Doctors are seeing early signs of cognitive decline among the first responders and at a rate that is far higher than among the general population of a similar age. Brain scans have also revealed neuro degeneration and a brain age that is 10 years older than their physical age.
Those who have struggled with their health, and especially if they have suffered from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as a result, are in the highest risk category, say researchers from Stony Brook University.
Toxic materials at Ground Zero and psychological stress in the 20 years since the attack have put the first responders at risk, the researchers say. MRI scans of 276 first responders have shown brain degeneration that is similar to that seen in Alzheimer's and dementia patients. The average age of the people scanned was 55, but their brains were often those of someone 10 years older.