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More Soldiers Surviving, but Injuries More Severe

More Soldiers Surviving, but Injuries More Severe

Posted - Dec. 13, 2004 at 8:43 a.m.



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Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingThe total number of American troops who have died in Iraq since the war in Iraq began now stands at 1,276. 9765 soldiers have been injured. A new study shows that more us soldiers are surviving serious wounds than in any other conflict.

The challenges are daunting; war injuries are always terrible. Today the New England Journal of medicine published military photographs of the Iraqi conflict that depict horrific injuries. Fewer soldiers are dying, but those who survive are more severely wounded. It’s a stark reminder of the casualties of war.

More than a thousand men and women have died fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, but thousands more are surviving their injuries. Call it an evolution in war. Back in the Civil War, one out three soldiers died from their injuries. In Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War, 24% had lethal wounds. As for Iraq and Afghanistan the number has fallen to 10%.

Military photographs show the unique injuries American soldiers are facing in this war. The injuries are less lethal but more traumatic. What's different in Iraq is that soldiers are getting medical care where it’s needed most, on the front lines. After emergency surgery, patients are airlifted to larger units designed to continue care.

As lifesaving as these new strategies have been, medical teams are facing things they never anticipated -- blast injuries, suicide bombs, and land mines -- soldiers surviving wounds that have lifelong ramifications. The troops' Kevlar helmets and vests are protecting their heads and chests, but the insurgents' favorite weapon, the improvised explosive device, is causing terrible injuries to arms, legs and torsos.

The good news is that service members are surviving in record numbers, but they need a lot of support and medical attention when they come home.

One final note, only a small number of general and orthopedic surgeons are in Iraq, no more than sixty five, to care for as many as one hundred and fifty thousand troops.

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