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Extremity war injuries symposium seeks to improve patient care for wounded warriors
Jan 27, 2010 - 4:59:36 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Since the beginning of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, there have been nearly 36,000 battle- injured warriors, of which approximately 82 percent suffer extremity trauma. Many of these injuries are complicated by the effects of improvised explosive devices which cause injury patterns distinct from civilian trauma. Traditional wound-management guidelines simply fall short. In an effort to address the increasing number and severity of extremity war injuries among the nation's warriors serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), the Society of Military Orthopaedic Surgeons (SOMOS), the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA), and the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) will bring together the nation's top civilian and military orthopaedic trauma surgeons and researchers for a two-day symposium January 27 - 29 to discuss barriers of return of function and duty and develop treatment principles.

Over the past several years, peer-reviewed orthopaedic research has been an essential element of our continued efforts to encourage researchers to focus on improving the treatment of high-energy extremity war injuries, said Michael Bosse, MD, CAPT, USNR (Ret.), past OTA President and co-chair of the EWI Symposium. The EWI Symposium gives us a valuable opportunity to discuss this type of research and to learn more about helping our military orthopaedic surgeons discover new and innovative ways to best treat these complex injuries. To improve the quality of life for these injured troops, we have to recognize the need for sustained, robust investment in this type of research.

The distinguished service of our military surgeons never ceases to amaze me, noted COL James R. Ficke, MD, current Chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation at Brooke Army Medical Center, the Orthopaedic Surgery Consultant to the US Army Surgeon General, and co-chair of the EWI Symposium. The continued dedication of surgeons and the incredible courage of our patients inspires advances that enhance the treatment, research, and knowledge of blast injuries. The body of research to characterize these injuries demonstrates that the majority of battlefield wounds affect extremities. Extremity wounds are responsible for two-thirds of inpatient hospital and disability costs, and are the main reasons why up to one third of our warriors never fully recover. This underscores the fact that current therapy options are not capable of restoring full function after these devastating injuries.

In January 2006, AAOS, SOMOS, and OTA hosted the first Extremity War Injuries (EWI) symposium in Washington, DC, which defined current knowledge of the management of extremity war wounds and produced a prioritized list of objectives for future research. Now in its fifth year, the EWI symposium will focus on barriers to return of function and duty and will include a session on disaster preparedness and response. The session is co-moderated by Christopher T. Born, MD, Director of Orthopaedic Trauma at Rhode Island Hospital, who will discuss his recent experiences in Haiti after the earthquake disaster.

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