We are currently enrolling participants in two free treatment programs designed for individuals who witnessed the attacks of September 11, 2001. This includes survivors, disaster workers, and individuals who witnessed the attacks from a distance. The treatment consists of 12 sessions each lasting approximately 75 minutes. It employs the use of traditional elements of trauma treatment including the teaching of skills useful in addressing disturbing symptoms as well as virtual reality treatment.
The virtual reality treatment of these symptoms combines traditional exposure therapy with computer graphic images that aid in the reenactment of that day. Traditional exposure therapy involves having the patient retell their experiences of that day, while offering other behavioral and cognitive coping techniques. The virtual reality treatment incorporates all of these aspects into its treatment, while utilizing a virtual world that helps engage the patient through their senses of sight and hearing.
During the virtual reality treatment, the individual is shown 11 different computer graphic scenes recreating the experience of September 11th. The scenes range from a plane flying past the first tower, to a reenactment of two planes hitting both towers and their collapses, accompanied by realistic sound effects. Each scene is viewed through the 3-D headset that responds to the patient's head movements. The patient progresses through the scenes in a gradual fashion, ensuring that they will not become overwhelmed. The therapist watches the scenes from a computer screen as the patient retells their personal experience.
In the DCS program, each participant is randomly assigned to a DCS or Placebo group. The participant takes a low dose of the medication or a placebo prior to the virtual reality sessions, which may help in the improvement of symptoms. The Virtual Reality Research Program contains the aforementioned elements without medication.