10 Advances In Medical Technology From The Global War On Terror

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War often serves as a catalyst for change and innovation. Nowhere is this more true than in the medical field.


In June 2013, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Jonathan Woodson told the Defense Health Agency, “If war is the dark side of humanity, then military medicine is the light.”

Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom have prompted advancements in battlefield medicine as well as developments in preventative medicine and treatment programs. As more than a decade at war comes to an end, medical advancements have had an unprecedented impact on military and civilian populations.

Related: This Marine vet is the first recipient of a revolutionary prosthetic hand »

Here’s a look at 10 advances in medical technology and equipment that came out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tourniquets: Used by the U.S. military since the Civil War, tourniquets play an important part in constricting the flow of traumatic bleeding. According to an Army Medical Command fact sheet, nearly 50% of combat deaths since World War II can be attributed to blood loss.

In 2002, the war in Afghanistan prompted the invention of the one-handed tourniquet, which allowed soldiers to apply pressure to bleeds without assistance, but it was only effective on wounds on arms and legs. Three years later, the Combat Application Tourniquet became the primary tourniquet issued to all Army soldiers. Because of its ease of use, the CAT earned its place as one of the Army’s 10 greatest inventions in 2005 and has been incorporated into civilian trauma care.

Battlefield dressing: The past 12 years have seen numerous improvements to blood-clotting dressing with the development of the fibrin bandage, chitosan bandage and combat gauze.

Developed through the 1990s and unveiled in 2002 by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and the American Red Cross, the fibrin bandage clots proteins in the blood with fibrinogen, a glycoprotein, and thrombin, an enzyme. The bandage reduces blood loss by 50 to 85%, according to MEDCOM.

That same year, the Oregon Medical Laser Center developed the chitosan bandage, which stanches bleeds by combining a biodegradable carbohydrate found in the shells of shrimp and lobsters with blood cells.

In 2008, combat gauze dressing became standard issue in the Improved First Aid Kit for every deploying soldier. The kaolin gauze pads prompt the natural coagulation response, resulting in reduced hemorrhaging.

Bonus: In February, researchers from RevMedx announced the invention of XStat, a pocket-sized injector that inserts up to 92 medical sponges into a wound and can halt bleeding within 15 seconds.

Golden hour blood container: Named one of the Army’s greatest inventions in 2003, the Golden hour blood container allows for extended evacuation times. Because blood must be preserved at a precise temperature of 34 to 43 degrees Fahrenheit in order to be transfused, the container cools up to four units of blood and provides medics more time to transport the life-saving blood.

Pain management: In 2006, pain management advancements included a lozenge containing analgesic that provided pain relief, but did not sedate the patient. That same year officials at the U.S. Army Medical Department Center approved an advanced regional anesthesia, which blocks nerves in the affected areas for patients requiring surgery.

Prosthetics: According the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 6% of service members wounded in Iraq experienced amputation. Advancements in prosthetics include the developments of robotic prosthetics and vacuum-assisted suction sockets for hip disarticulation. According to a MEDCOM fact sheet, more than 250 service members with amputation returned to active duty and more than 50 deployed again.

Identifying and treating traumatic brain injury: Often referred to as the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, significant attention has been paid to identifying and treating traumatic brain injuries. In 2001, the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command began studying biomarkers for TBI, analyzing hundreds of TBI patients and funding studies to diagnose and treat brain injuries.

A Department of Defense-sponsored study, which began in 2012, involved the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which exposes patients to pure oxygen, increasing the amount of oxygen red blood cells and body tissue absorbed, which, in theory, can change the way the body heals.

Regenerative medicine: To meet the demands of treating severely wounded service members, DoD officials established the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine in 2008. Devoted to service members with “debilitating, disabling and disfiguring extremity injuries and burns,” the institute focuses its research in five areas including burn repair, compartment syndrome repair, craniofacial reconstruction, limb and digit salvage and scarless wound healing.

Vaccine development: Since the 1960s, the U.S. military has played a role in the development of eight licensed vaccines including Rubella, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis A. In 2011, the military adopted the Adenovirus vaccine, types 4 and 7, to prevent acute respiratory disease caused by adenovirus. Because the virus can thrive in barrack-type environments, the illness often results in lost training time. The vaccine gained approval in 2011 by the FDA after testing and evaluation of the new vaccine was completed at Army and Navy basic training command.

HIV research: Perhaps the most surprising medical advancement of the past decade is the development of a combination vaccine that resulted in the first ever success in preventing HIV infection with a 31% efficacy rate. The vaccine was named one of the best medical discoveries and one of the top 10 inventions of 2009 by Time Magazine.

Photo by Sgt. Aaron Hostutler

On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.

Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.

In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.

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(U.S. Army/Pvt. Stephen Peters)

With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.

After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.

Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.

McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.

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(U.S. Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Andrew Ochoa)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Hundreds of Marines will join their British counterparts at a massive urban training center this summer that will test the leathernecks' ability to fight a tech-savvy enemy in a crowded city filled with innocent civilians.

The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.

They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.

It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.

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(Reuters/Carlos Barria)

WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) - President Donald Trump imposed new U.S. sanctions onIran on Monday following Tehran's downing of an unmanned American drone and said the measures would target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Trump told reporters he was signing an executive order for the sanctions amid tensions between the United States and Iran that have grown since May, when Washington ordered all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil.

Trump also said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone. He said the supreme leaders was ultimately responsible for what Trump called "the hostile conduct of the regime."

"Sanctions imposed through the executive order ... will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support," Trump said.

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