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As a foster parent, you may wish that you could understand PTSD better. Why do some forms of traumatic stress create such long lasting effects in children and teens? A recent study using 3D technology provides some new answers.

Summary of Post Traumatic Stress Study:

Researchers at Duke University found that the brain reacts differently to stress depending on how close it occurs. When it’s far away, the areas of the brain responsible for problem solving become activated. However, when a threat is too close up, it engages the limbic and mid brain areas. In that case, Instead of thinking your way out of a situation and coping, you’re more likely to develop long lasting threat memories and related stress.

3D technology created the opportunity to see this brain activity for the first time. The subjects in the study were given something like an IMAX movie experience, using 3D glasses and MRI machines while exposing them to threat avatars at different distances.

What it Means for Foster Parents and PTSD in Children and Teens:

The researchers also discussed how the threat avatars in the study might compare to real life events. Patients with PTSD have often experienced events like physical assaults or witnessed violence close up. If you’re caring for a foster child with PTSD, this may give you more insight into what they’re going through. Your foster child may also benefit from knowing that there is a physical basis for their symptoms, especially if they tend to blame themselves or feel like they’re different from other children. Finally, research like this can help lead to more effective treatments for PTSD in children and adults. For example, future studies are likely to focus on PTSD and the cerebellum

Pathway Family Services is devoted to the strength of family. Contact us if you are interested in learning more about specialized foster care, psychiatric residential treatment, and independent living.