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Spinal injuries not uncommon among recent vets

According to a new study published in the journal Spine, the rate of spinal injury among recently discharged vets is much higher than in previous wars. The study, which looked specifically at Department of Defense data from 2005 to 2009, found that one in nine troops who were injured in battle in Iraq and Afghanistan suffered a spinal injury. Overall, 7,900 of the troops wounded in those countries suffered spinal injuries.

In terms of the cause of spinals injuries, about 75 percent were due to explosions, 15 percent by gunshots. Around three percent of those with spinal injuries died after they received medical care. The number of spine-injured solders who died before receiving medical care was not mentioned in the study.

The rate of spinal injury was found to be markedly different between troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, who suffered spinal injuries at a rate of 4.4 injuries per 10,0000, compared to vets that served in the Vietnam war, for whom the rate of spinal injuries is recorded as being about 10 times lower. As has been pointed out, though, many soldiers that suffered spinal injuries in the Vietnam War did not survive.

Spinal injuries are, of course, very serious and life altering for whoever receives them, as well as their dependents. When a spinal injury is bad enough, it can drastically limit an individual’s options for employment. For soldiers, veterans benefits are available, but Social Security disability benefits are also available for those who qualify.

As with any impairment, the key to submitting a successful claim is to put together the most comprehensive, quality supportive evidence available. Working with an experienced attorney can be a benefit in doing so.

Source: news.health.com, “Spinal Injuries to Soldiers Much More Common in Iraq, Afghanistan Wars,” September 20, 2013. 

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