play a major role in the healing process by simply spending time together.

Don’t pressure your loved one into talking. It can be very difficult for people with PTSD to talk about their traumatic experiences. For some, it can even make them feel worse. Instead, let them know you’re willing to listen when they want to talk, or just hang out when they don’t. Comfort for someone with PTSD comes from feeling engaged and accepted by you, not necessarily from talking.

Do “normal” things with your loved one, things that have nothing to do with PTSD or the traumatic experience. Encourage your loved one to participate in rhythmic exercise, seek out friends, and pursue hobbies that bring pleasure. Take a fitness class together, go dancing, or set a regular lunch date with friends and family.

Let your loved one take the lead, rather than telling him or her what to do. Everyone with PTSD is different but most people instinctively know what makes them feel calm and safe. Take cues from your loved one as to how you can best provide support and companionship.

Manage your own stress. The more calm, relaxed, and focused you are, the better you’ll be able to help your loved one.

Be patient. Recovery is a process that takes time and often involves setbacks. The important thing is to stay positive and maintain support for your loved one.

Educate yourself about PTSD. The more you know about the symptoms, effects, and treatment options, the better equipped you’ll be to help your loved one, understand what they are going through, and keep things in perspective.

Accept (and expect) mixed feelings. As you go through the emotional wringer, be prepared for a complicated mix of feelings—some of which you’ll never want to admit. Just remember, having negative feelings toward your family member doesn’t mean you don’t love them.

Tip 2: Be a good listener

While you shouldn’t push a person with PTSD to talk, if they do choose to share, try to listen without expectations or judgments. Make it clear that you’re interested and that you care, but don’t worry about giving advice. It’s the act of listening attentively that is helpful to your loved one, not what you say.

A person with PTSD may need to talk about the traumatic event over and over again. This is part of the healing process, so avoid the temptation to tell your loved one to stop rehashing the past and move on.

Some of the things your loved one tells you might be very hard to listen to, but it’s important to respect their feelings and reactions. If you come across as disapproving or judgmental, they are unlikely to open up to you again.

Communication pitfalls to avoid

Don’t…

  • Give easy answers or blithely tell your loved one everything is going to be okay
  • Stop your loved one from talking about their feelings or fears
  • Offer unsolicited advice or tell your loved one what they “should” do
  • Blame all of your relationship or family problems on your loved one’s PTSD
  • Invalidate, minimize, or deny your loved one’s traumatic experience
  • Give ultimatums or make threats or demands
  • Make your loved one feel weak because they aren’t coping as well as others
  • Tell your loved one they were lucky it wasn’t worse
  • Take over with your own personal experiences or feelings

Tip 3: Rebuild trust and safety

Trauma alters the way a person sees the world, making it seem like a perpetually dangerous and frightening place. It also damages people’s ability to trust others and themselves. If there’s any way you can rebuild your loved one’s sense of security, it will contribute to their recovery.

Express your commitment to the relationship. Let your loved one know that you’re here for the long haul so they feel loved and supported.

Create routines. Structure and predictable schedules can restore a sense of stability and security to people with PTSD, both adults and children. Creating routines could involve getting your loved one to help with groceries or housework, for example, maintaining regular times for meals, or simply “being there” for the person.

Minimize stress at home. Try to make sure your loved one has space and time for rest and relaxation.

Speak of the future and make plans. This can help counteract the common feeling among people with PTSD that their future is limited.

Keep your promises. Help rebuild trust by showing that you’re trustworthy. Be consistent and follow through on what you say you’re going to do.

Emphasize your loved one’s strengths. Tell your loved one you believe they’re capable of recovery and point out all of their positive qualities and successes.

Encourage your loved one to join a support group. Getting involved with others who have gone through similar traumatic experiences can help some people with PTSD feel less damaged and alone.

