Prosthetic Solutions for Our Nation’s Military

For many years, a soldier’s lost limb meant a life limited to crutches or a wheelchair, and ejection from active service. But a growing number of injuries in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, while dreadful, have led by necessity to developments in prosthetics technology. Some amputee service members have been able to stay on active duty, thanks to experience gained by their doctors.

According to the United States Army, more than two hundred soldiers who have had their limbs amputated (complete loss of a leg, foot, hand or arm) have stayed on active duty since the beginning of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, with some returning to the battlefield. Many others have resumed working in patronage roles behind the lines.

The History of Prosthetics

Prosthetics are artificial body parts used for different purposes. They are mostly custom made to meet the needs of the patients. They help patients restore abilities they have lost as a result of some illness, medical condition, birth defect or accidents.

Prosthetics have been dated back as the Egyptian dynasty of 2750 B.C. while the earliest recorded referenced coming two thousand years later around 500 B.C. when a prisoner is to have reportedly cut off their foot to escape and replaced it with a wooden substitute.

Common Prosthetics for Soldiers

Prosthetic Legs

One of the most common prosthetics is the prosthetic leg. This is because there are a lot of diseases and injuries that affect the lower part of the body. For instance, a soldier might lose a leg from rocket-propelled grenades or incoming RPGs during war. To be able to run and walk again, the prosthetic leg is required. They will allow an amputee to walk normally and do other activities as long as they are designed to do such tasks. Most prosthetic legs are made of pylon. This material is long lasting and it does not wear out easily.

Prosthetic Arms

The prosthetic arm is a lot more intricate than its leg counterpart because hands do complex activities such as grasping things. Centuries ago, prosthetic arms were not capable of moving according to the will of the user. But thanks to the advancement in technology, they are more real than ever before. Robotic arms are now being made so that they can move according to how the patient wants them to. Though the accuracy is still not the same as a real hand, advances are being pursued.

Internal Prosthetics

Some prosthetics are installed internally to support bones that have been damaged inside the body. A good example of this is the hip bone. Around 60 percent of accidents involve hip bone damage. A lot of materials can be used for the hip prosthetic. Some use metal or metal alloys for the complete hip bone while others use a combination of plastics and metal. Nowadays, some people are even using ceramic. Although ceramic is new in the world of prosthetics, it has proven to be one of the best materials that you can use for prosthetics used inside the body.

Proper Prosthetic Care

Building good prosthetic requires a lot of hard work. Proper skin care and limb care is vital to your mobility and health. To avoid bacterial and fungal infections, trapped sweat, abrasions, discomfort and swelling, here are some tips on how to take care of your skin and extremity.

How to Take Care of Your Artificial Limb

  • If you have a prosthetic which is replaced below the knee, never sleep or sit with a pillow under the knee. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time straightening your knee.
  • Avoid resting your knee over the handle piece of your crutches.
  • Try staying active by doing a lot of stretching exercises. This helps to straighten your knee and hip and increase your overall comfort.
  • For an artificial limb that is placed above the knee, it is important not to sleep with it on.
  • Your limb tends to swell in hot water as it dangles when you sit or stand in the shower. This will make it hard for you to put it on. That is why showering at night will help avoid swelling by elevating the limb.
  • If you have an artificial limb fitted just above your knee, avoid sleeping with it on as much as possible. When the hip is resting on a pillow, this promotes hip flexion or inability to straighten the hip. The best way is to place a pillow between your legs. This will help lengthen the inner thigh muscle and shorten the outer thigh muscle so when you walk you can stand with your feet apart.

Skin Care Tips for Prosthetic Patients

  • To avoid bacterial and fungal growth, it is important to wash your prosthetic with some detergent and water.
  • Use softening creams if the skin is extremely dry and at risk of cracking.
  • Do not use alcohol or unknown chemicals on the limb.

 

That serves as a short summary of the most common prosthetics being used by soldiers today to lead a normal life.

The Life of a Soldier

The life of a soldier can be very hard and demanding. However, there are also mahy benefits associated with being part of the military. Hard work, determination, and selflessness are the core values that drive the hearts and minds of soldiers. Soldiers are known to give their lives for the sake of their country without fear or complaint. They are expected to follow orders and produce results in all tasks and assignments given to them. The following are some of the challenges that soldiers go through in their days of service. This will make you appreciate them even more.

The Call to Patriotism

Patriotism is the euphoric passion that drives one to serve his/her country. The call to patriotism is not easy as soldiers protect the welfare of their country even to the point of death. When two nations are at loggerheads and decide to go to war, it’s only the soldiers that go into battle to defend their country’s interest while other citizens watch. For this reason, soldiers should be highly appreciated for this selfless gesture of risking their lives.

Lack of Good Sanitation

Proper hygiene is a major threat to the health of many soldiers. In hostile environments, soldiers choose to focus on staying safe and fiercely attacking the enemy. In such scenarios, their primary focus is trying to stay alive leaving no room for bathing, brushing their teeth or wearing clean clothes.

