Mechanism-of-Injury Approach to Evaluating Patients With Blast-Related Polytrauma

Steven G. Scott, DO; Heather G. Belanger, PhD; Rodney D. Vanderploeg, PhD; Jill Massengale, ARNP; and Joel Scholten, MD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Published: May 1, 2006

J Osteopath Med; 106(5): 265-270

Civilians and military personnel alike are increasingly being exposed to explosives in war zones and other regions of political conflict and, consequently, they are suffering associated blast-related polytrauma (multiple complex injuries). Although acute, emergency-based medical care for patients with blast-related trauma has been well described, postacute clinical management—which is of greatest interest to primary care physicians and rehabilitation specialists—has not been well discussed or researched. The authors offer a description of the common injuries seen in patients with blast-related polytrauma, as well as a conceptual model of a potential evaluation and treatment strategy in the postacute setting. Although medical evaluation of a patient typically proceeds in a sequential manner based on primary symptoms, the authors advocate a parallel approach to patient evaluation based on mechanism (cause) of injury. Such an approach relies on knowledge of the typical physical and psychological sequelae associated with a particular mechanism of injury to guide patient assessment and treatment. The authors highlight the mechanism-of-injury approach used with patients who have blast-related polytrauma at the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Tampa, Fla, site of one of the VHA’s four Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers.

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