9/11 PTSD And Early Dementia In Victims

January 31, 2023
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HomeBlog9/11 PTSD And Early Dementia In Victims

Two people suffering 9/11 dust exposure holding hands

Thousands of first responders and victims of 9/11 toxic dust exposure have post-traumatic stress disorder. Considering the ordeal that firefighters, police officers, contractors, volunteers, and people from lower Manhattan lived through, it is not surprising that many people suffer from PTSD. According to researchers from Stony Brook University, what is surprising is the number of patients who show signs of cognitive impairment at such an early age – and who also have PTSD. Researchers say that their findings in PTSD patients who are suffering from dementia are worse off than first responders who are experiencing cognitive decline, but who do not have PTSD.

The study that was completed by physicians and researchers at Stony Brook University reached three stunning conclusions. First, researchers found that a large number of first responders are only now suffering from newly onset cognitive impairment. This cohort of first responders had a normal cognitive baseline when they were tested in 2014. The researchers were shocked at the rapid decline that many first responders have since experienced. Sadly, the average age of the participants is 56.

Second, the researchers determined that first responders who were previously diagnosed with PTSD have a greater chance of experiencing cognitive decline. They noted that a PTSD patient experienced cognitive decline at twice the rate of a first responder who was not previously diagnosed with PTSD. The researchers believe this evidence proves that PTSD is more than a psychological disease and that it can wreak havoc on the body’s pathology.

Finally, the study uncovered a link between first responders who had a particular genetic marker and the amount of time they spent working at the World Trade Center crash site. The study found that the more hours a first responder worked at Ground Zero—with the genetic marker suspected to cause dementia and Alzheimer’s disease—the greater the chance he or she will now suffer from more advanced cognitive impairment.

These findings are the collective starting point for researchers who now need to determine whether they have uncovered a new cognitive disease. Three-dimensional (3D) brain imaging and other testing showed that changes in the test subjects’ white brain matter are consistent with a neurodegenerative disease, according to a report on the recently published study. The testing does not, however, allow the researchers to diagnose the subjects with a particular cognitive illness.

Generally, first responders who suffer from the neurodegenerative disease do not have access to the healthcare they need. According to an article published by The Washington Post, the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) does not cover victims of 9/11 toxin exposure who suffer from cognitive ailments.

The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP)

The WTCHP, established by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, provides necessary care and preventative treatments to all of those who were exposed to 9/11 toxins. The program will admit a person if he or she has a covered condition and can show that they were exposed to toxins in the New York City Exposure Zone. First responders can certainly prove that they worked in the New York City Exposure Zone. Unfortunately, the WTCHP does not currently recognize neurodegenerative diseases as presumptively caused by the 9/11 toxic dust exposure. The program does, however, admit people who have PTSD.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health—which is the agency that runs the WTCHP—must add cognitive diseases to the list of covered medical conditions. The agency has a committee that reviews data to find a link between 9/11 toxin exposure and various diseases. The agency will add a disease to covered conditions if there is a substantial likelihood that can be causally related to 9/11 toxin exposure. In other words, this will be added once it has been established that there is no other explanation as to why the patient has the illness.

Without help from the WTCHP, families who have loved ones that suffer from dementia will have to bear the burden alone. Hopefully, physicians can persuade the WTCHP to include cognitive diseases as a covered condition, because researchers fear the worst is yet to come. There is no way to determine how many first responders and others who were exposed to 9/11 toxins will develop neurodegenerative diseases in the coming years.

You May Be Eligible For Compensation if You are a Victim of 9/11 Toxin Exposure

The 9/11 lawyers from Pitta & Baione have won over $300 million for their clients—all of whom are victims of 9/11 toxin exposure. Were you exposed to the toxic air in the days and months following the attacks of September 11? Pitta & Baione can help you apply for coverage from the WTCHP and then file a claim with the Victim Compensation Fund, so that you can recover the financial compensation you deserve. Contact us today by calling 844-596-1441 or by visiting our website for more information.