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Veterans with muscle injuries and mental health conditions more likely to end service
Date:7/2/2014

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Sixty percent of U.S. Army soldiers who were unable to return to a military career after an Iraq deployment couldn't do so because of a muscle, bone or joint injury and nearly half had a mental health diagnosis, according to a new study from the University of Michigan and VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

Lower rank, which indicated socioeconomic status, was also a predictor of poor health outcomes among service members, according to the research that appears in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery and was led by a former Army Major who served in Afghanistan.

Researchers followed 4,122 soldiers aged 18-52 from the start of their 15-month deployment to Iraq during the surge of 2006 until four years after their return. The strongest predictors of inability to continue serving in the military were instances of musculoskeletal conditions (including fractures and chronic knee, shoulder, spine and back pain); a psychological diagnosis and rank.

The study is believed to be among the first to follow a large series of American patients with musculoskeletal trauma from the time before their injury in order to determine predictors of health outcomes.

"Our findings indicate a substantial burden in deployment-related injuries and disability that result from exposure to the combat environment. They also highlight influences that may impede a person's ability to return to work after similar injuries in the civilian sector, " says lead author Andrew J. Schoenfeld, M.D., M.Sc., a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the U-M Medical School and VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

"We examined a brigade of diverse individuals who offer a rich sample of a civilian American demographic. This group not only included infantry fighters but also doctors, truck drivers, cooks, mechanics, legal clerks and others with various positions with the Army and most of the injuries we
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Contact: Beata Mostafavi
bmostafa@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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