Friday, December 10, 2004

War injuries spur $9m amputee fund [The Age]

War injuries spur $9m amputee fund
By Raja Mishra
December 10, 2004

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American troops injured in Iraq have required limb amputations at twice the rate of past wars, and as many as 20 per cent have suffered head and neck injuries that may require a lifetime of care.

New data on war wounds are the grisly flip side of improvements in battlefield medicine that have saved many combatants who would have died in the past: only one in 10 US troops injured in Iraq has died, the lowest rate of any war in US history.

But those who survive have much more grievous wounds. Bulletproof Kevlar vests protect soldiers' bodies, but not their limbs, as insurgent snipers and makeshift bombs tear off arms and legs and rip into faces and necks. More than half of those injured are wounded so badly that they cannot return to duty, according to Pentagon statistics.

Attention has focused on the more than 1000 soldiers killed in Iraq, but the Pentagon has released little information on the 9765 soldiers injured so far.

"The death rate isn't great compared to Vietnam, Korea, and World War II. But these soldiers are coming back to their communities and people are seeing just how high the price is that these young people are paying," said head and neck surgeon Richard Holt. Dr Holt works at the University of Texas Health Science Centre, in San Antonio. Also a retired US Army surgeon, he was a civilian adviser in Iraq this year.

AdvertisementData compiled by the US Senate - included in the 2005 defence appropriations bill in support of a request for increased funding for the care of amputees at Walter Reed Army Medical Centre - reveal that 6 per cent of those wounded in Iraq have required amputations, compared with 3 per cent for past wars. Brown Medical School's Roy Aaron said the medical system "literally cannot handle the load" of amputees.

Responding to the large number of amputations, scientists at Brown University, in Providence, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Wednesday announced a $US7.2 million ($A9.5 million) research program to design more functional prosthetic limbs. The Department of Veterans Affairs is paying for the work.

"Amputee research has never been a high priority because it's not . . . fashionable," Dr Aaron said. "Iraq has changed that."

The Brown-MIT research, which will not be ready for many years, will look at building better titanium prosthetic limbs and use computer technology to develop prosthetic devices that can be controlled by brain sensors implanted in patients.

In World War II, about 30 per cent of those wounded died, and in Vietnam, the figure was 24 per cent. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the mortality rate has been 10 per cent.

ยท Four US troops serving on an elite special operations task force in Iraq have been disciplined for abusing prisoners in Iraq, including unauthorised use of Taser electric-shock weapons.

- agencies


At 6:18 AM, Blogger nope said...


I'm sorry for being intrusive in to your blog. But I am Melissa and I am a mother of two that is just trying to get out of an incredible financial debt. See my hubby is away in Iraq trying to protect this great country that we live in, and I am at home with our two kids telling bill collectors please be patiant. When my husband returns from war we will beable to catch up on our payments. We have already had are 2001 Ford repossessed from the bank, and are now down to a 83 buick that is rusted from front to back and the heater don't work, and tire tax is due in November.

I'm not asking for your pitty because we got our ownselfs into this mess but we would love you and thank you in our prayers if you would just keep this link on your blog for others to view.

God Bless You.

Melissa K. W.
To see my family view this page. My Family

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