Josh Wyngaarden: My Dad did 22 years active
duty and in the Air Force and we lived all over the world traveling around and it’s
just really all I ever knew, and I knew I wanted to serve in that way especially being
in high school when 9/11 happened. And so I went to the Air Force Academy for four years
and that led to my commission. after shadowing physical therapy, I kind of
decided that this is the path that’s best for what I enjoyed. And so, I was fortunate
enough to go to the Army-Baylor program after the Air Force Academy. After that, I was selected to go to South
Korea for a year. Brian Noehren: Yeah, so Josh emailed me and
it was a unique email because it came from South Korea. He explained how he was currently
on deployment and that he had recently been accepted into the Department of Defense’s
program to go back and receive his PhD, but there was one catch. He only had three years
and that was something he was really up front about. Josh Wyngaarden: But a number of the schools
I called they just said, “It’s impossible.” Brian Noehren: We’ve had other people from
the military who’ve come back to the University of Kentucky and particularly into the College
Health Sciences who have been very successful, who’ve done it in three years. So I knew there
was a track record. So I came up with this idea that even though he was not formally
enrolled in our program yet, that we could start having FaceTime meetings together with
him in South Korea and myself here in Kentucky. With the time difference, that either meant
that one of us was up early the morning or late at night. He was able to come and hit
the ground running. Josh Wyngaarden: Within six weeks or so I
had my first draft of my IRB submitted and I was already starting collecting data by
December of my first year. It was stressful at times trying to balance all of the patients
and course work and all this just daily student requirements, but I’m really thankful for it. In San Antonio in the early stages of my career,
we did a rotation at the Center for the Intrepid. That’s where a lot of the wounded warriors
go after they’re injured in Iraq or Afghanistan. A lot of these guys did really poorly understandably
because of the trauma of the injury, but also just the psychological influence of seeing
their best friends injured or killed in action. And so, that’s kind of what my dissertation
is, is looking at those psychosocial factors early on after injury that influence who develops
chronic pain and disability. So I have recruited a 122 people to participate
in the study. We’ve tracked everybody through six months so far and the most consistent
predictor of who’s going to have really bad pain and physical function outcomes at
6 months is self-efficacy. Basically the person’s confidence that they can work through an injury,
their belief that they can kind of return to full activity despite the circumstances
that they have been presented with. Brian Noehren: He’s taken individuals who
have had a traumatic injury and tracked the development of chronic pain over the years.
So his work is really applicable to the military, but it’s also very applicable to the Commonwealth.
Orthopedic injuries, there’s about a 50% conversion rate to developing chronic pain and to the
use of opioids. So Josh’s work will give us really important insights for non-pharmacological
treatments that we can administer to people before they develop chronic pain both in the
military and outside the military. Josh Wyngaarden: I’ll defend next Spring
and then it’s looking like I’ll be going to the Army-Baylor physical therapy program
to teach and do research. I will definitely be continuing collaborating with Dr. Noehren
and Dr. Matuszewski. Brian Noehren: Dr. Matuszewski in orthopedic
surgery and myself were involved in the consortium called, “metric sized traumatic injuries
within the military and outside of the military.” Having Josh here, having an actual service
member who’s treated individuals wounded in combat, has just been really important
for us. The military system of medicine is different than the civilian. And so, that
kind of cross-pollination of ideas. I think it’s been really enriching for our undergraduate
students as well as with our graduate students. Josh Wyngaarden: You know when you are in
the military setting, you’re leading of bunch of really solid people, but it’s a
different scenario than when I get to study full time. It will be good to go back, but
it’s also going to be kind of sad to say bye to UK. Brian Noehren: You know we push people in
our labs to really take risks and to try new and bold ideas and he definitely has done
that. His work is certainly on the cusp of providing some really important insights into
a very vexing multimodal problem. So I’m for one really excited to see the results and
see his future career trajectory. He’s on track to do some amazing things both inside
and outside of the military.

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