Tip 4: Anticipate and manage triggers

A trigger is anything—a person, place, thing, or situation—that reminds your loved one of the trauma and sets off a PTSD symptom, such as a flashback. Sometimes, triggers are obvious. For example, a military veteran might be triggered by seeing his combat buddies or by the loud noises that sound like gunfire. Others may take some time to identify and understand, such as hearing a song that was playing when the traumatic event happened, for example, so now that song or even others in the same musical genre are triggers. Similarly, triggers don’t have to be external. Internal feelings and sensations can also trigger PTSD symptoms.

Common external PTSD triggers

  • Sights, sounds, or smells associated with the trauma
  • People, locations, or things that recall the trauma
  • Significant dates or times, such as anniversaries or a specific time of day
  • Nature (certain types of weather, seasons, etc.)
  • Conversations or media coverage about trauma or negative news events
  • Situations that feel confining (stuck in traffic, at the doctor’s office, in a crowd)
  • Relationship, family, school, work, or money pressures or arguments
  • Funerals, hospitals, or medical treatment

Common internal PTSD triggers

  • Physical discomfort, such as hunger, thirst, fatigue, sickness, and sexual frustration
  • Any bodily sensation that recalls the trauma, including pain, old wounds and scars, or a similar injury
  • Strong emotions, especially feeling helpless, out of control, or trapped
  • Feelings toward family members, including mixed feelings of love, vulnerability, and resentment

Talking to your loved one about PTSD triggers

Ask your loved one about how they may have coped with triggers in the past in response to an action that seemed to help (as well as those that didn’t). Then you can come up with a joint game plan for how you will respond in future.

Decide with your loved one how you should respond when they have a nightmare, flashback, or panic attack. Having a plan in place will make the situation less scary for both of you. You’ll also be in a much better position to help your loved one calm down.

How to help someone having a flashback or panic attack

During a flashback, people often feel a sense of disassociation, as if they’re detached from their own body. Anything you can do to “ground” them will help.

  • Tell your loved one they’re having a flashback and that even though it feels real, the event is not actually happening again
  • Help remind them of their surroundings (for example, ask them to look around the room and describe out loud what they see)
  • Encourage them to take deep, slow breaths (hyperventilating will increase feelings of panic)
  • Avoid sudden movements or anything that might startle them
  • Ask before you touch them. Touching or putting your arms around the person might make them feel trapped, which can lead to greater agitation and even violence

Tip 5: Deal with volatility and anger

PTSD can lead to difficulties managing emotions and impulses. In your loved one, this may manifest as extreme irritability, moodiness, or explosions of rage.

People suffering from PTSD live in a constant state of physical and emotional stress. Since they usually have trouble sleeping, it means they’re constantly exhausted, on edge, and physically strung out—increasing the likelihood that they’ll overreact to day-to-day stressors. For many people with PTSD, anger can also be a cover for other feelings such as grief, helplessness, or guilt. Anger makes them feel powerful, instead of weak and vulnerable. Others try to suppress their anger until it erupts when you least expect it.

Watch for signs that your loved one is angry, such as clenching jaw or fists, talking louder, or getting agitated. Take steps to defuse the situation as soon as you see the initial warning signs.

Try to remain calm. During an emotional outburst, try your best to stay calm. This will communicate to your loved one that you are “safe,” and prevent the situation from escalating.

Give the person space. Avoid crowding or grabbing the person. This can make a traumatized person feel threatened.

Ask how you can help. For example: “What can I do to help you right now?” You can also suggest a time out or change of scenery.

Put safety first. If the person gets more upset despite your attempts to calm him or her down, leave the house or lock yourself in a room. Call 911 if you fear that your loved one may hurt himself or others.

Help your loved one manage their anger. Anger is a normal, healthy emotion, but when chronic, explosive anger spirals out of control, it can have serious consequences on a person’s relationships, health, and state of mind. Your loved one can get anger under control by exploring the root issues and learning healthier ways to express their feelings.

Tip 6: Take care of yourself

Letting your family member’s PTSD dominate your life while ignoring your own needs is a surefire recipe for burnout and may even lead to secondary traumatization. You can develop your own trauma symptoms from listening to trauma stories or being exposed to disturbing symptoms like flashbacks. The more depleted and overwhelmed you feel, the greater the risk is that you’ll become traumatized.

