BALTIMORE, MD (February 13, 2013)– The American Urological Association (AUA), a leading advocate for the specialty of urology, today applauded President Barack Obama on his remarks regarding the nation’s support and commitment to providing world class care for our veterans, service members, and their families during last night’s 2013 State of the Union address. In addition to improvements in mental health services as recognized by the President, the AUA also urges additional research, training, and care coordination to help those suffering in silence from urotraumatic injuries sustained during duty. They deserve to be cared for in an integrated delivery system that is administered with the benefit of concurrent clinical outcomes data that supports whole-person care for those with traumatic war injuries.
Today’s soldiers face a different set of risks than previous generations, particularly improvised explosive devices (IEDs). IEDs are a leading cause of urotraumatic injuries – and soldiers on foot patrols are even more vulnerable than those in vehicles, where fortified panels may, to some extent, deflect the blast wave and shrapnel. IED shrapnel and blast wave as well as gunshot wounds can cause injuries that might impact fertility and urinary and bowel function. The incidence of genitourinary injury has increased 350 percent in the Afghan theater compared to the Iraqi theater. This mechanism of injury also is an increasing threat to womens’ health in theater especially with the recent regulatory changes allowing women to serve in active combat roles.
“It is virtually impossible for battlefield surgeons to fully prepare for the injuries they will encounter serving in today’s military theater. They are unprecedented both in scope and severity,” said Mark T. Edney, MD, an urologist and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The AUA is an advocate of legislation, similar to H.R. 1612 (introduced during the last Congressional session by Rep. Brett Guthrie [R-KY]) that supports increased research and education in urotrauma. The bill called for the establishment of a National Commission on Urotrauma, led by the U.S. Department of Defense in close collaboration with the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services. Once formed, the new Commission would be responsible for: Studying the present state of knowledge and research on urotrauma, evaluating existing education and research resources and identifying knowledge and programmatic gaps; and developing a long-term plan for using national resources to effectively deal with urotrauma, including investigating new methods in the care and treatment of persons impacted by urotrauma; identifying ways to prevent or minimize these types of injuries; and improving education and training to medical personnel caring for these individuals.
“During previous conflicts, urotraumatic injuries of this degree, which are almost always seen in combination with catastrophic extremity injury, were often incompatible with life,” Dr. Edney said. “Today, advances in the acute management of battlefield trauma and the incredibly efficient evacuation platforms for the severely wounded are enabling us to save the men and women who sustain complex blast injuries – and many must now deal with the chronic, profound implications for their physical and psychological well-being as well as their spousal and other social relationships.”
“We need more research into the prevention of these injuries and to improve the acute stabilization, chronic management and chronic care coordination which will all improve the ultimate quality of life for our wounded warriors.”
NOTE TO REPORTERS: Expert spokespeople are available to discuss the issue or urotrauma and the AUA’s advocacy activities on this topic. Please contact the Communications Office at 410-689-3932 for more information or to arrange an interview.
About the American Urological Association: Founded in 1902 and headquartered near Baltimore, Maryland, the American Urological Association is a leading advocate for the specialty of urology, and has more than 19,000 members throughout the world. The AUA is a premier urologic association, providing invaluable support to the urologic community as it pursues its mission of fostering the highest standards of urologic care through education, research and the formulation of health policy.
Wendy Waldsachs Isett, AUA