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Clinical trial completed on new PTSD treatment technology

May 14, 2012
by News release
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At Ease USA, a Nebraska organization dedicated to providing confidential post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) care for military families, has launched a clinical trial of a promising new therapeutic intervention at Creighton University.

The Creighton University study is the first trial in the United States, and one of only two trials in the world, testing the effectiveness of Attention Bias Modification Therapy (ABMT) for PTSD. It is a straightforward, noninvasive, computerized program, making it a desirable alternative to existing therapies for PTSD.

In this new clinical trial at Creighton University, lead investigator Psychology Professor Amy Badura Brack, PhD, who received a $100,000 grant from At Ease USA and the Robert B. Daugherty Foundation for this research, will examine the therapeutic impact of ABMT in soldiers who suffer from PTSD.

The study will evaluate changes in PTSD symptoms and severity before and after ABMT and monitor the brain using new cutting edge technology to understand how improvements in psychological function arise. The At Ease USA project team will contribute its results to the international ABMT database in hopes of validating this new treatment.

Omaha-area veterans from the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are being recruited to participate in this study. Veterans who are doing well and veterans who are experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress are invited to participate. Participants will be financially compensated for their time.

Attention Bias Modification Treatment was developed by Yair Bar-Haim, PhD, a professor of psychology and neuroscience and head of the School of Psychological Sciences at Tel Aviv University. Bar-Haim spearheads an international collaboration between Tel Aviv University and the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, MD, which evaluated the efficacy of ABMT for severe anxiety disorders. He spoke at Creighton University in April when the study was announced.

Badura Brack and colleague Maya Khanna, PhD, from Creighton University will team with Tony Wilson, PhD, of the Department of Pharmacology & Experimental Neuroscience at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, who will oversee the application of magnetoencephalography, or MEG technology. MEG imaging is generally considered the most advanced test of human brain function in the world.

The Nebraska Medical Center's MEG facility is one of only about 20 in the United States. Results from the MEG testing will enhance scientific understanding of PTSD through superior visualization of brain function in hopes of improving treatment for post-traumatic stress.

The MEG provides three-dimensional, real time images showing activity in specific regions of participants' brains. With ABMT treatment it is expected researchers will see decreased activity in the brain centers believed to be responsible for symptoms of PTSD.

Scott Anderson, director of At Ease USA, said he hopes this research can contribute to the eventual creation of an internet-based ABMT treatment process that will allow military families to access safe and effective PTSD care from their home computers.

Such therapeutic tools would help provide military families with complete confidentiality and anonymity throughout the treatment process, and allow them to sidestep the stigma that prevents many from revealing their condition to another human being.

"We are honored to continue Bar-Haim's exciting work and are grateful for the cooperation and expertise of Creighton University, The Nebraska Medical Center and the University of Nebraska Medical Center," Anderson said. "ABMT may not be a silver bullet. But if the trial leads to giving clients access to economical, effective online treatment in the privacy of their homes, we can remove a huge obstacle to receiving PTSD care."

At Ease USA is a group of Omaha-area citizens committed to providing confidential trauma treatment and therapeutic support to active military, veterans and their loved ones. No one is turned away based upon an inability to pay. At Ease USA complements existing services offered by military and veterans organizations, with a focus on the elimination of barriers to treatment for those suffering from the effects of deployment and the uncertainty of war.

At Ease USA is a volunteer organization raising awareness and funding to support the Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska At Ease program, which manages and provides the behavioral health services. The organizations collaborate closely regarding program direction and administration through a contractual agreement.

Those interested in participating in this paid study should contact Amy Badura Brack at or (402) 280-1229.

More information about the study and the MEG machine can be found at searching key words Creighton and PTSD, and by visiting and