University of Washington

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

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Unilateral lower limb loss: prosthetic device use and functional outcomes in service members from the vietnam and OIF/OEF conflicts.


Gaily, R, McFarland, LV, Cooper, RA, Czerniecki, JM, Gambel, J, Hubbard, S, et al



Publication Info:

Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 47(4):317-332


Rehabilitation goals following major combat-associated limb loss in World War II and the Vietnam war focused on treatment of the injury and a return to civilian life. The goal for Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) servicemembers is to restore function to the greatest possible degree and, if they desire, return them to Active Duty, by providing them with extensive rehabilitation services and a variety of prosthetic devices. Our study determines the usefulness of these diverse types of prosthetic devices for restoring functional capability and documents prosthesis use and satisfaction. We compare servicemembers and veterans with major combat-associated unilateral lower-limb loss: 178 from the Vietnam war and 172 from OIF/OEF conflicts. Of survey participants with unilateral lower-limb loss, 84% of the Vietnam group and 94% of the OIF/OEF group currently use at least one prosthetic device. Reasons for rejection varied by type of device, but common reasons were pain, prosthesis too heavy, and poor fit. Abandonment is infrequent (11% Vietnam group, 4% OIF/OEF group). Future efforts should aim to improve prosthetic-device design, decrease pain, and improve quality of life for these veterans and servicemembers.

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