WASHINGTON: New pain relief measures are being employed by anesthesiologists at three coalition hospitals in Afghanistan to help Soldiers suffering from traumatic injuries caused by improvised explosives devices.
Originally developed in civilian hospitals, the new pain management system uses high definition ultrasound machines to insert peripheral catheters and deliver regional anesthesia to targeted nerves to block pain.
The techniques offer a superior form of immediate pain relief that lasts up to six weeks — far longer than intravenous drugs and narcotics, said Lt. Col. Kevin Brady, deputy surgeon for the Joint IED Defeat Organization. Brady deployed to Afghanistan to provide training to anesthesiologists in Kandahar, Baghram and Bastion.
“These pain relief measures will make a significant difference in the comfort of Soldiers in their journey home,” Brady said. “By stopping the pain early, we’ve improved all elements of a wounded warrior’s recover, both physically and psychologically.”
Previously, warfighters who suffered from a loss of arms and legs from IEDs were treated with high doses of narcotic drugs that could cause dependency.
The technique can be employed within minutes of injury in theater and can lessen the time a Soldier would otherwise be in pain during transport from the battlefield to either Walter Reed Army Medical Center or Bethesda Naval Hospital, both in the Washington, D.C. area.
The Joint U.S. Military Pain Task Force under the Army Surgeon General addresses all aspects of pain in deployment and garrison settings. In support of this task force, JIEDDO funded the equipment and required training and procedures for regional and limb pain management.
JIEDDO provides medical recommendations with regard to blast-injury prevention, mitigation and treatment capability gaps and oversees the deployment of military physicians.
(Irene Smith serves with Joint Improvised Explosive Devices Defeat Office, Public Affairs.)