Health

Time heals
Health, Military Health Matters

Time heals

Whether buying time or giving it time, the clock and calendar measure the success of military medics and physicians. Medics feverishly work against the clock during the golden hour—that brief period of time to stave off death following severe trauma, when bleeding must be controlled, shock prevented, and the patient transported for more intensive care.  For physicians, it’s a waiting game. Only time will tell if what they’ve done will repair or cure the patient, and Mother Nature can take her own sweet time about it.  But what if time could be stretched for the former, and shortened for the latter?  DARPA, the futuristic U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has major projects looking at both ends of this time continuum.  The Biostasis program aims to improve survival for ...
Medical Advances Behind The Line, Part 2
Health, Military History

Medical Advances Behind The Line, Part 2

The odds of recovering from a wound in the Second World War were nearly twice as high as in the Great War. Doctors attributed the improvement to better treatment for shock and blood loss; antibiotics to fight infection; improvements in surgery; and prompt and efficient medical and surgical treatment.  Although the killing machines of this war were just as murderous, medical advances cut the mortality rate to 66 per thousand from 114 per thousand in the First World War. The men and women of the Canadian Medical Services handled more than two million wartime casualties. The service grew from only 40 permanent medical officers in 1939 into a medical corps for all three services employing 5,219 medical officers, 4,172 nursing sisters and 40,000 other ranks and ratings.  Medical breakthro...
Research on family matters
Military Health Matters

Research on family matters

In May, Canadians will be asked to fill in a census question important to every veteran and serving military member—and their families. “Has this person ever served in the Canadian military?” It’s been half a century since that question was last included in the census; things have changed a little.  Perhaps the biggest change has been an increased interest in how military service affects the families of serving members and veterans. That’s why mention of the 2021 census brought a round of applause at the online Military and Veteran Family Research symposium hosted by the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) in February.  This is a relatively new field of research, and knowledge gaps showed large right from the get-go. When pioneer researcher Deborah Norr...
Looking for a good night’s sleep
Military Health Matters

Looking for a good night’s sleep

Lack of sleep is always in the background of a military career. Military jobs, operations and missions go on around the clock and don’t come to a halt at bedtime.  CAF members are expected to be prepared to miss meals and work irregular or prolonged hours. Duty comes first. But even when duty is done, the stress of service can interfere with shut-eye.  Sleep deficiency can slide into sleep deprivation without many individuals noticing. But around the world, military organizations and veterans affairs departments are beginning to take notice of the effects of lack of sleep.  The Canadian Armed Forces introduced adequate sleep as part of the new fitness strategy introduced in 2019.  A U.S. study on the effects of sleep deprivation during combat operations said the ability to do u...
Medical Advances Behind the Line, Part 1
Military Health Matters, Military History, Military Milestones

Medical Advances Behind the Line, Part 1

The First World War spurred medical innovations that have since saved countless lives. In a war of attrition, where huge armies met in battles that could go on for months, keeping the men fit to fight required as much thought and effort as battle preparations.  While the military war was waged in intermittent battles against the enemy across no man’s land, the medical war was an endless fight against mites and microbes and horrific bodily damage wrought by the mass killing machines of the First World War. Victory on both fronts required medical breakthroughs. Men, mites and microbes “Well! I don’t know which is the worst. The war or the lice.… When we are in the trenches, what little time we get to sleep, the lice won’t let us.” —Samuel Warren Ball, April 1917 (from the Canadi...
Pain centre
Health

Pain centre

In 2014, in physical agony and with tortured emotions, Major Mark Campbell left the Canadian Armed Forces. It had been four years since he was targeted in Afghanistan by Taliban insurgents, who triggered an explosion that claimed both his legs above the knee. From that moment, pain has been a constant companion.  Campbell felt like his feet were on fire, although they were no longer part of his body, and for a long time nothing seemed to help much. He became clinically depressed and “took to the bottle for a few years.” “It has been quite a struggle.” He is not alone. Many CAF veterans live with chronic pain. More than 40 per cent of veterans who left the military since 1998 have chronic pain—two to three times the rate of civilians, reported Life After Service Studies. In a mental ...

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