Moreover, there are no breaks for proper sanitation in the battlefield. This leads to the exposure of deadly diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and tuberculosis. Lack of supplies such as soap, toothpaste, and clean water can reduce cleanliness in the areas where personal hygiene is a concern and cause illnesses.

Hardships

Going through hardship is a must for every soldier. Hardships don’t start in the battlefield but during training. Soldiers have to persevere through dangerous and difficult training programs that are almost unbearable to them. According to the Navy Seal reports, only fifty percent of the seals successfully finish the entire training program. Some get sick on the way while others feel like it’s torture and quit. The training programs include sleepless nights and extreme workouts that bring out the best in every soldier.

Other hardships faced during battle are the loss of friends and comrades, injuries, hunger and poor sanitation. Long term hardships caused by war include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a life limited to crutches or a wheelchair. When a soldier returns home from the battlefield having lost most of his/her friends, he/she may end up committing suicide because of unbearable PTSD.

Lack of Proper Recognition

It very disheartening for soldiers who emerge from the battlefield as victors and the government fails to recognize their efforts. Nowadays, war veterans get little or no proper recognition despite their hard work and achievements. It can be very emotionally painful when you put your life on the line for the sake of your country and are not credited for it. For this reason, all soldiers should be personally recognized and awarded for their efforts. When the culture of appreciating our military force is cultivated, many soldiers will have great love and enthusiasm while serving our great nation. This, in turn, will lead to an increase in the overall performance of our military and defense force.

Missing Loved Ones

Soldiers have to endure the discomfort of being away from their family members and friends each and every day. Going to war is no easy thing. Furthermore, war doesn’t guarantee your safe return home. Admittedly, going to war and leaving your family behind not knowing whether you will make it back in one piece can be very stressful and heartbreaking. Soldiers that spend many years outside the country become homesick and are often distracted. Consequently, they may end up being distracted and die in battle.

On the other hand, missing loved ones can also trigger positive attributes in the performance of a soldier. For instance, a soldier may perform better in combat with the aim of winning and returning home.

Lack of Conjugal Opportunities

Being in the military is like being confined for some time and soldiers often sacrifice their conjugal rights for the sake of their nation. Sometimes they can go for years without having sex as their priority is to protect and serve their nation.

Conclusion

Soldiers sacrifice their life to serve and protect their country. They put their interests on hold; get separated from their loved ones and go to life-threatening territories to safeguard their nation. Therefore, all soldiers whether experienced or not should always be treated with respect, honor, and gratitude. Undoubtedly, our military force is the root of peace and prosperity.

The Future of US Fighting Capabilities

All through American history, improvements in military proficiency have been driven by innovation. Arms of the military have constantly managed to utilize technology in innovative and ingenious ways to subdue the enemy.

Admittedly, the United States troops have experienced immense changes in the last ten years. It’s not just the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, which imparted American soldiers with extremely useful combat skills and experience. There is also the advent of innovative technology. That includes GPS guided weaponry system that can make even a few American soldiers extremely lethal on the combat zone. Not only has this made American combat troops nearly invincible, but also much deadlier. Consequently, potential and real foes have had to adjust accordingly, and were beaten anyway if they attacked American troops.

We’re not talking about the bullet proof protective vests which have been around since the 90’s, but better communications, better night vision devices, sensors, robots, better combat zone medical care, more UAV’s and computers. In a nutshell, there has been more change witnessed in the military than ever before.

Technologies the United States Uses to Subdue their Enemies

This post highlights several technologies that the American military will need to fight the next war. Examples are advanced weaponry system, better combat zone communications, quitter, faster helicopters, and light infantry equipment.

Quieter, Faster Helicopters

When Taliban rebels sabotaged a special operations aircraft in Afghanistan, killing thirty American soldiers, it was clear that our forces need quieter, faster helicopters. Medical evacuation units and special operators, specifically, require more speed to evade enemy fire and to get to dangerous parts of the combat zone.

This safety, speed and noise demands are pressuring producers to abandon traditional helicopter designs, which professionals say limits the helicopters’ speed. Instead of conventional helicopters capable of moving at cruise speeds of up to 170 knots, the military is likely to rely more on other aircraft which can attain cruise speeds of up to 250 knots.

Light Infantry Military Equipment

For soldiers to have a better shot at winning and surviving wars, they must move around with a load of equipment that includes batteries, communication gadgets and ammunition. Scientists in both the industry and the government are focused on finding ways to lighten loads that can reach a hundred pounds by shedding weight through logistics and technology.

Soldiers can’t go to war without their body armor. The standard vest worn by a soldier weighs about thirty five pounds. Designers are looking for ways to balance comfort, weight and protection as well as devise ways to contour the armor so that it feels lighter. Some evidence suggests that that extremely light weight Nanomaterials that could revolutionize body armor are only a few years away from being realized.

Anytime Anywhere Communication

Improved portable broadband communication is always on the military’s wish list. American soldiers want similar technology that powers super-fast commercial cellular networks so they can share videos, photos and keep tabs on their unit’s whereabouts. The military is attempting to bridge the bandwidth-shortage-gap that exists today in battlefields. The difference between the connectivity that troops are used to back home and what is at their disposal when they are deployed is unsatisfactory.

