Amputee Study May Benefit Iraq Veterans

Researchers from Ohio State University and Indiana University are studying the lives of Vietnam veteran amputees.

Stephen Wilson, a principal investigator in the study, spoke to veterans at the Faculty Club Friday afternoon.

The study, funded by a $2 million grant from the Department of Defense, led to the establishment of the Indiana-Ohio Center for Traumatic Amputation Rehabilitation Research. The goal of the research is to collect as much data from Vietnam veteran amputees as possible, in hopes of better understanding their lives after amputation.

"We hope that our findings with the Vietnam amputees and how they were treated and dealt with their amputation will help better prepare the current soldiers and let them receive the proper treatment that these veterans didn't get," Wilson said.

Wilson said he believes there are possibly 5,000 Vietnam veteran amputees, but even the Department of Defense does not know for sure.

"We lectured at the Veterans Lunch a year ago and had around 100 participants in the study. We are currently at 434 participants, with the hope of being at 500 by June," Wilson said.

The U.S. government predicted that few amputees would remember their experiences well, Wilson said.

"We're finding the exact opposite, their memories are very vivid," he said. "Thirty percent of soldiers said they came back with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder); that number is actually probably closer to 60 percent due to the amount of people who don't receive treatment for it."

Chad McMahon, a former Marine Corps sergeant with three tours in Iraq, is involved in the study. He said the research will give Iraq War amputees a better idea of what to expect after rehabilitation.

"It's going to give us an idea of what these guys coming home now can look for, what they can get ready for farther down the road," McMahon said.

McMahon said there are more than 700 amputees from conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The majority of the traumatic injuries are from explosives and roadside bombs.

Wilson said they have been trying to find these veterans for the past two years.

"Many of them don't want to talk about or don't want to relive it, so to have 434 participants is outstanding," Wilson said.

Researchers are continuing to look for Vietnam veterans with traumatic amputations.

This story was filed by UWIRE, which offers reporting from more than 800 colleges and universities worldwide. Read more at