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Long-term consequences of landmine injury: A survey of civilian survivors in Bosnia-Herzegovina 20 years after the war.

Ryken KO, Hogue M, Marsh JL, Schweizer M. Long-term consequences of landmine injury: A survey of civilian survivors in Bosnia-Herzegovina 20 years after the war. Injury. 2017 Dec 1; 48(12):2688-2692.

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INTRODUCTION: Bosnia-Herzegovina is one of the most landmine-contaminated countries in Europe. Since the beginning of the war in 1992, there have been 7968 recorded landmine victims, with 1665 victims since the end of the war in 1995. While many of these explosions result in death, a high proportion of these injuries result in amputation, leading to a large number of disabled individuals. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study is to conduct a survey of civilian landmine victims in Bosnia-Herzegovina in order to assess the effect of landmine injuries on physical, mental, and social well-being. METHODS: Civilian survivors of landmine injuries were contacted while obtaining care through local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina to inquire about their current level of independence, details of their injuries, and access to healthcare and public space. The survey was based upon Physicians for Human Rights handbook, "Measuring Landmine Incidents and Injuries and the Capacity to Provide Care." RESULTS: 42 survivors of landmines completed the survey, with an average follow up period of 22.0 years (±1.7). Of civilians with either upper or lower limb injuries, 83.3% underwent amputations. All respondents had undergone at least one surgery related to their injury: 42.8% had at least three total operations and 23.8% underwent four or more surgeries related to their injury. 26.2% of survivors had been hospitalized four or more times relating to their injury. 57.1% of participants reported they commonly experienced anxiety and 47.6% reported depression within the last year. On average, approximately 3% of household income each year goes towards paying medical bills, even given governmental and non-governmental assistance. Most survivors relied upon others to take care of them: only 41.5% responded they were capable of caring for themselves. 63.4% of respondents reported their injury had limited their ability to gain training, attend school, and go to work. CONCLUSION: The majority of civilian landmine survivors report adverse health effects due to their injuries, including anxiety, depression, multiple surgeries, and hospitalizations. The majority also experience loss of independence, either requiring care of family members for activities of daily living, disability, and inability to be employed. Further research is required to determine effective interventions for landmine survivors worldwide.

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