LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – Firefighters can feel the effects of strenuous days on the job while serving the community. Two University of Kentucky Rehabilitation and Health Sciences Ph.D. students are using what they’ve learned to help out in any way they can.

Capt. Nick Bodkin of the Lexington Fire Department has gotten to know UK graduate students Jake Jelmini and Jen Tinsley quite well. Both of them work with firefighters like Bodkin to make sure they stay healthy by using their backgrounds in traditional athletic training.

“I came in with quite a few little issues that have accumulated from over 16 years on the fire service from the job. Getting in here and helping work through some of those issues and getting better not just recovering from them but actually getting stronger to avoid future issues has been great,” Bodkin said.

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These students do this to help prevent, diagnose, and treat injuries by firefighters. At the same time, they gather much-needed research. Both Jelmini and Tinsely say between getting to know these firefighters personally while getting valuable hands-on experience is a win-win.

“You get to know every firefighter on a very personal level, and I think that’s one of the cool things to do because you see them out in the community, you run into them and you just know you’re good friends with them,” Jelmini said.

“I grew up in kind of an environment that dealt with a lot of first responders. My mom was a paramedic, and I married into a police family. So, it hits close to home for me,” Tinsley added.

The two handle everything from everyday aches and pains to more complex musculoskeletal disorders. The firefighters are coming in five days a week Monday through Friday free of charge. While essential research is gathered, another goal is to target any health problems early on.

“A lot of our options here with our athlete training services is to try to tend to those so that it doesn’t become potentially something more acute or something that could be very impactful and detrimental, both as a physical nature, but also to the department as a whole,” Jelmini said.

Tinsley said it’s a great experience to have yet another form of partnership with the fire department.

“I loved what I did when I was in traditional athletics and serving in a traditional athletic training role, and this just kind of adds the cherry on top for me personally because it hits so close to home,” Tinsley said.