Servicemembers and veterans with major traumatic limb loss from Vietnam war and OIF/OEF conflicts: survey methods, participants, and summary findings

J Rehabil Res Dev. 2010;47(4):275-97. doi: 10.1682/jrrd.2010.01.0009.


Care of veterans and servicemembers with major traumatic limb loss from combat theaters is one of the highest priorities of the Department of Veteran Affairs. We achieved a 62% response rate in our Survey for Prosthetic Use from 298 Vietnam war veterans and 283 servicemembers/veterans from Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) who sustained major traumatic limb loss. Participants reported their combat injuries; health status; quality of life; and prosthetic device use, function, rejection, and satisfaction. Despite the serious injuries experienced, health status was rated excellent, very good, or good by 70.7% of Vietnam war and 85.5% of OIF/OEF survey participants. However, many health issues persist for Vietnam war and OIF/OEF survey participants (respectively): phantom limb pain (72.2%/76.0%), chronic back pain (36.2%/42.1%), residual-limb pain (48.3%/62.9%), prosthesis-related skin problems (51.0%/58.0%), hearing loss (47.0%/47.0%), traumatic brain injury (3.4%/33.9%), depression (24.5%/24.0%), and posttraumatic stress disorder (37.6%/58.7%). Prosthetic devices are currently used by 78.2% of Vietnam war and 90.5% of OIF/OEF survey participants to improve function and mobility. On average, the annual rate for prosthetic device receipt is 10.7-fold higher for OIF/OEF than for Vietnam war survey participants. Findings from this cross-conflict survey identify many strengths in prosthetic rehabilitation for those with limb loss and several areas for future attention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Afghan Campaign 2001-
  • Amputation, Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Amputation, Traumatic / rehabilitation*
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel
  • Mobility Limitation
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Prostheses and Implants / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Veterans
  • Vietnam Conflict
  • Young Adult