In order to have the strength to be there for your loved one over the long haul and lower your risk for secondary traumatization, you have to nurture and care for yourself.

Take care of your physical needs: get enough sleep, exercise regularly, eat properly, and look after any medical issues.

Cultivate your own support system. Lean on other family members, trusted friends, your own therapist or support group, or your faith community. Talking about your feelings and what you’re going through can be very cathartic.

Make time for your own life. Don’t give up friends, hobbies, or activities that make you happy. It’s important to have things in your life that you look forward to.

Spread the responsibility. Ask other family members and friends for assistance so you can take a break. You may also want to seek out respite services in your community.

Set boundaries. Be realistic about what you’re capable of giving. Know your limits, communicate them to your family member and others involved, and stick to them.

Support for people taking care of veterans

If the person you’re caring for is a military veteran, financial and caregiving support may be available. In the U.S., visit VA Caregiver Support to explore your options, or call Coaching into Care at (888) 823-7458. For families of military veterans in other countries, see the section below for online resources.

Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A., and Lawrence Robinson. Last updated: June 2019.

via Helping Someone with PTSD – HelpGuide.org

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[WEB SITE] Virtual Reality + Psychiatry: VR Storytelling Could Transform Mental Health

Virtual Psychiatry

By Jeffrey Rindskopf  August 21, 2019

In the early ‘90s, psychologist Albert “Skip” Rizzo was trying to rehabilitate cognitive function in brain injury patients with workbooks and pen-and-paper exercises – tools one might expect more from a special education class than a psychiatric treatment center. Then one patient, a frontal lobe-impaired 22-year-old, came in with a Game Boy, playing “Tetris.”

“This is a guy I couldn’t motivate for more than five minutes to stay focused, but there he was lasered in on this Game Boy,” Rizzo recalls. “That was the first lightbulb that we could start using digital technology to motivate and engage people.”

He became one of many medical professionals at the time to recognize the early potential of virtual reality (VR) to help diagnose and treat a wide range of mental health issues. In 1995, Rizzo accepted a research director position at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies to launch a new kind of cognitive rehab, supplementing the old analog and talk therapy tools with VR simulations.

“Now the technology has caught up with the vision,” he says.

So, what is the vision? Given that most health concerns are inseparable from one’s environment, Rizzo calls VR “the ultimate Skinner box,” meaning it can create safe yet emotionally evocative experiences to serve virtually any assessment or treatment approach imaginable. These therapeutic programs could be uniquely reliable for evaluating patients in the subjective world of mental health, wherein up to 85 percent of conditions can go undetected, according to the World Health Organization.

VR could bridge this gap in awareness and improve diagnoses by letting providers monitor patients’ physiological reactions to virtual scenarios, resulting in better treatment outcomes down the line. At Exeter University, a “mirror game” requiring subjects to duplicate the movements and expressions of a virtual avatar aided early detection of schizophrenia. In a similar vein, University of Oxford researchers are developing a VR-based test that gauges subjects’ reactions to neutral social situations for instances of paranoid thinking. Another study from Cambridge University diagnosed early Alzheimer’s-related spatial impairments more accurately than the current gold standard method, just by having participants don an HTC Vive and retrace their steps along an unmarked L-shaped path.

Another area where VR offers proven advantages is “extinction learning,” a method for overcoming fear and emotional trauma by gradually desensitizing one to the source of their anxiety. Though patients know these experiences aren’t real, that doesn’t change the preconscious response and fear activation of their limbic systems, manifesting in increased heart rate and production of the stress hormone cortisol. Our emotional command centers naturally suspend disbelief even when our logical minds know better, putting VR on par with real-life exposure therapy in clinical effectiveness, but with none of the travel costs or physical danger.

While early programs were calibrated to extinguish common phobias like fear of heights (balancing on a plank between skyscrapers), flying (sitting on the runway in a commercial aircraft) and spiders (progressing through increasingly realistic arachnid encounters), advancements in tech have allowed researchers to tailor more complex experiences, like crowded streets to stimulate social anxiety or traumatic memories for PTSD.

