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Traumatic Stress Disorders


Traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition that usually results from severe emotional distress, sometimes in the context of significant physical harm.   Particularly for military personnel, the symptoms of traumatic stress disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be combined or confused with the residual symptoms and sequelae of TBI.  Current treatment approaches consist primarily of psychoactive medications, psychotherapy and behavioral interventions.

Efforts to objectively demonstrate the presence, quantify the degree and monitor the progress of impairments, (ie; new biological and longitudinal physical sensor-based metrics) are priority areas of focus. These methods could facilitate the testing of novel interventions, such as those that modify brain plasticity.

CIMIT’s Traumatic Stress Disorders Program seeks to expand and improve upon current approaches to diagnosis and treatment.  This Program leverages the areas of innovation in the CIMIT Neurotechnology, Trauma & Casualty Care, and TBI & Neurotrauma Programs, recognizing that many patients suffer from combinations of conditions that require clinicians to draw on a range of specialty resources.

  • Projects
  • Forum/Events
  • News
CIMIT-Supported Ongoing & Future Traumatic Stress Disorders Projects
In collaboration with Manchester, MH VA Medical Center
The Effect of Oxytocin on Fear Memory Consolidation: A Novel Intervention to Prevent PTSD
Event-related P2 slope as a predictor of response to SSRIs in a veteran population
Studying pathways by which animals and humans learn not to fear

Studying identical twins discordant for combat exposure in order to clarify the origins of brain and biological abnormalities in PTSD, i.e., innate vs. acquired

Developing psychophysiological and neuroimaging methods for distinguishing injured combat veterans with vs. without PTSD

Utilizing neurological soft signs to distinguish mild traumatic brain injury from PTSD

Utilizing psychophysiology and neuroimaging for early prediction of treatment response

Pioneering novel treatment for PTSD based upon memory “reconsolidation”

Structural neuroimaging using diffusion tensor imaging

» View all CIMIT-Funded Projects.



Related Past CIMIT Forum and Events
Forum Nov. 10, 2009

Eric Bluman, MD, PhD: BWH, Foot and Ankle Center, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, HMS

COL Paul Pasquina, MD: US Army Medical Corps and Walter Reed Army Medical Center and National Naval Medical Center

Matt Mikosz: Hanger, Inc.

Henrik Malchau, MD, PhD: MGH and HMS

Cathryn Sundback, ScD: MGH

Lifei Guo, MD, PhD: BWH and HMS

Joseph S. Barr, Jr., MD: MGH and HMS

Care of the Wounded Warrior: Upper Extremity Injury
Forum June 9, 2009 Albert “Skip” Rizzo, PhD: Research Scientist and Research Professor, Institute for Creative Technologies and Dept. of Psychiatry/ School of Gerontology, USC Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan: Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy with Active Duty OIF/OEF Military Personnel with PTSD
Forum: Trauma and Critical Care Jan. 27, 2009

Matthew J. Martin, MD, FACS: Trauma Medical Director, Associate Residency Director, Madigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma, Washington

David King, MD: MAJ, MC, USAR, Attending Trauma Surgeon, Attending Emergency General Surgeon, Attending Intensive Care Surgeon and Clinical Instructor in Surgery, MGH, HMS

"The Golden Hour" in Modern Combat Trauma: Different Battlefields, Same Problems

Continuity of Combat Casualty Care: The Case for Immediate Technological Improvement
Forum: Unraveling the Brain in Trauma and in Health Sep. 16, 2008

Van Wedeen, MD:

Marilyn Kraus, MD:
University of Illinois at Chicago

Mapping Brain Connectivity with Diffusion MRI

The Role of Diffusion Tensor Imaging in Traumatic Brain Injury

Forum: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Diagnosis & Therapy Apr. 1, 2008

Ross Zafonte, DO: Spaulding Rehab Hospital; MGH; CIMIT

Roger Pitman, MD: MGH

Traumatic Brain Injury Clinical Trials from the Past for the Future

Neurological Soft Signs in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Traumatic Brain Injury Symposium entitled: Clinical Management and Advanced Treatment for Closed Head Injury Nov. 15, 2007

Ross Zafonte, DO: Spaulding Rehab Hospital; MGH; CIMIT

Lee Schwamm, MD, MGH

Press release: CIMIT, TATRC co-host successful symposium on TBI
Forum: Researchers Focus on Shock and Recovery Oct. 16, 2007 Carl Hauser, MD, FACE, FCCM; BIDMC, HMS

Alfred Ayala, PhD; Rhode Island Hospital, Brown University

Wolfgang Junger, PhD; BIDMC, HMS
Post-Resuscitation Injury - Translational Approaches to Cell Signaling in Shock and Resusciation

• Neutrophil Calcium Signaling in Shock and Trauma

• The Role of Systemic Immune Cell Signaling in Whole Body Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury

• Autocrine Regulation of Immune Cell Function

• Translational Application of Cell Signaling Biology to the Care of Sick Patients
CIMIT Summer Education Series 2007 Jul. 10,
Christopher Moore, PhD; MIT

Leigh Hochberg, MD, PhD; Brown
University, VA, HMS, MGH

Neurotechnology: Translating Basic Discoveries into
Clinical Promise

• Deciphering Cortical
Electrophysiological Signals
and their Applications
for Brain-Body Interfaces

Forum: Doctors Discuss Challenges of Traumatic Brain Injury May 22, 2007 Lee Schwamm, MD; MGH, HMS, MIT

Marc de Moya, MD; MGH, HMS

Mel Glenn, MD; Spaulding
• Acute and Chronic Consequences of Traumatic Brain Injury

• A New Model of Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
Forum: Researchers Discuss Advances in Battlefield Medicine May 8, 2007 Col. Geoffrey Ling, MD, PhD; DARPA, Walter Reed, Johns Hopkins

Michael Callahan, MD, BTN & H, MSPH; DARPA
• Trauma Care and Soldier Performance
Forum: Experts Discuss Mass Casualty Incident Response Apr. 24, 2007 Sandy Bogucki, MD, PhD; Yale, US Dept. of Health & Human Services

Sheri Markwardt

Harvey Mudd
• Decoding Cortical Electrophysiology for the Detection of Seizures

Mark Pollack, MDProgram Leader
Terence Keane, PhD

Program Leader,
Traumatic Stress Disorders

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What are Deployment- and Combat-Related Stress Disorders?

Deployment- or combat-related stress is a debilitating condition that often follows a terrifying physical or emotional event that causes the person who survived the event to have persistent, frightening thoughts and memories, or flashbacks, of the ordeal. Examples of events that can trigger deployment- and combat-related stress are serious accidents, natural disasters, man-made tragedies, violent personal attacks and military combat.

First brought to public attention by war veterans and once referred to as "shell shock" or "battle fatigue,” deployment- and combat-related stress often is described as making an individual feel chronically emotionally numb. People with deployment- and combat-related stress experience extreme emotional, mental, and physical distress when exposed to situations that remind them of the traumatic event. Some may repeatedly relive the trauma in the form of nightmares and disturbing recollections during the day. Other common symptoms of deployment- and combat-related stress are sleep problems, irritability, violent outbursts, difficulty working or socializing, depression, lack of interest in activities, difficulty showing affection.

Many people with deployment- and combat-related stress respond well to treatment. Specific treatments are based on age, overall health, medical history, extent of the disease, personal opinions and preferences and expectations for the course of the disorder. Treatment generally consists of ongoing counseling and support for the individual and the family, medication to relieve or eliminate specific symptoms and various other techniques and therapies, including some promising treatments that are currently under investigation.



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