Here’s a decent article about a new form of anesthesia called a continuous peripheral nerve block that some doctors think is a better alternative to general or local anesthesia for injury recovery. Sort of an epidural block for Purple Heart recipients.
It’s good reading, and it seems to make sense. Except for this part:
The good news is that fewer GIs are dying of their injuries than in any modern conflict. In Vietnam, one out of every three soldiers hurt in combat was shipped home in a body bag. In Iraq, it’s one in eight. Credit the use of body armor and a dramatic increase in the speed of the Air Force’s evacuation chain – the relays of Black Hawk helicopters and transport jets that ferry the wounded from the front lines to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where soldiers receive care before being sent on to hospitals like Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC.
The bad news is pain. The injuries suffered by those who survive are more severe than in previous conflicts. High-velocity bullets, rocket-propelled grenades, and so-called improvised explosive devices cause tissue damage that is particularly excruciating. Although Interceptor body armor and Kevlar helmets are highly effective at deflecting AK-47 rounds and RPG shrapnel away from the “kill zones” of the torso and head, soldiers’ arms and legs are left unshielded for the sake of mobility. The success of body armor has had the unintended effect of creating a new class of survivable physical trauma. Operation Iraqi Freedom has become a war on the extremities – a litany of exploded muscles, shattered bones, and severed limbs. [emphasis mine]
Just how is it that injuries are “more severe than in previous conflicts”?
There’s no doubt that there are more wounded soldiers that survive than previously. But are their injuries really more “excruciating”?
Ah, the good old days:
Back when combat injuries didn’t hurt so much.