Starting in 2003, Rizzo modified a VR shooter game into an exposure tool called “BRAVEMIND” for veterans to reprocess their traumatic experiences, whether relating to IED blasts or sexual assault, with a therapist virtually recreating the memory as described.

“Most treatments out there for PTSD don’t have a lot of empirical evidence,” explains Rizzo. “The ones that do so far are ones that help a person focus on addressing the trauma, not avoiding it.”

The same principle seems to apply for another trial use of VR to treat schizophrenia. Traditionally, therapists advise patients to ignore auditory hallucinations, but a University of Montreal research team instead helped them create and interact with virtual avatars for the voices in their heads. While four of 19 subjects quit after the first session, the remaining 15 rated each interaction less frightening than the last, and their hallucination-related distress dropped an average of 5 points on a scale of 20 by the study’s end.

More recently, Rizzo and others have taken VR a step further, exploring something increasingly unheard of in American healthcare – prevention.

“BRAVEMIND” was retooled into the award-winning training simulation “STRIVE,” or Stress Resilience In Virtual Environments, preparing military members for the trials and traumas of combat before they’re deployed. Standing atop a vibrating platform in an immersive headset, recruits experience 15-minutes episodes at the midpoint of which an “emotionally challenging” event occurs based on real combat situations, such as the death of a civilian child or beating of a woman for infidelity. The scenario pauses, and a virtual “mentor” pulls players aside to help them process the event and teach physiological coping strategies, like deep breathing with a pair of onscreen lungs.

“We’re trying to engage people in stuff they normally get by way of death by PowerPoint,” says Rizzo. “We know experiential learning with a story sticks in the brain way more than somebody telling you in a lecture.”

Other psychological applications where VR has shown promise include weakening cravings that drive addiction and relapse, reducing body size overestimation in anorexia patients, imparting job interview skills to the autistic or formerly incarcerated, distracting from acutely discomforting procedures like chemotherapy and teaching mindfulness in ways that can engage and offer relief for even chronic pain sufferers. Some VR treatments are already rolling out to clinicians’ offices and consumers – “BRAVEMIND” and “STRIVE” are being donated by the charity SoldierStrong to VA offices across America, while the company Limbix offers $200 monthly subscriptions for a headset with their range of medical-grade VR apps.

Yet this ability to literally shape and heal human minds has mainly been overshadowed by commercial excitement for VR video games, not that Rizzo minds. Gaming industry investment has driven the technology to new heights in sensory immersion and new lows in cost – from $15k for a full setup in the ‘90s to $200 for a standalone headset today – giving it a clinical edge over pricier techniques like neuroimaging.

Now, however, Rizzo considers the incubation period for VR over and stresses the need to distinguish between entertainment versus health-related applications, lest business motives get in the way of credible science and set back public acceptance of the technology. There are many ethical considerations still to be sorted out as well, like ensuring providers have adequate training on the tech as well as patients’ needs and establishing safeguards for self-administered VR treatments.

“We’re not building games here,” Rizzo emphasizes, “we’re building experiences.”

But at the same time, that gaming element may be the key to VR’s revolutionary potential for healthcare. Effective treatment means nothing if people don’t use it, and the allure of VR, demonstrated time and time again in preliminary studies, could actually drive engagement and education in mental health as a whole. Just as the introduction of flight training simulators in the ‘30s led to a precipitous drop in aircraft accidents, this could be another immersive practice tool to minimize real-world distress, but with a universal scope and appeal well beyond that of any Game Boy.

via Virtual Reality + Psychiatry: VR Storytelling Could Transform Mental Health

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[NEWS] ‘Mind-blowing’: Virtual reality PTSD treatment central to launch of consortium

Col. Rakesh Jetly, chief pyschiatrist, Canadian Armed Forces, demonstrates the 3MDR system with Capt. Anna Harpe at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. HiMARC’s Motion-Assisted Multi-Modal Memory Desensitization and Reconsolidation (3MDR) uses virtual reality to treat post traumatic stress syndrome. LARRY WONG / POSTMEDIA

Virtual reality to help more military and other public safety workers cope with PTSD is central to the work of a new group launched in Edmonton.

