Program helps fire fighters cope with PTSD

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) The Warriors Research Institute at Baylor Scott and White has developed a program to help firefighters cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.

In this study the Warrior Research Institute pairs therapists with firefighters to conduct 12 to 16 therapy sessions.

All sessions are done through web camera called Tele Health versus your typical in person visits.

Director of the Warriors Research Institute Dr. Suzy Gulliver says she is surprised on how successful Tele Health has become.

“I was at first skeptic when I started to look into Tele Health because I thought it was important to have direct eye contact on a person,” Gulliver said.

“In our experience we found it’s not that important and we can reach people so much more efficiently and effectively in terms of cost time and availability through Tele Health.”

Firefighter and program participant Bryan Lueckenotte says he has enjoyed Tele Health more than in person visits.

“There is just some anxiety that comes with waiting in a waiting room,” Lueckenotte said.

Gulliver said Lueckenotte isn’t the only one who feels this way.

“We have found in our research that Tele Health patients have had better retention than those doing in person visits,” Gulliver said.

Lueckenotte says one of the reasons he finds this program special is because you can do therapy anywhere.

“A lot of times I would do therapy and be at home in my pajamas,” Lueckenotte said.

Through Tele Health they are able to reach more first responders across the state.

Gulliver says more than 20 percent of fire fighters suffer from PTSD and at least 40 percent develop a problematic drinking problem.

Therefore, there is a big need for therapy but many firefighters are worried about the stigma behind it.

Lueckenotte who has been serving as a firefighter for years says he hopes to change that stigma.

He says as a first responder you are exposed to a lot of traumatic events that are scaring and it’s important to seek therapy.

Lueckenotte says he tried several therapists and programs and nothing seemed to be helping him until he began treatment with the Warrior Research Institute.

“I've come along way and I am happy to say yes I am no longer at the cross roads, I’m on a path of healing every day and I know that every day is going to be a day I have to heal,” Lueckenotte said.

He says this program taught him skills he can use in his daily life to help cope with PTSD.

He also says because of this program he now has a better relationship with his wife and his son.

If you’d like more information on this program visit the Warrior Research Institute website.