9/11 First Responders and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
“Working with first responders gives you a sense of the tremendous amount of sacrifice that patients or people do. When people act heroically, we are thankful, but we don’t realize that when people are doing those things, they are losing something.”
― Dr. Benjamin Luft, director of the World Trade Center Health Program at Stony Brook University.
The above quote is from an article written by Cindy Mizaku for The Statesman. The last words of the quote: “…when people are doing those things, they are losing something…” are all too true for those who answered the call on September 11, 2001. Many of these heroes are losing something. Some have been afflicted with a 9/11-related cancer. Others have been diagnosed with sarcoidosis, which is an interstitial lung disease. The list of ailments and diagnoses goes on. And there is another condition that Dr. Benjamin Luft and a team of researchers at Stony Brook University are currently focusing on, and which is the topic of Ms. Mizaku’s article: 9/11 related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and how it may lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. It should be noted that the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, through the James Zadroga Act, unfortunately does not give any compensation settlements to first responders who only have been diagnosed with PTSD.
Along with the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP), the WTC Wellness Program at Stony Brook University offers medical treatment and health care to first responders who have been suffering from PTSD as a result of their time spent at Ground Zero. This work has inspired a research study, led by Dr. Sean Clouston, an assistant professor at Stony Brook. The subjects of this study are 34 first responders who served during and after the 9/11 attacks. These subjects have been followed and monitored every year since 2002 for the purpose of determining the possibility of who might or might not develop PTSD. Half of them, unfortunately, were found to have symptoms associated with this condition. And PTSD, among other issues, can cause accelerated aging. People diagnosed with this disorder suffer everything from memory loss to a decline in motor skills. Because of this, the psychological and physical effects of PTSD require equal attention. But how to determine who will be affected?
The “visible” symptoms associated with PTSD includes seeing a patient relive disturbing memories that trigger physiological distress. Then there are “invisible” symptoms which can be uncovered through blood analysis, which is used to gauge if neurons in the brain have been adversely affected (neurodegeneration). One significant point of this concerns beta-amyloid, a protein which builds up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, and is strongly connected to PTSD. Sadly, higher levels of beta-amyloid have been discovered in some of the first responder subjects. While there is no way to reverse any degeneration of brain cells, there is some possibility the process can be at least slowed through medical intervention if detected early. Unfortunately, there is no cure. Only adjustments to provide some ease.
Were you, or someone you know, a first responder on September 11? Were you a worker or resident in Lower Manhattan on or after September 11? If you have been experiencing any psychological pain on account of PTSD or any other illness, you deserve a chance at receiving free hea lth care for your psychological conditions for the rest of your life. The 9/11 lawyers at Turley Hansen & Rosasco, LLP are ready to assist and help you. Call us TODAY at 1-855-416-7256.
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