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Most Combat Zone Soldier Evacuations Not Battle Related

Non-battle-related injuries, disease account for most medical evacuations in Iraq and Afghanistan

FRIDAY, Jan. 22 (HealthDay News) -- In Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, non-battle-related injuries and disease account for more medical evacuations of military personnel than combat injuries, according to a study in the Jan. 23 issue of The Lancet.

Steven P. Cohen, M.D., of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study of 34,006 personnel who were medically evacuated from the conflict zones between January 2004 and December 2007.

The researchers found that the most common causes of evacuation were musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders (24 percent), combat injuries (14 percent), neurological disorders (10 percent), psychiatric diagnoses (9 percent), and spinal pain (7 percent). They also found that diagnoses such as musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders, spinal pain, and psychiatric disorders were associated with a significantly decreased likelihood of returning to duty compared to diagnoses of medical disorders with discrete pathology and unambiguous diagnostic criteria.

"Implementation of preventive measures for service members who are at highest risk of evacuation, forward-deployed treatment, and therapeutic interventions could reduce the effect of non-battle-related injuries and disease on military readiness," the authors conclude.

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