For the next step of my research paper I decided to research the details about the causes and procedures of dealing with an above-the-knee amputations during this time period. I decided to focus on above-the-knee amputations because of the seriousness of these injuries and to focus my research more narrowly. Likewise, I found a very helpful long-term study regarding these types amputees. Thirty of the 484 (6%) amputees that participated in this study received above-the-kneed amputations.
This study shows that the most common cause of above-the-knee amputations were landmines/booby traps, being responsible for twenty-six of the thirty in this particular study. It goes on to present that fifty-six of sixty total limbs that were amputated because of trauma while the other twelve were amputated because of bacterial infection, likely caused from the unsanitary conditions in Vietnam that the wounds were exposed to in the process of being rescued.
The study reads that, “Because bilateral traumatic amputation at the thigh is one of the most massive injuries seen in battle, it presents some of the most formidable challenges during both the acute and the long-term phase of recovery. “The first phase of caring for an individual who received such a serious injury is to make sure that the amputee actually survives. The next phase is the amputation process, where the two primary goals are to prepare the stump for safe transportation while preserving length and to prepare the stump for a prosthesis of the appropriate size and length. The largest issue with above-the-knee amputees was rehabilitation. Before the United States Army provided a separate amputee services, the rehabilitation process was recognized as being “uncoordinated, fragmented, and nonstandardized”. This made it especially difficult for these amputees to adjust back to their regular lives before the formation of this separate amputee service.
This study alone has really helped in my ability to sympathize with those who were unfortunate enough to endure these life-changing injuries and I understand more about the process they underwent as a result. While it is important to understand that these above-the-knee amputees only represent approximately 6% of the total amputees in the Vietnam War, these are also considered to be one of the most serious forms of amputations.