• By Dennis Douda

Boston Marathon Bombing: Healing the Wounds

May 15, 2013

It's been a month since the Boston Marathon bombing killed three people and severely injured about 180. Nearly two dozen survivors lost limbs and are working on a road to recovery. Mayo Clinic plastic and reconstrucive microsurgeon, Brian Carlsen, M.D., says relatively few doctors in the U.S. will ever see patients with blast injuries. He says it takes a team of specialists working together to repair the shattered bones and preserve blood supply, as well as nerve and muscle functions. But even for those whose severe limb trauma is successfully treated, very difficult decisions may lie ahead.

/// Sound bite  ( Brian Carlsen, M.D., Mayo Clinic Plastic Surgeon)  "We can put things back together and get the x-ray to look good and even get the leg to look good, but if it's painful or it doesn't work or there is no sensation, then even that situation can be difficult for the patient.  And the patient may in some situations be better off with an amputation."  TRT :17 

Dr. Carlsen says much has been learned recently about treating severe limb damage through the unfortunate injuries of soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.  One of those lessons is to engage the patient in the decision-making process to best tailor limb reconstruction to their needs.

/// Sound bite  "When you're considering the patient, you have to think about what are their hobbies? What is their work? Are they able to go through a prolonged rehabilitation process?  How far are they from home? All of these issues."  TRT :13

Dr. Carlsen says the more patients participate in their health care decisions, the more likely they are to follow a doctor's advice and, ultimately, the higher their quality of life will be.       




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