Protecting military convoys in Iraq: an examination of battle injuries sustained by a mechanized battalion during Operation Iraqi Freedom II.

1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, CA 92055, USA.
Military medicine (Impact Factor: 0.77). 07/2005; 170(6):546-9.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Improvised explosive devices and mines pose a formidable threat to military convoys traveling in Iraq. This study evaluated battle injuries sustained by a mechanized battalion operating against this threat. The objective was to gain insight into injury profiles and prevention. In the period examined, 32 attacks injured 120 Marines, causing 188 injuries. Upper extremity and head injuries (70%) were common, whereas lower extremity injuries (11%) were rare (as expected, given the threat and the body areas exposed). Shoulder and axilla protectors may be beneficial, but lower arm and hand injuries remain difficult to combat. Ear injury was the most common single injury type (23%). Combat earplugs may reduce ear blast injuries. Eye injuries were uncommon (0.5%), likely because of ballistic eye protection. Injury to the torso (11%) was generally mild, because of body armor vests. The majority of wounds were minor, allowing > 80% of the injured Marines to return to duty.

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    ABSTRACT: The wearing of eye protection by United Kingdom soldiers in Afghanistan has reduced the morbidity caused by explosive fragments. However, the remaining face remains uncovered because there is a lack of evidence to substantiate the procurement of methods to protect it. Using a new computerised tool we entered details of the entry sites of surface wounds caused by explosive fragments in all UK soldiers who were injured in the face between 1 January 2010 and 31 December 2011. We compared clinical and predicted immediate and long term outcomes (as defined by the Abbreviated Injury Score (AIS) and the Functional Capacity Index (pFCI), respectively). We also used the tool to predict how additional protection in the form of a visor and mandible guard would affect outcomes. A soldier wearing eye protection was 9 times (1.03/0.12) less likely to sustain an eye injury than one without. However, 38% of soldiers in this series were not wearing eye protection at the time of injury. There was no significant difference between the AIS and pFCI scores predicted by the tool and those found clinically. There is limited evidence to support the use of a mandible guard; its greatest asset is better protection of the nose, but a visor would be expected to reduce long-term morbidity more than eye protection alone, and we recommend future trials to assess its acceptability to users. We think that use of this novel tool can help in the selection of future methods of ballistic facial protection.
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