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By MIA DE GRAAF

  • Stony Brook runs 2nd largest center for 9/11 responders in the US
  • The center has monitored more than 800 of the 33,000 rescue workers
  • They found a direct link between their PTSD and early brain degeneration 
  • Those who most frequently relived the events had worse symptoms 

An unprecented study has explored the devastating impact the 9/11 attacks had on rescue workers’ brains.

The new research by Stony Brook University confirms the connection between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

It focused specifically on those who helped with search, rescue and cleanup efforts following the 2001 World Trade Center attacks.

Of the 800 first-responders surveyed, with an average of 53, more than 100 showed early signs of brain degeneration that could lead to Alzheimer’s.

Ten had signs of early onset dementia.

Those who most frequently re-lived that devastating day in their mind were more likely to develop symptoms of brain degeneration, the study authors reported.

The research, published in the Journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, suggests thousands more rescuers who were not involved in the study could be at risk of developing brain diseases.

During the World Trade Center attacks, responders who helped in search, rescue, and recovery endured an array of traumatic and toxic exposures.

According to the study authors, one-fifth of these individuals subsequently developed PTSD.

In July 2002, the CDC initiated a monitoring and treatment program for WTC responders, spanning five clinical centers.

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