Heroes in Mind, Advocacy & Research Consortium (HiMARC) is made up of those who want “to serve the men and women in uniform who have served us and continue to serve us daily,” Bob Haennel, dean of the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, said in a Wednesday news release.

HiMARC’s Motion-Assisted, Multi-Modal Memory Desensitization and Reconsolidation (3MDR) research study — the largest of its kind in Canada with 40 Armed Forces participants — allows PTSD patients to use the Computer-Assisted Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN) system at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital.

“It was incredible. I don’t know how else to describe it. My senses were heightened. I was even sensitive to the clanging sound of the carabiner on my harness,” said Capt. Anna Harpe, a social worker at CFB Edmonton, after experiencing the 3MDR system.

Patients who step into the CAREN unit walk on a treadmill toward a stimulus, sounds and images that may remind them of events that trigger traumatic memories. A therapist is with them through the process, guiding the patient confronting the memories.

While Harpe does not have PTSD, she said testing the 3MDR brought back vivid recollections of a mission in Afghanistan when she was in the infantry.

“I have worked with some clients who have been diagnosed with PTSD, and I have to say, the 3MDR is mind-blowing. My whole body was activated. You just cannot get the same thing through talk therapy in an office,” she said.

Study participants are receiving the therapy once a week for six weeks.

“By walking towards the fear, there is a shift in the brain,” said Suzette Brémault-Phillips, director of HiMARC in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine and co-principal investigator for the study in Canada.

The 3MDR system — developed by Col. Eric Vermetten, head of research at the Military Mental Health unit of the Dutch ministry of defence in the Netherlands — has been effective in the Netherlands where it’s been used to treat the rise in PTSD cases there after its mission to Afghanistan.

Vermetten traveled to Edmonton to train Brémault-Phillips and her team to use the system.

HiMARC’s founding members also include the Royal Canadian Legion Alberta-NWT Command, NAIT, the Department of National Defence, Veteran Affairs Canada and Covenant Health.

“HiMARC is creating hope and I am so grateful for this group. I really believe this is just the beginning,” added Harpe.

Source:
https://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/mind-blowing-virtual-reality-ptsd-treatment-central-to-launch-of-consortium

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[TED Talk] Rebecca Brachman: A new class of drug that could prevent depression and PTSD – TED Talk

Current treatments for depression and PTSD only suppress symptoms, if they work at all. What if we could prevent these diseases from developing altogether? Neuroscientist and TED Fellow Rebecca Brachman shares the story of her team’s accidental discovery of a new class of drug that, for the first time ever, could prevent the negative effects of stress — and boost a person’s ability to recover and grow. Learn how these resilience-enhancing drugs could change the way we treat mental illness.

This talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by our editors on the home page.

via Rebecca Brachman: A new class of drug that could prevent depression and PTSD | TED Talk

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[BLOG] Lash & Associates’ Award-Winning Blog site

TBI, ABI, PTSD, Stroke, Concussion Blog Posts!

Lash & Associates’
Award-Winning Blog Site
Is Well Worth A Look

Our large variety of blog articles are keyword searchable, and offer help & encouragement.

Click here to go the our blog site!

No matter what your situation – as a survivor, a clinician, a caregiver, or a family member, our blog site provides a great reference point. Check it out – we’ve got something for most any situation regarding the greater TBI Community!

via Lash & Associates’ Award-Winning Blog site

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[WEB SITE] How Virtual Reality Will Transform Medicine – Scientific American

Anxiety disorders, addiction, acute pain and stroke rehabilitation are just a few of the areas where VR therapy is already in use

How Virtual Reality Will Transform Medicine

Credit: Celia Krampien

If you still think of virtual reality as the province of dystopian science fiction and geeky gamers, you had better think again. Faster than you can say “Ready Player One,” VR is starting to transform our world, and medicine may well be the first sector where the impact is profound. Behavioral neuroscientist Walter Greenleaf of Stanford University has been watching this field develop since the days when VR headsets cost $75,000 and were so heavy, he remembers counterbalancing them with a brick. Today some weigh about a pound and cost less than $200. Gaming and entertainment are driving current sales, but Greenleaf predicts that “the deepest and most significant market will be in clinical care and in improving health and wellness.”

