Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development (JRRD)

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Volume 47 Number 4, 2010
   Pages 333 — 348

Abstract — Multiple traumatic limb loss: A comparison of Vietnam veterans to OIF/OEF servicemembers

Paul J. Dougherty, MD;1* Lynne V. McFarland, PhD;2 Douglas G . Smith, MD;3 Alberto Esquenazi, MD;4 Donna Jo Blake, MD;5 Gayle E. Reiber, MPH, PhD2

1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI; 2Health Services Research and Development Service, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, WA; 3Harborview Medical Center, Orthopedic Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, Seattle, WA; and Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation, University of Washington, Seattle, WA; 4Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Moss-Rehab and Albert Einstein Medical Center, Elkins Park, PA; 5Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service, VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System, Denver, CO

Abstract —  Multiple-limb loss due to war-theater injuries results in a unique group of servicemembers requiring intensive rehabilitation and diverse prosthetic devices. This article compares the Vietnam and the Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) groups with war-theater-associated multiple-limb loss to document significant changes in health status, prosthetic-device use, and long-term prognosis. During 2007 and 2008, a national survey queried 73 Vietnam veterans and 61 OIF/OEF servicemembers sustaining multiple-limb loss. Average years since limb loss are 39 for Vietnam veterans and 3 for OIF/OEF servicemembers. Self-rated health status was excellent or very good in 38.9% of the Vietnam group and 60.7% of the OIF/OEF group (p = 0.01). More of the OIF/OEF group than the Vietnam group reported performing high-impact aerobic activities, 18% versus 3% (p = 0.005). The OIF/OEF group currently uses more diverse prosthetic-device types than the Vietnam group. Based on Vietnam veterans' 39-year experience, the long-term prognosis for OIF/OEF servicemembers with multiple-limb loss is an active, fulfilling life. The healthcare team caring for these patients should carefully address proper prosthesis fit and maintenance of good health and function.

Key words: combat, multiple-limb loss, OIF/OEF, prosthetic devices, rehabilitation, traumatic limb loss, veterans, Vietnam, wounded servicemembers, wounded warriors.

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Last Reviewed or Updated  Monday, June 14, 2010 2:25 PM

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