LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The University of Arkansas for Medical Science moves forward with a new study to help child abuse victims get the treatment they need to recover.
The hospital received a little more than $400,000 grant from the National Institute for Mental Health. It's a tough get doctors say, given the institute, on average, grants 17 percent of funding requests.
This is a study doctors at UAMS say has never been done before, specifically with its target area. The study will work with 45 adolescent girls, ages 11 to 16, and girls who've either been physically or sexually abused.
We got a rare look at the scanning machine Wednesday that will look at the girls' brains before and after a 12-session cognitive therapy treatment. The girls will be shown pictures of neutral and fearful facial expressions while researchers monitor brain reactions and see if the treatment is working or not.
To get a better idea of that, Dr. Cisler says there's a part of a brain called the left amygdala. The area detects human emotions. The doctor leading this new study tells us that the brighter red that area turns in the scan after the treatment, the more a victim is still holding on to the trauma from their assault. And in that case, doctors will work on alternative treatments to help the victims and work toward a better fit.
"What we're trying to understand is how does treatment work for adolescent post traumatic street disorder and for those girls who it's not going to work for, can we identify who they are before the treatment and can we develop a treatment that is more tailored to what they need," Dr. Cisler said.
Dr. Cisler hopes to begin this research later this summer and cover the 45 girls from the Little Rock area over two years. The hospital is just beginning the recruitment for the study and getting referrals from child advocacy groups and clinics. But we're also told that the study is open to the general public. For more information, call (501) 526-8386. The head research coordinator is Sonet Smitherman. You can click on this link for the hospital.
Dr. Cisler also says the 12-session treatment part of the study is free and participants can be compensated for time and for travel costs.