Battlefield orthopaedic injuries cause the majority of long-term disabilities

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2011;19 Suppl 1:S1-7. doi: 10.5435/00124635-201102001-00002.


Extremity injuries make up 54% of combat wounds sustained in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. In a cohort of war-wounded service members, we identified the conditions secondary to battle injury that result in disqualification from continued service. The Army Physical Evaluation Board records of 464 wounded service members who were injured between October 2001 and January 2005 were reviewed to determine the codes indicating unfitting conditions. Sixty-nine percent of these conditions were orthopaedic. Fifty-seven percent of the injured had unfitting conditions that were orthopaedic only. Of those evacuated from theater with a primary diagnosis of injury to the head, thorax, or abdomen and who suffered an orthopaedic injury as well, 76% had an orthopaedic diagnosis as the primary unfitting condition. Orthopaedic-related disability has a significant impact on the affected patient, the health care system, and, in the case of wounded service members, on military strength and readiness.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011
  • Male
  • Military Personnel*
  • Orthopedics / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Trauma Severity Indices
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / diagnosis
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / rehabilitation*