The Department of Defense Trauma Registry provides detailed information about injuries soldiers have sustained in combat. Among the events detailed include the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Recently, a group of researchers collected data from the Department of Defense Trauma Registry on casualties from 2005 to 2009. In a new study published in Spine, researchers from William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas discovered thatthere was a higher rate of spinal injuries among soldiers in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars than in previous wars, according to HealthDay.
According to a press release, the study reveals that approximately 11 percent, or one out of nine, of casualty incidents affecting United States military personnel involved in those wars are spinal injuries. In a press release, the researchers report that “the incidence of spine trauma in modern warfare exceeds reported rates from earlier conflicts.” Additionally, the researchers report that the increase in spinal injuries may reflect “‘enhanced personnel protection and medical advancements’ that have improved survival from combat injuries that would previously have been lethal,” according to the press release
In order to come up with the statistic, the researchers analyzed casualty data from 2005 to 2009. The researchers found that 872 out of 7,877 casualties were due to spine injuries. Further, the data showed that 75 percent of spinal injuries were caused by explosions and 15 percent of the injuries were caused by gunshot wounds. The majority of the injuries – more than 80 percent – were fractures.
Although there was an increase in the number of spinal injuries in the past two wars, advances in medicine have increased the rate of survival for the soldiers who sustained these injuries. The researchers say that these same injuries might have meant death for soldiers in earlier wars. The researchers suggest that the statistics could be helpful for military planning and preparedness.