Groundbreaking study includes caregivers of injured law enforcement officers

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Submitted by Dr. Patricia Reyna

Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2023, marked the passing of 14 years since NC State Highway Patrol Master Trooper, Humberto Reyna, sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the line of duty. Kay, now a researcher at the Center on Brain Injury Research and Training (CBIRT) and Trooper Reyna’s wife, has taken care of him 24/7 ever since.

She knows firsthand TBI can happen in an instant and the toll it takes on the injured and on their families.

The media often reports injured law enforcement officers will survive their wounds; they do not report the lives of these officers may be changed forever.

Kay noted, “I knew my husband might die in the line of duty, but I never considered my husband may be catastrophically injured and require care for the rest of his life. I did not know there are few services for catastrophically injured LEOs in this country. I did not know or even consider there is a battle to obtain medical care needed after injury. Nor did I know there are few resources for the caregivers of these injured LEOs.

"I did not know that in the United States, there is a lack of research on injured LEOs and those that care for them. I did not know any of these things when my husband was injured. I soon found out. I have made it my life’s mission to put our injured law enforcement officers and those that care for them in the research; they deserve our best efforts. We need to pave the way for the support and interventions they and their families need post injury.”

Kay’s doctoral study was the first study of its kind in the United States to include caregivers of LEOs and caregivers of fire fighters with TBI. She investigated the efficacy of the online Family Web Traumatic Brain Injury Program to determine if knowledge, self-efficacy, and hope increased in caregivers after participating in the program intervention.

Study results showed statistically significant increases in knowledge and self-efficacy and a near statistical significant increase in hope. Dr. Reyna noted, “Increasing hope can be a life changer.”

While Kay’s doctoral research was ground-breaking and is soon to be published in a peer-reviewed academic journal, her current research includes documenting the lived experiences of injured law enforcement officers and other first responders in the US through the lens of the family caregiver.

Family caregivers including spouses, partners, adult children, other family members, friends, and peers who provide any care including emotional and social supports to a law enforcement officer, fire fighter, or emergency medical worker with TBI/concussion and/or any other injury are eligible to participate.

Study recruitment ends January 31.

To participate in this groundbreaking study, access the survey HERE.

Kay is also looking for like-minded researchers, grant opportunities, and financial supporters to make a difference in the lives of injured LEOs and their families across the country.

“Our LEO families across the country dealing with injury need our help. We cannot continue to yell at drowning people to save themselves. We must help them.” Dr. Patricia Kay Reyna

More about Dr. Reyna: Patricia Kay Reyna, EdD received her doctorate in Education, Organizational Leadership from Grand Canyon University, her MA in Entrepreneurship from Western Carolina University, and her MA in Christian Studies with an Emphasis in Christian Leadership from Grand Canyon University.

Her research interests include catastrophically injured law enforcement officers in the US including those with traumatic brain injury, prevalence of traumatic brain injury among law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and other first responders in the US, first responder suicide, and suicide prevention mediators including hope.

Kay’s research interests also focus on interventions for caregivers providing care for persons with traumatic brain injury. She has a special interest in caregivers providing care for injured law enforcement officers, an unserved population of caregivers in the United States, and on caregiver hope.

Kay has professional experience through non-profits focusing on injured law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and veterans and their caregivers. She is an ordained minister, certified Health Care Life Coach, and a Certified Spiritual Christian Counselor.

Additionally, Kay serves as a content expert for doctoral learners and is an Adjunct Professor. Her background includes a wide variety of education, non-profit, health care, caregiving, and ministry experience. Kay has authored several books available on Amazon.
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