Let Us Never Forget

Angie Szumlinski News

Every one of us remembers where we were when the World Trade Center was struck by not one, but two commercial airline planes on 9-11. As a popular country singer put it, “the world stopped turning,” everyone was in a state of shock and disbelief. Everyone but the first responders that is. These brave men and women never hesitated, they showed up and did what they are trained to do – save lives. Many of these heroes lost their lives during the carnage while others fought long battles of illness only to succumb years later. May we remember them, thank them, and pray we never experience another event like 9-11. 

To add insult to injury, researchers assessed the brains of 99 World Trade Center responders with cognitive impairment, using diffusion tractography, a 3D imaging technique, and found that those with cognitive impairment and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), have a different presentation of the white matter in their brains compared to responders with cognitive impairment without PTSD. 

So, what does this mean? Basically, there needs to be more research, however, the study shows that dementia due to PTSD is clearly different from non-PTSD dementia in this first responder population. Could this impact how we provide care to our residents living with dementia? Might our approach be different considering the PTSD component? Maybe, it is something that was never thought of before but could impact how we care for these residents, not dissimilar to trauma-informed care. Take a few minutes to investigate the background of your residents living with dementia, surely 9-11 isn’t the only cause of PTSD and cognitive impairment. Circle back to your trauma-informed care training, see if changes in your approach makes a difference for even one resident. Stay well and stay informed!