VIEWPOINT: Supporting Wounded Warriors

Man running with prosthetic leg

WITH THE LEAPS FORWARD in battlefield medicine, the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have seen an unprecedented survival rate of 90%, a full 10 % higher than Operation Desert Storm in 1991. A side effect of this is that many more wounded warriors are returning with injuries that result in significantly impaired musculoskeletal structures and limb amputations. The military, as part of their overall commitment to support these brave heroes, has committed $19.5 million dollars to optimize functional outcomes.

A new consortium funded by the Department of Defense will take a multi-center, multi-study approach to ensure this goal is met.

The Bader (Bridging Advanced Developments to Enhance Rehabilitation) Consortium hub is at the University of Delaware and is comprised of the four military treatment facilities nationwide, as well as Harvard/Spaulding and the Mayo Clinic. The goal of this consortium is to establish evidence-based orthopedic rehabilitation care that results in optimal functional outcomes for each wounded warrior. Along with Dr. Steven Stanhope, Director of the Consortium and Dr. Ken Kaufman, Director of the Scientific Cores, Dr. Irene Davis, Director of the Spaulding National Running Center will serve as the Director of Clinical Research. Dr. Davis will also lead one of research initiatives focused on running. She will apply her research the area of gait retraining to reduce faulty mechanics in soldiers with amputations in order to optimize performance and reduce injury.  Among the long term health benefits of restoring greater function to this often at-risk population will be the reduction of associated
chronic conditions, such as pain and osteoarthritis. Reducing the number of chronic conditions with healthier and active lifestyles has vast impacts on the resources needed to support soldiers suffering
from them and concurrently boosts the productivity of soldiers rejoining active duty ranks with unique skill sets and abilities.

“We owe it to these soldiers to ensure that we are helping them physically recover from the initial injury and equipping them with the tools to return to active duty and lead fulfilling lives,” said Dr. Davis. “Growing partnerships with leaders in care like this consortium will help us build novel models of treatment for a military population, and eventually allow us to transfer these to the general population benefiting thousands of people for years to come.”

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