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Program for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Studies

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World Trade Center 9/11 Virtual Reality Clinical Study

Participants: 

This study is no longer recruiting. The population recruited were individuals with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder related to 9/11 who witnessed the WTC attacks (i.e., who witnessed the planes hit the towers and/or witnessed the towers collapse)

Purpose: 

The purpose of this study is to treat symptoms of Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from 9/11 using traditional treatment combined with the Virtual Reality Therapy program. We will also be examining the effects of using D-Cycloserine (DCS) in conjunction with the virtual reality treatment.

Details: 

Treatment was offered on an individual basis for 12-14 weekly sessions lasting approximately 75 minutes each. This cognitive-behavioral treatment aims to introduce skills and techniques that will reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. One essential component of the treatment includes describing one's experiences on 9/11. To enhance the ability to retell the experience, participants were presented with a computerized virtual reality World Trade Center scenario, in which they saw and heard a "virtual environment" through a headset. In addition, participants were randomly assigned to take either a low dose of D-Cycloserine (DCS; a broad-spectrum antibiotic) or a placebo pill prior to their weekly session to examine the effects of DCS on treatment. Thus treatment incorporates traditional techniques that have been shown to be effective in treating PTSD, with cutting-edge technology and pharmacology to enhance the treatment. 

See select publications to learn more about the findings of this study. 

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