View Full Version : Wounded War Vets Find Hope in Working With Physical Therapists

11-29-2005, 07:48 PM
Wounded War Vets Find Hope in Working With Physical Therapists

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SACRAMENTO, Calif., Nov. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- As the Iraq War continues, thenumber of injured soldiers returning to the U.S. with serious physicalimpairments is increasing. According to Randi Woodrow, a physical therapistand physical therapy section chief at the Veterans Affairs, Greater LosAngeles Health Center, "We are seeing patients with lots of 'blast injuries'from the impact of things exploding around them." The Center, a hub medicalcenter with four outpatient clinics in downtown Los Angeles, Sepulveda in theValley, Santa Barbara and Bakersfield, serves veterans between the ages of 20and 105 years old, including veterans from the Iraq War ranging from 20 to 54years old. Their injuries are mostly orthopedic injuries from lifting, falling, andcar accidents resulting in shattered ankles, ligament injuries, torn rotatorcuffs, injured backs and necks. Additionally, veterans are presentinginjuries caused by lifting and carrying heavy packs of up to 100 pounds whilerunning on uneven surfaces or sand with limited visibility pose a risk foractive duty personnel. Physical therapists categorize these injuries asshort-term therapy. However, physical therapists at the Center are seeing more than short-termcases. "Unfortunately, we are seeing more men and women with multiple limbamputations," said Woodrow. "And, now we are seeing more and more youngerveterans with traumatic amputations from this war." The VA Hospital in LosAngeles has become known for its care of older amputees as a result ofuncontrolled diabetes, vascular conditions or old military injuries fromViet Nam. Soldiers and veterans, working with a physical therapist will maximizetheir independence and daily living activities, improve ambulation throughmobility training and increase strength, endurance and coordination. "Patientsset the goal, the physical therapist's job is to get them there," says CaptainMarilyn Rodgers, senior physical therapist at the amputee ward at Walter ReedArmy Medical Center. The hospital in Washington D.C. has created an amputeeward based on a sports medicine model. Unlike wounded soldiers returning fromVietnam, men and women wounded in combat in Iraq are receiving comprehensivebalance and strengthening therapy combined with state of the art prostheticlimbs. According to Captain Rodgers, some Vietnam War veterans are now goingto VA Hospitals to receive new physical therapy treatments and prostheticlimbs, allowing them to walk for the first time since they were wounded. Advances in body armor and helmet design and improved emergency medicalcare are making it possible for casualties in the Middle East to surviveinjuries from landmines, combat and Improvised Explosive Devices (IED).Unfortunately, those patients suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) orSpinal Cord Injury (SPI) may be under the supervision of VA Medical personnelfor the rest of their lives. "I would love for people to know that as the largest healthcare providerin the country, Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Health Care Center is adynamic medical center with state of the art innovations that enable physicaltherapists to provide seamless care to veterans throughout their course oftreatment." http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/11-29-2005/0004224541&EDATE=