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 Increased Amputees in the United States Due to the Iraq War 
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Post Increased Amputees in the United States Due to the Iraq War
by: Kent Smith

In World War II approximately thirty percent of wounded soldiers died. The Vietnam War’s fatality rate was also high with twenty-four percent of wounded soldiers dying in battle. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seem to have a relatively low casualty rate with one in every ten wounded soldiers dying. But this low mortality rate brings with it its own problems. More soldiers may be surviving, but their lives are still devastatingly affected by injuries that in other times would have meant death.

Amputations, for example, are higher in the Iraq War than they have been in any other war this century except for Vietnam (for which we lack reliable statistics). In January of 2007 the 500th amputee arrived back in the United States to receive treatment at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. This brought the percentage of wounded soldiers that are also amputees up to 2.2% of the total number of wounded soldiers, and up to 5% of wounded soldiers whose injuries are severe enough to prevent them from returning to duty. Advances in armor technology, such as bulletproof vests, may protect a soldier’s life but they do not protect his limbs.

After effects of amputation include: psychological trauma; phantom limbs; physical discomfort including itching, burning, tension or shooting pain in the phantom limb or remaining part of the limb; heterotopic ossification which occurs when the brain triggers the bone to grow instead of scar tissue; skin blisters or bruising from prosthesis; and back or muscle pain as the body attempts to compensate for the missing limb.

Care of the remaining limb is also important, especially when dealing with amputations in the lower extremities. The remaining foot and leg will have to deal with an above average amount of stress as they bear the weight of the body. Wearing an athletic shoe or a shoe with extra support such as an orthotic insert will help to care for the remaining limb. Proper footwear may prevent further complications such as stress on the hips, knees, joints and lower back or sore spots on the foot such as calluses, corns, bunions and blisters.

Due to the increasing number of amputees among the United States population as a result of the Iraq War, United States medical facilities are gearing up for increased amputee research and treatment options. A collaboration between Brown University and MIT is investigating the possibility of creating better prosthetic limbs and even creating brain sensors that can be implanted in amputees and be used to control the prosthetic limb.

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.

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Jane Barron works for,a free online website that helps people find mismatched footwear.If you are looking for diabetic shoes ,mismatched footwear ,different sized feet or information useful to polio survivors, people with diabetes foot problems, and people with foot size differences,visit

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Tue Nov 03, 2009 2:41 pm
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