Our view: War results in medical advances
May 18, 2012 4:44PM
THE FIRST AMENDMENT
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Updated: June 29, 2012 8:23AM
It is a lamentable but undeniable fact that wars are a great boon to medical research.
Some historians suggest that modern medicine has its roots in the Civil War, with the development of protocols to remove the wounded quickly from the battlefield to special military aid stations, to new surgical methods, to successful treatments for gangrene — and even developments as simple as sterilized instruments and surgeons washing their hands.
The Spanish-American War allowed Army doctors to identify the cause of yellow fever and led to the eventual development of a vaccine.
Thanks to the war in Afghanistan, Britain’s National Health Service reports major advances in reconstructive and maxillofacial surgery, in some cases updating techniques first developed in World War I: infection control, pain management and physiotherapy.
American military doctors have made great strides in treating traumatic brain injuries because of the enemies’ weapons of choice in Afghanistan and Iraq — IEDs, some of them packed with rusty nails and bolts, and land mines.
And there is progress in treating the residual psychological effects of battlefield-like post-traumatic stress disorder.
“It’s a real opportunity; combat is the greatest catalyst to medical innovation,” an Army doctor, Maj. Gen. Richard Thomas, told USA Today.
With United States participation in the war in Afghanistan winding down and the end of a U.S. combat presence in sight, the paper reports that military scientists are conducting record amounts of research while the opportunity lasts — 47 medical studies slated for this year, up from 40 last year and 20 in 2010.
The military is doing large-scale surveys — brain scans and blood tests — on troops just off the front lines to test for mild brain trauma and concussions that might otherwise go undetected.
The troops have to volunteer for the tests. Not surprisingly, most of them do.
Scripps Howard News Service