Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

High rate of spinal injuries among troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan

Date:
September 16, 2013
Source:
Wolters Kluwer Health
Summary:
Spinal injuries are present in 1 out of 9 US military personnel sustaining combat injuries in Iraq or Afghanistan -- a much higher rate than in previous wars.

Spinal injuries are present in 1 out of 9 U.S. military personnel sustaining combat injuries in Iraq or Afghanistan -- a much higher rate than in previous wars, according to a report in the Sept. 15 issue of Spine. The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

"The incidence of spine trauma in modern warfare exceeds reported rates from earlier conflicts," according to the new study, led by Dr Andrew J. Schoenfeld of William Beaumont Army Medical Center, El Paso, Texas. The sharp increase in spinal injuries may reflect "enhanced personnel protection and medical advancements" that have improved survival from combat injuries that would previously have been lethal.

Spinal Injuries Present in 11 Percent of Iraq/Afghanistan Casualties

The researchers searched casualty records from the Department of Defense Trauma Registry for the years 2005 to 2009. The analysis included detailed information on combat-related spine trauma among soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Spinal injuries were present in 872 out of 7,877 casualties analyzed -- a rate of 11.1 percent. Fractures accounted for more than 80 percent of spinal injuries. Three-fourths of spinal injuries were caused by explosions and about 15 percent by gunshot wounds. About three percent of personnel with spinal injuries died after receiving medical care. (The study did not include those who died before receiving medical care.)

Overall, spinal trauma occurred at a rate of 4.4 injuries per 10,000 service members deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, including a 4.0 per 10,000 rate of spinal fractures. By comparison, the anticipated rate of injuries to the limbs was about 15 per 10,000 personnel.

Spinal injuries were more likely to occur in Afghanistan than Iraq, and in Army personnel than in members of other service branches. The highest rate of spinal trauma occurred in the Iraq War "surge" year of 2007. Spinal injuries caused by gunshot wounds were more frequent in Iraq than Afghanistan.

Increase in Spinal Injuries Linked to Improved Survival

"The 11.1 percent rate of spinal injuries…represents the highest published statistic for Iraq, Afghanistan, or any other American conflict," Dr Schoenfeld and coauthors write. The rate of spinal injuries is perhaps 10 times higher than in the Vietnam War. The researchers suggest that, at any other time in history, most soldiers with spinal trauma were injured so severely that survival would have been impossible.

"[A]dvances in military medicine are now enabling soldiers to reach medical facilities where their spinal wounds can be identified," Dr Schoenfeld and colleagues add. They also note the high rate of concurrent injuries to the limbs and/or head and neck, reflecting the destructive power of modern military-grade explosives.

While acknowledging some limitations of their data source, the researchers believe their findings "likely represent some of the best available data as well as the most generalizable information" on spinal trauma in modern warfare. They suggest that the 11 percent figure may be useful for purposes of strategic planning and military preparedness -- including the need for treatment and rehabilitation for survivors of combat-related spinal injuries.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wolters Kluwer Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Andrew J. Schoenfeld, Matthew D. Laughlin, Brendan J. McCriskin, Julia O. Bader, Brian R. Waterman, Philip J. Belmont. Spinal Injuries in United States Military Personnel Deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Spine, 2013; 1 DOI: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e31829ef226

Cite This Page:

Wolters Kluwer Health. "High rate of spinal injuries among troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130916103655.htm>.
Wolters Kluwer Health. (2013, September 16). High rate of spinal injuries among troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130916103655.htm
Wolters Kluwer Health. "High rate of spinal injuries among troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130916103655.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A Florida doctor who helped fight the expanding Ebola outbreak in West Africa says the disease can be stopped, but only if nations quickly step up their response and make border control a priority. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) More than 100 tons of medical supplies were sent to West Africa on Saturday, but aid workers say the global response is still sluggish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins