Amputations and other serius injuries on rise from IED explosions
Specialist Brandon Rethmel Photo by: Sylvia Rethmel
September 20th, 2011
08:39 PM ET

Amputations and other serius injuries on rise from IED explosions

By CNN Sr. National Security Producer Charley Keyes

The Defense Department confirmed Tuesday that the number of serious battlefield injuries, including multiple amputations and genital wounds, continues to rise.

The Army said that the number of multiple amputations so far this year is higher than all of 2010, blaming the increase on walking patrols - a key element in U.S. counterinsurgency strategy - and the continuing threat of roadside bombs buried by insurgents such as those in Afghanistan.

And the report, titled "Dismounted Complex Blast Injury," says that some military personnel may be so concerned about potential injuries, such as multiple amputations, that they may not want to survive serious wounds.

"The increased rate of double and triple amputees, coupled with pelvic and genital injuries, represented a new level of injury to overcome," the 87-page reports says. "To some, the resultant burden on their family and loved ones seemed too much to accept, and, anecdotally, some actually developed 'do not resuscitate' pacts with their battle buddies in the event of this type of injury."

Military leaders say they are working both to save the wounded and to persuade those with multiple injuries that they can go on to lead fulfilling lives.

"These are life-defining injuries for the warriors and their families, but it is not desperate," Brig. Gen. Joseph Caravalho told journalists at the Pentagon. He chaired the task force that found that the severity of combat injuries was increasing.

"All of us in uniform understand it is not just about saving lives - it's about doing everything military medicine can do to help them lead full and productive lives."

Caravalho said that the military is saving more of its wounded than ever before, with new protective equipment and combat vehicles as well as new procedures on the battlefield, shorter helicopter evacuations and surgical advances.

Army doctors said at the Pentagon Tuesday that the number of major-limb amputations had increased from 86 in 2009 to 187 in 2010 and that so far this year there has been 147. But increases in the numbers of multiple amputations - three or more limbs - are even more dramatic, from 23 in 2009 to 72 in 2010 and already 77 in the first nine months of this year.

And injuries that result in multiple amputations also are likely to cause urinary and genital injuries.

"The ATO's (Afghanistan Theater of Operations) most dramatic changes in 2010 were the increased numbers of bilateral thigh amputations, triple and quadruple amputations, and associated genital injuries," the report says.

But Army officials said they were unable to give details of how many military personnel received genital injuries, saying based on the available data it could not be determined whether an injury was a laceration or full loss of genitalia.


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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Pope,Larry D

    What made you think that the veterans of this war would be treated any better than vets of vietnam or any of the other wars.Are you surprised in you government?l hope not.Greed and corruption at the Federal,State and County levels has'nt deminished but multiplied.

    June 22, 2013 at 5:59 pm | Reply
  2. Thomas

    With a CEO who was getting paid $1.8 miiloln per year until he was convicted of bribing public officials, it is pretty clear the management's focus has not been on safety. Their corruption and negligence has been at the expense of blameless patients who deserve better.

    June 29, 2012 at 7:35 am | Reply
  3. Kirsten

    "Serious" is spelled wrong in the headline... F.Y.I.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:33 am | Reply
  4. VET 5150

    These men and women have served this country and gave all they could. However they are comeing home to the V.A. health care system that is horiable. I experiance this first hand as I am a 100% disabled vet from operation Desert Storm. You are passed from doctor to doctor like cattle. the people that work in the V.A. hospitals are rude and show no respect to you( I am refering to common respect for another human). It takes forever to get an appointment to see your primary care Dr. I am lucky to get in to see my Dr. once a year, and just forget it when you have the flu it has taken as much as two weeks to get in to see a Dr. for a sickness. The waiting ares in the hospitals are packed and they never have enough seating. Then when you do finaly get in to see the Dr. he is only there for 10-15 mins and tells you there is another Dr. that you need to see because he is not qualified to see you or you need a special test etc. What happens is you never see the same Dr. for your problem how can you get any type of quality treatment in a system like this. ( Oh by the way for all of you people that supported Obama's health care reform this is what you all have to look forward too. ) You all should also realize is this is all the Veteran can afford because when your on V.A. diability you don't have a lot of money to live on so you have to take what health care is available to you. Not to mention that some of the injurys these men and women are coming back with are specilazed and requie unique care and even with private insurance it would be outragesly expensive for the treatment if the insurance would even cover you.

    These men and women will soon be forgoten by the system and it shiuld not be that way. I am not saying that Veterns deserve the most expensive Dr's. and the most expensive hospitals by any means , however I do feel that we deserve a lot better than we are receving at this point.

    September 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Reply

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