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Characteristics of OEF/OIF Active Duty Service Members and Veterans with SCI – Planning for the Future

Evans CT, Weaver FM, Burns SP, Chin A, Goldstein B, Hammond MC. Characteristics of OEF/OIF Active Duty Service Members and Veterans with SCI – Planning for the Future. Poster session presented at: VA QUERI National Meeting; 2008 Dec 12; Phoenix, AZ.

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Abstract:

Objectives: The goal of this study is to provide information for planning to the VA Spinal Cord Injury/Disorder (SCI/D) Services on demographics, injury characteristics, co-morbid conditions, and unique healthcare needs of OEF/OIF Active Duty Service Members and veterans (ADSM/veterans) with SCI. Methods: Retrospective descriptive analysis of VA administrative data on OEF/OIF ADSM/veterans transferred from military facilities to VA SCI centers for treatment in 2002-September 2007. Data include demographics, diagnoses at first admission and subsequent admissions to the VA. Results: 105 OEF/OIF ADSM/veterans with SCI were discharged from VA facilities during the study time period. At time of first admission ADSM/veterans had mean age = 27.0 years; 55.2% were married; 98.1% were male; 69.5% white and 12.4% black; 56.2% were Army soldiers; over half had paraplegia (59.1%); mean length of stay was 78.4 days. Excluding neurotrauma, the most frequent diagnoses were diseases of the genitourinary (66.7%), digestive (54.3%), and skin systems (35.2%). Infections (24.8%) and mental disorders (22.9%) were also common. Traumatic brain injury and fractures were reported in 9% of ADSM/veterans. Similar frequencies of these diagnoses were seen for subsequent admissions (n = 171). The most frequent mental health disorder reported on first admission was PTSD (33.3% of mental disorders), and 47.7% in subsequent admissions. The majority (95.7%) of ADSM/veterans were discharged to the community. Implications: Preliminary results indicate that OEF/OIF ADSM/veterans are injured at a younger age than previously seen for new SCI/D treated in VA, have multiple chronic conditions and infections in addition to SCI that may require long-term treatment. The PTSD prevalence warrants close attention over time. This study is being supplemented with a medical record review to identify detailed information on comorbidities and other injuries; particularly since some common blast-related injuries (burns, hearing loss) were not indicated in the administrative data. Impacts: This study has already provided valuable information to operations staff at VA SCI/D Services; where data have been used for planning purposes and to inform VA senior leadership. Identifying specific needs for this population is important to determine new approaches to their short and long-term care.





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