Bridging the gap increasing awareness and understanding of the wounded warriors: a new and emerging client population
Brady, Jeanne Elizabeth
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Since October 2001, our nation has had a continuous presence of service members in Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Since 2003, the United States had service members in Iraq to support Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) with the last troops to leave in December of 2011. In total, approximately 2.4 million United States service members have deployed as part of OIF and OEF (Spelman et al., 2012). The nature of the enemy tactical engagement in the OIF and OEF wars has resulted in the largest proportion of identified TBIs in any conflict in the nation's history (French & Parkinson, 2008). Research shows that as many as 11% to 23% of the service members may have mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI) from injuries sustained by blasts or explosions (Shultz et al., 2011). The complexity of brain injuries is further complicated by associated physical and psychological injuries that were sustained in the context of war (French & Parkinson, 2008), and is still in its infancy of being understood (Lehman, 2008). Professionally, health practitioners are now faced with a new population of young service members with severe combat related injuries, both physical and psychological, and they need to prepare themselves for conditions not experienced to this magnitude since the end of the Vietnam era (Nanof, 2007). Wounded warrior (WW) and veteran care is a new and emerging occupational therapy (OT) practice area and there are currently limited resources available to prepare OTs to enter this emerging field. To address this problem, an online continuing education course will be developed for OTs to expand their knowledge and skills in critical areas related to the rehabilitation of WWs with mTBI.
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