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New PTSD treatment shows results without reliving trauma

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Dr. Carrie Elk Dr. Carrie Elk
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

There is a breakthrough treatment for military members suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that is showing profound results. 

Two initial studies out of the University of South Florida were so promising that now there is a national movement to treat military with a psycho therapy known as Accelerated Resolution Therapy or A.R.T.

"This is a real game changer, the suicide rate is climbing and we just can't wait any longer to treat our military members," said Dr. Carrie Elk.

Dr. Carrie Elk was a co-investigator in two separate studies out of USF alongside researchers at the University of South Florida College of Nursing.  The studies have shown that brief treatments with ART, substantially reduce symptoms associated with PTSD including depression, anxiety, sleep dysfunction and other physical and psychological symptoms.

ART involves back-and-forth eye movements, which Elk describes as similar to rapid eye moment (R.E.M.), and does not require a patient to talk about the trauma.  "My patients started seeing results after the first treatment and significant results after two or three sessions," Dr. Elk said.

Dr. Elk feels the reason many military members don't follow through with the current treatment being used by VA therapists is because it take 14 visits and involves talking about the traumatic incident.

"I didn't want to share my story with someone who doesn't understand, who could never understand my story," said Joshua Thomas, who suffered from severe PTSD after returning from his third tour overseas.  "I tried to get help but I just didn't want to relive what happened," said Thomas.

Josh's mother Jodi Harner heard about the study out of USF and encouraged her son to meet with Dr. Elk. "I figured what did he have to lose?" Harner said. After the first two treatments, Jodi Harner said she saw significant changes in her son.

" It was like he had a sigh of relief, he would laugh again, he was sleeping he was testing himself on things he could do," Harner said.  Josh added that after a few treatments he was even able to attend a fireworks display.

"A fireworks display, can you imagine?  I really want to thank Dr. Elk and I hope my story can help others," Thomas said.

The research is happening at M.A.T.T.E.R.S., Military Associated Trauma Treatment Education and Research services, which is headquartered in Tampa. 

To find out  how to become involved in the research or to help raise fund to help military suffering from P.T.S.D. visit www.mattersfoundation.org and watch the news segment airing on News Channel 8.

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