The Future Of Wounded Warrior Care Is Limb Regeneration

Health & Fitness
Retired Marine Sgt. Randall Rugg II, a below-knee amputee and member of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, prepares to don his prosthesis before a game against Honolulu Veterans Affairs at the Central Oahu Softball Complex in Waipahu, Hawaii, Jan. 9, 2013. Rugg, 35, a native of Monroe, La., lost part of his left leg after his armored vehicle was struck by several rocket propelled grenades in Umm Qasr, Iraq, March 22, 2003.
DoD photo

Between 2001 and 2016, the Global War on Terror left more than 1,650 service members as amputees. Though prosthetics have helped to alleviate some of the struggles of their loss of limb, they experience a “lower health-related quality of life” compared to injured troops without amputations, according to recent DoD research.


To address this issue, the U.S. Army is studying the science of bone, skin and muscle regeneration so an amputation is no longer permanent for future service members injured in combat.

“We’re not quite there yet,” Army Lt. Col. David Saunders, extremity repair product manager for the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity, said in a news release. “What we’re trying to do is develop a toolkit for our trauma and reconstructive surgeons out of various regenerative medicine products as they emerge to improve long-term outcomes in function and form of injured extremities.”

At the Military Health System Research Symposium, held this week in Kissimmee, Florida, the military’s leading researchers and academics discussed “extremity regeneration,” particularly the use of synthetic grafts, which can kickstart the healing process for soldiers by regenerating tissue.

“We would like it to be as restorative as possible, resist infection … and be durable,” Saunders said. “This is going to be implanted in young people who may go on to live another 60 to 70 years.”

Stephanie Shiels, who works with the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, is looking to go a step further and regrow bones. She has been working on a “synthetic bone gap filler” that reduces the possibility of infection by placing antimicrobial agents in the grafts.

“We know that it reduces infection,” Shiels said in the release. “Other things to consider include adding a bulking agent … to help regenerate bone.”

Though limb regeneration is the ultimate goal, the Army is also focused on skin regeneration — a major problem for both soldiers and civilians.

“Warfighters and civilians alike suffer large surface [cuts] and burns, and these result in medically and cosmetically problematic scars,” Jason Brant, a researcher with the University of Florida, said in the release. “The impacts of these scars … are really staggering. The ability to develop effective therapies will have an enormous impact not only on the health care system but on the individuals as well.”

Brant is studying the African spiny mouse, which can regenerate scar-free skin, even after losing mass amounts in an attack. Brant believes if he can determine how the mouse regenerates skin, he may be able to unlock how to apply it to people.

Advancements in science on a number of fronts have led to a whole array of innovations to treat skin injury. In 2014, the Army was experimenting with 3D printers to generate new skin. Last year, a number of doctors reportedly began using fish scales to treat burn and explosion victims.

As a kid, I recall picking up a salamander that was soaking up summer sun on the siding of my childhood home. When he realized he might be in danger, he dropped his tail and fled for the bushes, only to grow a new one almost immediately. Wouldn't it be incredible if a soldier injured on the battlefield could do the same?

World War II veteran and Purple Heart recipient Maj. Bill White, who at 104 is believed to be the oldest living Marine, has received a remarkable outpouring of cards and support from around the world after asking the public for Valentine's Day cards. "It hit me like a ton of bricks. I still can't get over it," he said. (CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD)

STOCKTON — Diane Wright opened the door of an apartment at The Oaks at Inglewood, the assisted care facility in Stockton where she is the executive director. Inside, three people busily went through postal trays crammed with envelopes near a table heaped with handmade gifts, military memorabilia, blankets, quilts, candy and the like.

Operation Valentine has generated a remarkable outpouring of support from around the world for retired United States Marine, Maj. Bill White. Earlier this month, a resident at The Oaks, Tony Walker, posted a request on social media to send Valentine's Day cards to the 104-year-old World War II veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart.

Walker believed Maj. White would enjoy adding the cards to his collection of memorabilia. The response has been greater than anyone ever thought possible.

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Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty.

A spokesman for the Taliban has told a Pakistani newspaper that the militant group is hoping to reach an Afghan peace deal with U.S negotiators by the end of January.

The comments by Suhail Shaheen on January 18 to the Dawn newspaper come after negotiators from the Taliban and the United States met for two days of talks in Qatar.

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The three Americans killed in a C-130 crash in Australia on Thursday were all veterans (left to right) Ian H. McBeth, of the Wyoming and Montana Air National Guard; Paul Clyde Hudson, of the Marine Corps; and Rick A. DeMorgan Jr., of the Air Force. (Coulson Aviation courtesy photo)

The three Americans killed in a C-130 air tanker crash while fighting Australian bushfires on Thursday were all identified as military veterans, according to a statement released by their employer, Coulson Aviation.

The oldest of the three fallen veterans was Ian H. McBeth, a 44-year-old pilot who served with the Wyoming Air National Guard and was an active member of the Montana Air National Guard. McBeth "spent his entire career flying C-130s and was a qualified Instructor and Evaluator pilot," said Coulson Aviation. He's survived by his wife Bowdie and three children Abigail, Calvin and Ella.

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MIAMI/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he will release details of his long-delayed peace plan for the Middle East before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his election rival Benny Gantz visit the White House next week.

The political aspects of the peace initiative have been closely guarded. Only the economic proposals have been unveiled.

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The Pentagon moved a total of $35 trillion among its various budget accounts in 2019, Tony Capaccio of Bloomberg first reported.

That does not mean that the Defense Department spent, lost, or could not account for $35 trillion, said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think tank in Washington, D.C.

"It means money that DoD moved from one part of the budget to another," Clark explained to Task & Purpose. "So, like in your household budget: It would be like moving money from checking, to savings, to your 401K, to your credit card, and then back."

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