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Rosen investigates new rehabilitation surgeries

Nov 14, 2011   |   by Lindsay Ellis   |   The Dartmouth

The prevalence of blast injuries due to battlefield explosions has spurred new and innovative surgeries for rehabilitating soldiers, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center plastic surgeon Joseph Rosen said in a Veteran’s Day lecture in Spanos Auditorium on Friday. Although wartime casualties have remained fairly constant in recent conflicts, the number of wartime injuries has increased, spurring advancements in war medicine, according to Rosen, who is also a professor at Dartmouth Medical School and an adjunct professor at the Thayer School of Engineering.

“Soldiers are coming back having lost both legs—sometimes one arm and their face—all in one injury,” said Rosen, who has served as a U.S. Department of Defense consultant for the past 15 years.

The number of warfare casualties compared to warfare injuries demonstrates doctors’ increasing ability to respond to war injuries, according to Rosen. While the number of wartime injuries has steadily increased, the number of deaths has remained relatively constant, he said.

“They’re injuring us with more severe wounds, but we’re keeping the number that die from these at the same level,” Rosen said.

Rosen attributed the improvement in care to advancements in engineering medicine. Looking to the future, the fields of robotics, transplantation and regeneration must expand to adapt to the changing nature of modern warfare, he said.

“We have a new reconstructive ladder that we’re envisioning for the 21st century,” Rosen said. “The engineer needs to understand how robotics, transplantation and regenerative medicine are coming together.”

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