Comprehensive Rehabilitation Following Combat Extremity Trauma: Evolution and Its Impact on Outcomes

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Recent military combat operations have resulted in a high burden of extremity-related long-term disability due to limb amputation and persistent deficits despite limb reconstruction. The US Army amputee care programs, established at focused centers with interdisciplinary care teams, have redefined the standard of how rehabilitation following limb loss is undertaken as the limb reconstruction is just one part of the entire patient's restoration of wellness and reintegration. Inspired by this approached, comprehensive rehabilitation programs designed for patients with limb reconstruction have also excelled rehabilitation following a spectrum of severe limb trauma. These programs, which include advances in orthotics and orthosis training, have improved function and military retention among the limb salvage patient population. Lessons learned from comprehensive rehabilitation efforts emphasize the value of highly skilled, interprofessional care teams and the overall wellness of the patients. Although this approach is resource intensive and not available in all health care systems, civilian trauma counterparts can learn from the example of holistic attention to the patient's recovery.

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