Even in the early days, when the user entered a laughably low-resolution world, VR showed great promise. By the mid-1990s research had shown it could distract patients from painful medical procedures and ease anxiety disorders. One initial success was SnowWorld, which immersed burn patients in a cool, frozen landscape where they could lob snowballs at cartoon penguins and snowmen, temporarily blocking out the real world where nurses were scrubbing wounds, stretching scar tissue and gingerly changing dressings. A 2011 study with 54 children in burn units found an up to 44 percent reduction in pain during VR sessions—with the bonus that these injured kids said they had “fun.”

Another success came in the wake of 9/11. Psychologist JoAnn Difede of NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center began using VR with World Trade Center survivors suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and later with soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

In Difede’s laboratory, I saw the original 9/11 VR program with its scenes of lower Manhattan and the newer Bravemind system, which depicts Iraqi and Afghan locales. Developed with Department of Defense funding by Albert “Skip” Rizzo and Arno Hartholt, both at the University of Southern California, Bravemind is used to treat PTSD at about 100 U.S. sites. The approach is based on exposure therapy, in which patients mentally revisit the source of their trauma guided by a therapist who helps them form a more coherent, less intrusive memory. In VR, patients do not merely reimagine the scene, they are immersed in it.

Difede showed me how therapists can customize scenes in Bravemind to match a patient’s experience. A keystroke can change the weather, add the sound of gunfire or the call to prayers. It can detonate a car bomb or ominously empty a marketplace. An optional menu of odors enables the patient to sniff gunpowder or spices through a metal tube. “What you do with exposure therapy is systematically go over the trauma,” Difede explains. “We’re teaching the brain to process and organize the memory so that it can be filed away and no longer intrudes constantly in the patient’s life.” The results, after nine to 12 gradually intensifying sessions, can be dramatic. One 2010 study with 20 patients found that 16 no longer met the criteria for PTSD after VR treatment.

Until recently, large-scale studies of VR have been missing in action. This is changing fast with the advent of cheaper, portable systems. Difede, Rizzo and three others just completed a randomized controlled trial with nearly 200 PTSD patients. Expected to be published this year, it may shed light on which patients do best with this high-tech therapy and which do not. In a study with her colleague, burn surgeon Abraham Houng, Difede is aiming to quantify the pain-distraction effects of a successor to SnowWorld called Bear Blast, a charming VR game in which patients toss balls at giggly cartoon bears. They will measure whether burn patients need lower doses of intravenous painkillers while playing.

Greenleaf counts at least 20 clinical arenas, ranging from surgical training to stroke rehabilitation to substance abuse where VR is being applied. It can, for example, help recovering addicts avoid relapses by practicing “refusal skills”—turning down drinks at a virtual bar or heroin at a virtual party. Brain imaging suggests that such scenes can evoke very real cravings, just as Bravemind can evoke the heart-racing panic of a PTSD episode. Researchers foresee a day when VR will help make mental health care cheaper and more accessible, including in rural areas.

In a compelling 2017 paper that reviews 25 years of work, Rizzo and co-author Sebastian Koenig ask whether clinical VR is finally “ready for primetime.” If today’s larger studies bear out previous findings, the answer seems to be an obvious “yes.”

via How Virtual Reality Will Transform Medicine – Scientific American

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[BOOK] Person Centered Approach to Recovery in Medicine – Luigi Grassi – Google Books

Bibliographic information

via Person Centered Approach to Recovery in Medicine – Luigi Grassi – Google Books

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[TEDx Talks] Can Virtual Reality Ease Post-traumatic Stress Disorder? | Dr. Brenda Wiederhold | TEDxChapmanU – YouTube

