By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean P. Lenahan Naval Medical Center San Diego Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO - Naval Medical Center San Diego's Comprehensive Combat and Complex Casualty Care (C5) program celebrated five years of service in caring for wounded, ill, and injured (WII) patients.
C5 has provided medically-advanced rehabilitation to wounded, ill and injured service members to include prosthetics, physical therapy, occupational therapy, mental health, neurological, Project C.A.R.E. (Comprehensive Aesthetic Restorative Effort), urology, vestibular care, and many other multi-disciplinary medical services to more than 1,600 severely-injured patients through outpatient rehabilitation and inpatient care prior to returning them to active duty or transitioning them to civilian life.
"There are multiple divisions of C5 that have brought the lives of our patients back to a functioning normal," said Lt. Cmdr. Wendy Stone, C5's deputy program director.
Various C5 programs help bring the normal back into combat wounded patients' lives.
"We have patients who don't just want to be able to walk from the bedroom to the kitchen; they want to be high-performance athletes, to be able to drive a car, to wear flip-flops again. C5 as a whole allows them to do that," said Stone.
Assisting more than 214 single, double and poly-traumatic amputee patients over the past five years, C5's Physical Therapy (PT) division teaches patients to learn to walk and be mobile again. PT has built a robust Pilates program that allows patients to prepare their core strength and improve coordination while their limbs are still healing in preparation for their prosthetics, which helps patients to transition to walking exercises more easily and efficiently than traditional mat exercises. PT also has all the standard rehabilitation and exercise equipment with a few pieces unique to amputee population such as the Solo Step, a system that consists of an aluminum track and harness which allows patients a safe atmosphere for balance and gait training and an Alter G anti-gravity treadmill, which allows partial weight-bearing therapy up to 75 percent while promoting normal gait patterns that enable a patient to have evenly distributed weigh while running or walking.
The Occupational Therapy division rehabilitates and teaches patients how to adjust to functional rehabilitation for everyday living. A few of the additions to their department over the past five years have been a driving simulator (installed in 2010), a hand eye coordination trainer (installed in 2011), a Baltimore Therapeutic (BTE) work simulation machine and multiple community re-entry programs to help train patients body and motor functions for everyday use.
The Gait Lab measures and records the stride of patients as they walk over force plates by recording their movement with Motion Analysis Corporation's Raptor and Eagle model cameras. With the information they gain from watching individuals walk they are able to make adjustments to prosthetics in order to improve the patient's walk and provide functional stability. C5's Gait Lab was the 2012 recipient of the European Society of Movement Analysis for Children and Adults (ESMAC)'s award for best poster presentation on "Effectiveness of Fall-Prevention Training Program for Persons with Lower Extremity Amputations Initial Result." In addition, they have and on-going study in the postural active disturbance that helps patients catch themselves to prevent slips and falls advancing this specific medical field and resulted in four published studies: "Pilot testing of a haptic feedback rehabilitation system on a lower-limb amputee" published in Complex Medical Engineering, April 2009, "Integrated Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation Care at a Comprehensive Combat and Complex Casualty Care Program" published in Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Dec. 2009, "Functional Improvement Following Ablative Fractional Laser Treatment of a Scar Contracture" published in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation journal, Oct. 2011, and "Functional Gait Analysis Before and After Delayed Military-Related Amputation" published in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery Case Connector, Jan. 2012.
The prosthetics lab brings science fiction to reality with the advancement of bionics. In the past two years alone, C5's prosthetics laboratory has built more than 800 prosthetic limbs designed with bionics that are tailored specifically to each patient's unique injury, stride and movements. With this technology and attention to detail, C5 has given those receiving prosthetic medical treatment the chance to choose to continue their military service and pursue recreational activities such as surfing, hiking, snowboarding and others.
Recovery is not only physical; it also often requires mental and emotional health care support as well. The C5 Mental Health division helps service members with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and those struggling with combat stress symptoms. The development of an eight week program in 2010 called "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Intensive Outpatient Program" has a designed schedule that involves yoga, cognitive therapy, art therapy, spirituality, healthy cooking, sleep hygiene and even family education with support groups.
Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Tim Bleigh, who received injuries while deployed to Afghanistan, said the assistance from C5 went above and beyond anything he had expected.
"About a year ago, after I had already had reconstructive surgery, I was having crazy pain in my leg," said Bleigh. "When I brought it to the attention of my primary care provider it wasn't dismissed, it was re-evaluated, taken seriously and all of my doctors were on board with me. You don't realize how much you enjoy walking until you can't. Their aid helped me focus more on my recovery and my independence."
Jennifer Town, C5's program director, who has been with C5 from the beginning, revealed where she sees the program in the next five years.
"Everyone here works toward ensuring our patients and their families remain our main focus. In the future, we would like to bring Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense and the civilian sector together to maximize the potential of these wounded, ill and injured service members through a collaborative community effort in delivering sustained care and support," said Town.
The week-long C5 anniversary schedule of events included tours, lectures, program demonstrations, a courtyard fair, and culminated Oct. 19, in a cake-cutting ceremony with the Surgeon General of the Navy and Chief of the Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Vice Adm. Matthew L. Nathan. The weeklong celebration ended with a staff, wounded, ill and injured patient, and family appreciation day hosted by the Gary Sinise foundation and featured performances by the Lt. Dan Band, cover band Stolen Silver, a barbecue lunch provided by celebrity Chef Robert Irvine, appearances by the Cirque du Soleil Street Team and actors from the television show CSI: NY.
For more information on Naval Medical Center San Diego, visit http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcsd or www.facebook.com/NMCSD.