November 10, 2017
1 min read

9/11 responders with PTSD more likely to have physical disabilities

You've successfully added to your alerts. You will receive an email when new content is published.

Click Here to Manage Email Alerts

We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact

Sean A. P. Clouston

PTSD was associated with a greater risk for functional limitations among World Trade Center responders, according to recent findings.

“We are interested in understanding the experiences of the World Trade Center responders, who were exposed to severe and traumatic exposures on Sept. 11, 2001,” Sean A. P. Clouston, PhD, of Stony Brook University, told “This study emerged out of an interest in understanding how these responders are aging, and whether the responders are at increased risk of aging-related disorders because of their experiences.”

To assess implications of chronic PTSD among responders to the World Trade Center attacks, researchers administered the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) to 1,268 rescue workers, volunteers and other responders who participated in response, recovery and cleanup efforts at the World Trade Center in New York after the Sept. 11 attacks. Data were linked to diagnostic and longitudinal data from the World Trade Center monitoring study.

Overall, 16% of the cohort had functional limitations.

After controlling for predisposing factors, trauma severity, behavioral factors and World Trade Center-related medical conditions, current PTSD was associated with a twofold increased risk for functional limitations (adjusted RR = 2.11; 95% CI, 1.48-3.01).

Exposure to ergonomic risk factors at the World Trade Center increased risk for functional impairments (aRR = 1.34; 95% CI, 1.05-1.7).

Longitudinal findings indicated participants with current functional limitations experienced high baseline PTSD severity and increasing PTSD symptom severity since Sept. 11, 2001.

“The results highlighted that World Trade Center responders with PTSD and those who were strained by World Trade Center exposures are already having difficulties with mobility. This is clinically important because it implies an increased potential for long-term implications of the disaster, since the measures used are commonly associated with increased risk of physical disability, brain aging, and death,” Clouston said. “However, it may also suggest interventions since physical functioning can be improved through interventions improving physical activity.” – by Amanda Oldt

Disclosures: Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.