Background: This study extends what is known about long-term health-related quality of life (HrQoL) and other psychosocial outcomes (i.e., depression, posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD]) among US military combat amputees serving in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn.
Methods: A total of 63 combat amputees were identified from the Wounded Warrior Recovery Project, a study assessing long-term self-reported HrQoL and psychological outcomes among those wounded during military service. Another 477 service members from the Wounded Warrior Recovery Project were identified as a comparison group (i.e., nonamputees with moderate to severe extremity injuries).
Results: After adjusting for age, time since injury, overall injury severity, and traumatic brain injury, amputees had poorer functional HrQoL than those in the nonamputee comparison group overall and in the specific area related to performance of usual activities, and, to some degree, chronic and acute symptoms, and mobility/self-care. On the other hand, depression and PTSD symptoms were not different for the two groups.
Conclusion: Results suggest that when assessed over 5 years postinjury, on average, amputees have unique physical and functional limitations, yet do not report greater depression or PTSD symptoms than others seriously injured in combat. It may be that state-of-the-art integrated amputee care that includes support networks and emphasis on adjustment and psychological health may increase successful coping and adjustment, at least to a level that is on par with other types of serious combat injury.
Level of evidence: Epidemiologic/prognostic study, level III.