Δημοσιεύτηκε στις 2 Σεπ 2015
A licensed clinical psychologist in the U.S. and Europe, a visiting professor at the Catholic University in Milan, and an entrepreneur, Dr. Brenda Wiederhold completed the first randomized, controlled clinical trial to provide virtual reality medical therapy for war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Her most recent achievement is working with coalition troops to provide stress inoculation training prior to deployment. She is further exploring the use of VR in treating patients of all ages suffering from ailments such as claustrophobia to stress disorders. In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. Dr. Wiederhold is CEO of the Virtual Reality Medical Institute in Belgium and the Executive Vice President of the Virtual Reality Medical Center in California.
She completed the first randomized, controlled clinical trial to provide virtual reality medical therapy for war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Her most recent achievement is working with coalition troops to provide stress inoculation training prior to deployment. She is further exploring the use of VR in treating patients of all ages suffering from ailments such as claustrophobia to stress disorders.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

 

via  Can Virtual Reality Ease Post-traumatic Stress Disorder? | Dr. Brenda Wiederhold | TEDxChapmanU – YouTube

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[Abstract] Combined transcranial direct current stimulation with virtual reality exposure for posttraumatic stress disorder: Feasibility and pilot results

Abstract

Background

Facilitating neural activity using non-invasive brain stimulation may improve extinction-based treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Objective/hypothesis

Here, we examined the feasibility of simultaneous transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) application during virtual reality (VR) to reduce psychophysiological arousal and symptoms in Veterans with PTSD.

Methods

Twelve Veterans with PTSD received six combat-related VR exposure sessions during sham-controlled tDCS targeting ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Primary outcome measures were changes in skin conductance-based arousal and self-reported PTSD symptom severity.

Results

tDCS + VR components were combined without technical difficulty. We observed a significant interaction between reduction in arousal across sessions and tDCS group (p = .03), indicating that the decrease in physiological arousal was greater in the tDCS + VR versus sham group. We additionally observed a clinically meaningful reduction in PTSD symptom severity.

Conclusions

This study demonstrates feasibility of applying tDCS during VR. Preliminary data suggest a reduction in psychophysiological arousal and PTSD symptomatology, supporting future studies.

via Combined transcranial direct current stimulation with virtual reality exposure for posttraumatic stress disorder: Feasibility and pilot results – Brain Stimulation: Basic, Translational, and Clinical Research in Neuromodulation

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[BLOG POST] Sleep Disorders After Brain Injury, PTSD, TBI

Why Do So Many Survivors Have Sleep Disorders After Brain Injury?

January 2018,  Written by Bill Herrin

Click Here to sign up to receive a BULLETIN monthly!!!

January’s Brain Injury Journey Bulletin dives into the new year with a topic that often keeps people up at night…sleep disorders after TBI.

Sleep. It can be elusive, and one of the most frustrating things to accomplish after brain injury – especially on a consistent basis. Quite often, sleep disorders can take hold after brain injury – and cause everything from anxiousness to feeling depressed, tired, irritable, and more. In this issue of the Brain Injury Journey Bulletin, we’re going to take a look at all the things that sleep can affect, and some ways to conquer a sleep disorder after TBI.

Tossing and Turning

When your quality of life is being affected by lack of sleep, the desperation of wanting to rest can actually hinder you from getting the rest you need. Here are some changes in sleep patterns after TBI that are quite common:

  • difficulty falling asleep easily
  • trouble staying asleep throughout the night
  • waking up very early in the morning and not falling back to sleep
  • falling asleep and awakening far later than desired
  • purposely staying up late at night to get things done

Examples are:

  • You get into bed around 10 but it takes you several hours to fall asleep.
  • You wake up frequently during the night for no major reason.
  • You wake up at 4 in the morning and cannot fall back to sleep.
  • You’re up late every night working on the computer and your partner keeps asking
    you to come to bed.

