Background: The purpose of this study was to determine the percentage of amputee soldiers who sustained their injury during the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and have returned to duty. In addition, the authors plan to identify the factors that influence the amputee's likelihood to return to duty.
Methods: The computerized records of amputee soldiers who presented to the Physical Evaluation Board between October 1, 2001 and June 1, 2006 were reviewed. This data were crossreferenced with the Military Amputee Database. The following variables were extracted: age, gender, pay grade, amputation level, and final disposition.
Results: During the period reviewed, there were 395 major limb amputees that met inclusion criteria. Of those, 65 returned to active duty (16.5%). The average age of amputees returning to duty was more than 4 years older than those who separated from the service (31.4 vs. 27.2), p < 0.0001. Officers and senior enlisted personnel returned to duty at a higher rate (35.3% and 25.5%, respectively) when compared with junior enlisted personnel (7.0%), p < 0.0001. Those with multiple extremity amputations have the lowest return to duty rate at 3%, when compared with the overall return to duty rate for single extremity amputees (20%), p < 0.0001.
Conclusion: During the 1980s, 11 of 469 amputees returned to active duty (2.3%). The number of amputees returning to duty has increased significantly, from 2.3% to 16.5%, due to advancements in combat casualty care and the establishment of centralized amputee centers.