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The Synchrony Program at Houston Methodist is the first program in the United States designed to treat “operator syndrome” — a unique set of physical and mental health conditions seen in members of special operations forces. The program offers an immersive outpatient experience for retired special operations forces and members of the intelligence community who were embedded with special operations forces.


Operator syndrome starts with traumatic brain injury (TBI) — these operators are exposed to more blast waves during demolition training and on deployments than average active duty military personnel. In this unique group of patients, TBI can lead to a host of physical and mental health conditions that in turn affect the operators’ relationships with family and how they transition to civilian life.


In addition to TBI, symptoms of operator syndrome include:


  • Hormonal disturbances
  • Sleep apnea and other sleep disturbances (often caused by feeling “on guard” at all times and nightmares)
  • Chronic headaches
  • Chronic back and joint pain
  • Alcohol and substance abuse
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Emotional disturbances (anger, excessive worrying)
  • Marital and family issues
  • Sexual health issues
  • Memory, concentration, and cognitive impairments
  • Vestibular and vision changes
  • Difficulty transitioning to civilian life
  • Existential issues (difficulty planning long-term, grief, survivor’s guilt, fear of being the next to commit suicide)


Operators who enter the program spend two weeks undergoing intense therapeutic assessment including physical, cognitive and addictions assessments. By the end of the two weeks, a comprehensive plan will be in place to treat every aspect of their health and functioning.


For more information, call 346.238.2040.