Sleep Disorders and Other Factors

There are lots of different sleep disorders, and they can involve many different parts of the brain. Here are some of the more well-known sleep disorders that people encounter: Insomnia, extreme drowsiness, altered sleep patterns and Narcolepsy. Other disorders that can directly contribute to lack of sleep are Restless Leg Syndrome, teeth grinding or clenching, involuntary movements of your arms/legs during sleep, sleepwalking, sleep apnea, etc. Other factors that can deprive you from sleep are pain, alcohol, caffeine and nicotine, depression…and naps. A poorly timed nap (late in the day) obviously can end up backfiring on you later that night! It’s best to limit the length of naps so they help you get through the day, but don’t keep you up at night.

When PTSD is involved, especially in military veterans, sleep disorders can disturb sleep to the point of a person dreading bedtime, and efforts to quiet the symptoms with drugs or alcohol can make symptoms worse in the long run. Hyper-alertness, flashbacks, or nightmares can play a big part in keeping PTSD survivors up at night.

Research has found that sleep disorders are 3 times more common in persons with TBI than the general population, that about 60% of TBI survivors have ongoing problems with sleeping, that women are more affected than men…and that aging increases the likelihood of sleep problems.

This group has been researching how people sleep, and they have collected some great information about how drug addiction and recovery can affect a person’s ability to have healthy, restorative sleep….along with addressing other sleep disorders. You can read the full guide at this link.

Better sleep?

Sleep, when achieved regularly, brings a bevy of positive side-effects, and is an essential component of mental and physical well-being. It can affect healing of the brain and body, improve short-term memory and attention, improvement of your mood, and it can even reduce physical pain. The main thing that sleep obviously provides is that you feel rested and more alert!

How You Sleep Also Matters

Being uncomfortable can affect your sleep more than you realize, too. Here’s a link to an article on WebMD.com that covers different sleep positions, and how they can help (or hinder) sleep, or even cause pain in your back, neck, etc.  Here’s the link.

Talk It Over With Your Doctor

There are plenty of over-the-counter and off-the-shelf medications specifically made to help you “catch some ZZZZZ’s” – but it’s very important that persons with brain injury talk to their doctor about the side effects of sleep medications before using any of them.

Brain injury presents a variety of issues that can cause stress, and the stress can easily parlay itself into loss of sleep. If loss of sleep is wearing you down, or slowing your recovery after TBI, you should speak with a physician right away. Once you seek medical advice, the doctor can help you discover the causes and effects of your sleep issues, and discuss all possibilities of easing the loss of sleep. From sleep labs to prescription medications, to discussing techniques for easing your mind before bedtime, your doctor will hopefully help you resolve the sleep deprivation to some degree.

Suggested Reading

The person you are with little or no sleep, versus the one you are when well rested can be like the difference in…well, like night and day! Tips for managing your sleep schedule, and how to improve it, are available in this easy-to-read tip card – available on our website. It’s titled “Sleep after brain injury”, and if you go to this link, you can get a free tip card and catalog.  Here’s the link. for the catalog & tip card. Here’s more info on the SLEEP tip card.

New Year, New Sleep Habits?

With a new year started, you can reference any issues imaginable that relate to PTSD, TBI, ABI, brain injury, concussion, and more, on Lash & Associates’ blog page. Specifically relating to the new year, realistic resolutions after TBI, here is a blog article by Donna O’Donnell Figurski that talks all about it. Here’s the link.

Knowing that stress and anxiety (after TBI) can take its toll, this blog post by Marilyn Lash and Taryn Stejskal, discusses managing stress, and the symptoms of stress that become evident when they’re taking their toll on your health and well-being. Here’s the link.

Blog Posts Galore On A Wide Range of TBI Issues

Feel free to keyword search our entire collection of blog posts, many written by well-known experts, clinicians in the field of brain injury, and also people who have survived brain injury, had family members that have a TBI, and much more. It’s a treasure trove of information that is available for FREE, 24/7/365. It’s all for you at this link!

Resolution of sleeping issues is a “2018 Resolution” for the new year that many have added to their lists to  achieve. We hope that you have a great new year, and that you rest assured…and sleep well!

 

 

 

 

via Sleep Disorders After Brain Injury, PTSD, TBI

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