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  • Wounded Warrior Recovery Project Reports on Combat Amputees’ Quality of Life

    SAN DIEGO – A recent study by researchers at the Naval Health Research Center (NHRC) found that participants with combat-related amputations reported poorer health-related quality of life (HRQOL) than non-amputee participants with combat-related injuries.



    Lynn Boulanger, an occupational therapy assistant and certified hand therapist, uses mirror therapy to help address phantom pain for Marine Cpl. Anthony McDaniel. The Occupational Therapy department provides patients with rehabilitation services to heal and restore service members to their highest level of everyday functional outcomes. (U.S. Navy photo by Joseph Boomhower/released)


    The results are the latest findings from the Wounded Warrior Recovery Project (WWRP), a longitudinal study to better understand the impact of these injuries on service members’ quality of life, and were published March 1 in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.
    Study authors also found that, while common, rates of self-reported symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were the same for both groups. This suggests that state-of-the-art amputee care that integrates support networks and emphasizes psychological health may improve adjustment and recovery in combat-related amputees.
    The goal of the study was to expand understanding of the long-term quality of life and psychological outcomes of combat amputees who served in Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF), Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and New Dawn (OND).
    Researchers analyzed self-reported HRQOL and psychosocial data from 540 WWRP participants, comparing 63 amputees and 477 non-amputees with moderate to severe extremity injuries.
    This information was supplemented by additional data from the Expeditionary Medical Encounter Database (EMED), a Navy-maintained deployment health database consisting of clinical encounters of each service member injured while deployed in support of OEF/OIF/OND. EMED contains demographic information, tactical, as well as injury and clinical data from point of injury through recovery and rehabilitation.
    Study authors recommend additional studies should be conducted to further investigate whether amputees’ psychological outcomes are related to environmental factors, such as care on the battlefield, or if innate characteristics, such as personality, play a key role in post-injury adjustment.
    According to researchers, many combat amputees are living long lives, which reinforces the importance of understanding the long-term quality of life outcomes for this group.
    The Wounded Warrior Recovery Project
    Researchers with NHRC’s Wounded Warrior Recovery Project (WWRP) authored the study. The project was launched in 2012 to examine the long-term outcomes of service-related injuries and how they affect wounded warfighters' quality of life. The WWRP was designed by Michael Galarneau, NHRC’s director of operational readiness, to collect and examine quality of life data from injured Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, Reserve, and National Guard personnel. To date, the WWRP has enrolled more than 4,500 service members.
    The Publication
    Woodruff, S. I., Galarneau, M. R., Sack, D. I., McCabe, C. T., & Dye, J. L. (2017). Combat amputees' health-related quality of life and psychological outcomes: A brief report from the Wounded Warrior Recovery Project. Journal of trauma and acute care surgery, 82(3),592-595.
    About NHRC
    As the DoD’s premier deployment health research center, NHRC’s cutting-edge research and development is used to optimize the operational health and readiness of the nation’s armed forces. In proximity to more than 95,000 active duty service members, world-class universities, and industry partners, NHRC sets the standard in joint ventures, innovation, and translational research.
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