Autonomous Robots

Remotely piloted drones have provided soldiers with overhead surveillance as well as the capacity to dispatch precision guided bombs. One thing seaborne, air and land robotic systems share is that someone is controlling them from a distance. In the next war, however, military leaders want drones that can think for themselves and make independent decisions.

Cheap Liquid Fuel

Any company that can produce fuel cheaper than what the United States military is presently using, JP-8, will have the world’s leading consumers of petroleum waiting with open arms to buy it. Admittedly, such a product could save the military billions of dollars annually.

Wide area Surveillance

Low altitude, medium endurance autonomous drones have provided the United States military with a means to circle over a specific area and keep tabs on suspected insurgents in countries like Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan.  As an improvement, researchers are working on better high-flying aircraft that can soar higher than fifty thousand feet to scope out wider view over an area of interest.

Conclusion

The ever-changing technology of war is driven by battlefield experience.  Expect dramatic changes to how war is fought in the future.

The Number of US Soldiers Who Died in Every Major American War

Since the founding of the United States, the country has engaged in 12 major wars extending over every continent.

Admittedly, the United States has a rather distinct relationship with war. While it is deemed to be the most military powerful country in the world today, Americans have never been subjected to war in the way that many other countries worldwide have. There is a big difference between the universal experience of war and the American experience. It might be worthwhile to look at some figures on the number of American soldiers who died in every major American war.

Vietnam War

The Vietnam War is a complicated subject, and a university scholar could devote a whole semester on the simple basics. Ever since the end of the Vietnam War, there are some approximations of its casualties put together, but they differ and are at times inconsistent with each other.

The United States paid a terrible price for its involvement in the Vietnam War, nearly sixty thousand US soldiers were killed in action, one thousand six hundred missing, and over a hundred and fifty thousand wounded. Numbers surely don’t tell the whole story, but they paint a picture of families shattered and lives lost.

Civil War

In the United States, during the first half of the 1860s, the War Between the States was one of the bloodiest wars was fought in American history. The American Civil War was fought to prevent the separation of the United States. Above all the reasons listed including slavery, the South was fighting to maintain their way of life and their freedom to be independent.

Several elements of the civil war are still hotly debated. The figures in this post are based on the soundest info available. Approximately six hundred and twenty-five thousand US soldiers died in the Civil War, more soldiers than in World War I, Vietnam War, World War II, and the Korean War combined.

World War I

World War I or the Great War started in 1914 among great, influential and affluent European countries regarding social, economic and political rift and rivalry. It continued for four years.

America joined World War I in April 1917. Over four million US soldiers served. There were fifty-three thousand four hundred and two soldiers killed in action, two hundred and five thousand wounded and about sixty-three thousand one hundred and eleven dies of disease. World War I had the most casualties than any other war in modern history up to that point. The number of deaths reached an astounding seventeen million.

World War II

World War II or the Second World War, was a universal war that continued from 1939 – 1945, although related skirmishes started earlier. The Second World War was the most destructive conflict ever known to man dwarfing the figures of casualties in World War I by a large amount.

According to the Census Bureau, approximately twelve percent of the total United States populations were a part of the armed forces. Concrete evidence indicates that the Second World War cost the lives of between fifty to seventy million souls, civilian and military, while injuries were estimated to be in the range of twenty million individuals.  The number of US soldiers who died in the conflict is estimated at more than four hundred thousand, including nearly three hundred thousand killed in action.

Persian Gulf War

The Gulf War was started by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990. Iraq’s leader, Saddam Hussein, organized the attack and occupation of Kuwait with the aim of securing that nation’s large oil reserves, canceling a huge debt Iraq owed Kuwait, and increasing Iraqi power in the region. The Gulf war was waged by coalition forces from thirty-five nations led by the United States against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. About ten thousand Iraqi soldiers were killed during the war, in comparison with only three hundred coalition troops.  One hundred forty nine US soldiers were killed.

Iraq War

The Iraq War was a military conflict that lasted for seven years and cost 1.06 trillion USD. The United States led the war against Iraq after suspecting Iraq of possessing weapons of mass distraction. When Iraq failed to present its possessions, the United States army invaded Iraq in the first quarter of 2003. The Iraq war claimed the lives of four thousand four hundred and eighty-six American soldiers.

Afghanistan War

Admittedly, the occupation of Afghanistan is the longest war in the history of the United States. As of 2016, there have been two thousand three hundred and eighty-six United States military deaths in the Afghanistan War. One thousand eight hundred and thirty-four of these deaths have been the result of hostile action. Twenty thousand and forty-nine US soldiers were wounded in action. Additionally, there were one thousand one hundred and seventy-three US civilian fatalities.

Conclusion

Hundreds of thousands of US soldiers have been killed in battle.  But the trend is a declining number of casualties.  And as we rely on modern technology to fight, those numbers will likely decline even further.

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