Backed by a prestigious research award, a University of New Brunswick student is embarking on a study to determine how exercise can help soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Lieutenant Terry Fitzpatrick, a kinesiology student at UNB, has a deeply personal interest in the subject – he suffers from PTSD himself after a tour in Afghanistan a decade ago.
“I may never be cured,” says Mr. Fitzpatrick, “but as long as I am making life a little easier for myself and other soldiers to live with PTSD – that’s what’s important.”
Mr. Fitzpatrick’s proposed research towards his master’s degree focuses on the factors that enable and hinder soldiers suffering from PTSD from participating in physically active leisure and sport. His research will also focus on how sport and physically active leisure help soldiers combating post-traumatic stress disorder.
His proposal has attracted a national research award – $17,500 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
“Terry is one of the most accomplished, hard-working, self-motivated, and dedicated students I have worked with in my 15 years at UNB,” says Dr. Shannon-McCallum, a UNB kinesiology professor who will supervise the research. “But what I appreciate even more about Terry is that he so sincerely cares about others and is passionate about making a difference – including with his research. I’m really looking forward to sharing in his research journey.”
Mr. Fitzpatrick’s proposed research has stemmed from the lack of Canadian studies focusing on PTSD. His research will take a phenomenological approach to try to understand soldiers’ “lived experiences” to understand what they go through and their approach to physically active leisure and sport.
Mr. Ftizpatrick hopes to recruit solders from three Canadian Forces Bases including Gagetown, Petawawa and Edmonton. “I hope to gain a better understanding as to what other barriers and enablers that soldiers presently perceive in their lives that prevent them from engaging in physically active leisure and sport”, says Mr. Fitzpatrick, “or what enables them in participating”.
Mr. Fitzpatrick, who toured Afghanistan with the military in 2007 and is still serving in the Canadian Forces today, has earned attention for his commitment to his studies, to his community and to the field of kinesiology.
In 2016, he was named a Sir Howard Douglas Scholar at UNB for academic excellence and his contributions to community and he was saluted by Recreation NB for his contributions to the field of recreation in New Brunswick through volunteer activities, work experiences or studies.
“Terry is an extremely driven individual who has established ambitious goals in his personal, professional and academic life,” says Dean of Kinesiology Dr. Wayne Albert. “His military-based discipline contributes to his standard for high achievement. Terry also uses his academic talents to give back in the community, a trait that has made him a Sir Howard Douglas Scholar. I have a strong sense that the master’s degree will not be his terminal degree.”
Mr. Fitzpatrick is scheduled to start his research in September.
Photo: Lieutenant Terry Fitzpatrick UNB master’s student. (Rob Blanchard / UNB Photo)
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