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Army study pushes for extremity trauma answers

A Charlotte doctor is coordinating an Army-sponsored consortium that will study extremity injuries and how to improve treating them. Dr. Michael Bosse of the Carolinas Medical Center says that bone reconstruction and infection especially need more research. "Those two areas right now are the problem areas in the military trauma patients but also in the civilian trauma patients so I think it's a good match of needs," Bosse says. A June 2007 congressional report said that extremity wounds are the No.1 injury to soldiers in battle and that amputations now occur twice as frequently as in past wars. The problem, according to the report, is when limbs are suddenly deprived of blood flow. If the limbs go for too long without blood, they might lose all function or even stop blood to the rest of the body, leading to death. The report says trauma research should be a top priority to the military health system. "Trauma is always on everybody's backburner, though it happens every day, and I think the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have really focused the fact that there's a tremendous amount of information that's still required to care for the trauma patient," Bosse says. The consortium Bosse will head involves about 30 trauma hospitals, including four Department of Defense facilities. The consortium's study is scheduled to last five years. Bosse says the project is also intended to create mentoring relationships for young military surgeons. "We've made a lot of advances already in the care of patients with the experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan and hopefully we can continue to build on the knowledge base to improve the outcomes." Bosse says the first patient should be enrolled by January 1st.