PTSD in First Responders

Biometric Telehealth: An Innovative Solution for First Responders with PTSD

Paramedics, EMTs, police officers, firefighters, and rescue workers are the first to respond to emergencies. The scene of critical incidents often involves exposure to life- threatening situations, frightening events, and stressful experiences. These experiences can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among first responders.

The most common symptoms of PTSD are nightmares and flashbacks of distressing events. PTSD can also cause physical symptoms such as chronic pain, sweating, jitteriness, headaches, dizziness, and chest pain. Other PTSD symptoms include irritability, angry outbursts, sleep problems, and difficulty concentrating. 1
Because PTSD can cause such a wide range of symptoms, the treatment for this condition needs to be multi-pronged.

The biopsychosocial model practiced at the Institutes of Health is an evidence-based interdisciplinary program that helps first responders receive comprehensive treatment for PTSD. An alternative to on-site clinic care at IOH is our Biometric Telehealth platform, an advanced remote treatment solution that allows first responders to receive effective PTSD treatment in the comfort of their homes or elsewhere as needed. In this article, we will talk about the prevalence and consequences of PTSD in first responders and how biometric telehealth can help.

How common is PTSD among first responders?

More than 80 percent of first responders experience traumatic events on the job. 3 And because they face challenging and dangerous situations, first responders are at a high risk of developing PTSD as a work-related injury or condition. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), roughly 1 in 3 first responders develop PTSD. 2 In comparison, the incidence of PTSD in the general population is 1 in 5 people. According to one study, PTSD is present in approximately: 4

• 15% of emergency personnel (paramedics)
• 13% of rescue teams
• 7% of firefighters
• 5% of police officers

In absolute numbers, an estimated 400,000 first responders in America have at least some symptoms of PTSD. 3

What are the consequences of PTSD in first responders?

Did you know that nearly 37 percent of EMS personnel and firefighters in the US have contemplated suicide at some point in their lives? This is nearly 10 times the rate in average Americans. 2
The symptoms of PTSD can make it difficult for emergency workers to do their job properly. First responders with PTSD sometimes experience emotional numbing and avoidance, leading to strained relationships with friends and family.

Some of the other devastating consequences of PTSD in first responders include:

• Mental health problems like depression and anxiety
• Problematic alcohol use or substance abuse
• Suicidal ideation

The clinical picture can be further complicated by the presence of chronic pain and opioid dependence or chronic pain and depression. Many patients with PTSD suffer
from chronic pain and weight gain. Also common is chronic pain and sleep problems among PTSD patients.

Barriers to Care

PTSD is a debilitating condition that affects first responders at a disproportionately higher rate.

Yet, several barriers prevent first responders from receiving proper care for PTSD, including:

• Cost of treatment
• Transportation to clinic
• Difficulty getting time off work
• Lack of availability of effective PTSD treatments
• Stigma associated with seeking help
• Fear of job repercussions

Biometric telehealth is an innovative health solution that can help first responders overcome these barriers to pain treatment and comprehensive medical care.

Biometric Telehealth: Confidential Online Treatment for PTSD

First responders are at the frontlines of any incident or disaster. They work tirelessly to ensure the safety of the general population. Due to the nature of the work, first responders frequently suffer workers’ compensation injuries. Unfortunately, first responders don’t always receive proper treatment for incapacitating conditions like PTSD, fibromyalgia, CRPS, and RSD, among others. Even when treatment is available, first responders often fail to return to work after standard PTSD treatment because it simply isn’t effective.

Biometric Telehealth is an advanced technology that can help first responders with PTSD get the treatment they desperately need. This telehealth platform is much more than a simple video consultation. It is a comprehensive remote treatment platform that makes the patient-physician interaction an immersive experience. It replicates the PTSD functional restoration program offered in clinic at the Institutes of Health.

For first responders with PTSD, some of the reasons that make Biometric Telehealth care the treatment of choice are:

• It’s easier to access evidence-based comprehensive treatment.
• It’s cost-effective and doesn’t require travel to doctor’s office or clinic
• It allows the patient to receive timely treatment and continuity of care.
• It’s confidential and private. No one at work needs to know you’re getting help.

  • Relearning day-to-day skills 
  • Cognitive rehabilitation 
  • Vestibular rehabilitation 
  • Vocational rehabilitation 
  • Psychotherapy 
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 
  • Medication management 
  • EEG-based neurofeedback for mindfulness and meditation 
  • Rehab movement therapy 
  • Physical therapy 
  • Occupational therapy 

Speech therapy

Biometric Telehealth: A Holistic Approach to PTSD Treatment 

At Institutes of Health, we use a state-of-the-art Biometric Telehealth platform to recreate what we do in our brick and mortar clinic. Our treatment approach to PTSD is based on an evidence-based, interdisciplinary biopsychosocial model. This model addresses the underlying mechanisms that produce the symptoms of PTSD. It is a multi-pronged approach that gives first responders with PTSD the best chance of recovery, stay-at-work and/or return to work. 

What can I expect from the biometric telehealth program? 

An evidence-based biopsychosocial model delivers powerful outcomes in the treatment of complex conditions like PTSD. The clinical program focuses on developing self- management, where you, the patient, are an equal participant in the healing process along with your physicians and healthcare team. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce your subjective symptoms and improve function and quality of life. The telehealth program recreates this care through a remote care solution. 

The immersive biometric telehealth program for first responders with PTSD is designed to provide treatment conveniently and privately. If you are unable to attend the program in clinic, you can access our expert team of clinicians, irrespective of your geographical location. 

The Institutes of Health is an industry leader in Immersive Biometric Telehealth. We offer a full range of telehealth services including comprehensive chronic pain rehabilitation, medication management, treatment for brain injuries, sleep problems and neuropsychological evaluations. Talk to us today to learn more about our Biometric Telehealth platform for PTSD.

References:
1. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/symptoms/
2. https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/dtac/supplementalresearchbulletin-firstresponders-may2018.pdf
3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1359178918302416?via%3Dihub
4. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0145445517725048