Thousands of soldiers are returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with moderate to severe physical injuries. Such injuries include head tram, loss of limbs, and debilitating injuries to such areas as the arms and legs. Medical providers are utilizing a number of treatments to help these brave men and woman return to civilian life.
Service dogs are helping to counteract the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by providing dogs to help calm and relax a soldier suffering from PTSD. The dogs sense a soldier’s anxiety helps calm the soldier through the use of touch. The dogs are a loving distraction from stress. The dogs have two years of special training to help people with cognitive disorders and physical disabilities.
The Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) is the central point of helping soldiers recovering from traumatic injury. The Walter Reed Health Care System (WRHCS) consists of ten facilities in three states. Physical therapy services include rehabilitation treatments in areas as neurorehab, orthopedics, and amputees. The service is divided into five major sections: inpatient, orthopedic inpatient, outpatient, amputee, and aquatic therapy.
For physical injuries medical providers deliver various methods of treatment such as ultrasound, heat, ice and massage therapy, as well as a carefully designed exercise program. They also employ such treatment techniques as bands, medicine balls, stretches and exercise bikes to help e purpose is to strengthening and condition weak, sore, and injured muscles and joints. Often physical therapy has been more productive than surgery.
The physical therapist will also perform different tests to diagnose the patient’s condition. After completing the assessment, a treatment plan is discussed and therapy begins. Pain management is a key component of physical therapy.
Other physical therapy treatments include postural training and ergonomic training. Also called Human engineering, the applied science of ergonomics is focused on designing and arranging objects that patients use regularly so that patients and objects can interact adeptly and safely. For instance, work arrangements to accommodate the patient could consist of providing a more comfortable chair, sitting closer to a work desk, lowering the computer keyboard, arranging items to be at easy reach. This is often done for soldiers with back pain. Techniques and modifications are implemented to fit the patient’s specific medical condition.
Exercises are an essential part of physical therapy treatment. This can include swimming, using a treadmill, stretching techniques, breathing techniques, lifting weights. These exercises are not only for clinic use, but also for home exercise. As well, therapeutic techniques are designed to help soldiers learn how to function with artificial limbs.
The trauma of war can be emotionally debilitating. For returning injured soldiers, physical therapy includes mental health therapy. This can include providing coping strategies on how to deal with a loss of a limb, overcoming the feeling of helplessness, overcoming the feeling of isolation and depression, and showing the soldier that life can still be productive and meaningful.
Soldiers deserve the best medical treatment for their service. Because there are so many soldiers returning from war seriously injured, it is important that heath care providers are there to help them return to civilian life.