Study seeks pas­sen­gers from flight that ran out of fuel over At­lantic

Cape Breton Post - - HEALTH FOCUS -

TORONTO (CP) — Re­searchers are putting out a call to pas­sen­gers who were on an Air Transat flight that al­most crashed in 2001 to take part in a study of peo­ple who have ex­pe­ri­enced a trau­matic event.

The Toronto-to-Lis­bon flight ran out of fuel over the At­lantic Ocean in late Au­gust 2001, but the pi­lots man­aged to glide to safety on a small is­land in the Azores.

One of the re­searchers, Dr. Mar­garet McKinnon, was on the flight, which car­ried 306 pas­sen­gers and crew, and she says the sick­en­ing feel­ing of “I’m go­ing to die” lasted for 30 min­utes as the plane’s sys­tems shut down and crew pre­pared pas­sen­gers for ditch­ing into the ocean.

“Imag­ine your worst night­mare — that’s what it was like,” McKinnon, who’s now part of the mood dis­or­ders pro­gram at St. Joseph’s Health­care Hamil­ton, said in a re­cent state­ment an­nounc­ing the study.

The work will be led by the Rot­man Re­search In­sti­tute at the Bay­crest Cen­tre for Geri­atric Care in Toronto, in part­ner­ship with the Uni­ver­sity of Toronto and McMaster Uni­ver­sity in Hamil­ton.

It’s be­ing de­scribed as the first study of its kind to in­volve a large group of peo­ple who all ex­pe­ri­enced the same trau­matic event un­der the same con­di­tions.

The goal is to bet­ter un­der­stand the brain cir­cuitry in­volved in re­liv­ing trau­matic events, emo­tions and mem­o­ries, and to gain in­sight into why some peo­ple are more sus­cep­ti­ble to post-trau­matic stress than oth­ers.

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