American veterans living with limb loss due to wartime injuries and other illnesses are now optimistic as fresh access to commercial healthcare products which reflect recent advances in research come to market and receive federal grant funding at the Department of Defense (DoD).
Outdated prosthetic healthcare has created a frustrating road for injured troops, as fittings and the evaluation of post-injury treatment can be marked with delays because of lack of medical observation of the patient's residual limb over time. The worst possible outcome for a veteran's mental and physical health is abandoning their prosthetic limb. This negates the purpose of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system entirely and disallows a veteran to achieve maximum physical and financial independence.
The solution has been recognized by the DoD's Office of Naval Research (ONR), which is to study and develop a technology platform with San-Francisco based LIM Innovations to advance the field of prosthetics through web-based interfaces. This technology introduces a series of sensors embedded in the prosthetic socket that provides the patient and clinician with data aimed at prosthetic optimization- which will allow us to understand what changes are occurring with the residual limb during the troop's recovery.
This is a game changer for military and veteran prosthetic care for two major reasons. Increased troop readiness through retention of the warfighter, and improved mental and financial independence for the veteran by providing more comfortable and custom socket technology which through continued federal investment will soon reach a new level of care.
To illustrate, Paul Beyer, a Vietnam Veteran who served as a scout sniper during the war, now utilizes the first custom prosthetic socket available and benefits a great deal beyond previous prosthetic care he received at VA. For those veterans that received prosthetic devices and seek healthcare from the VA, many have abandoned their device due to lack of access or knowledge of upgraded devices. LIM Innovation's Infinite Socket allows adaption to medical changes in the veteran's residual limb, negating the need for duplicative medical appointments and sustained physical independence. Custom and modern prosthetic technology allows increased function, freedom, and employment potential. Beyer depends on the LIM Innovations socket for improved comfort as the features allow for adjustment beyond the components of more basic and dated VA prosthetic devices.
Building on that potential, is DoD funding technology platforms that will enable the VA to take over — and fund to fruition — prosthetic technology that can record real-time function in the body. The future of warfare will witness the use of advances in technology only once dreamed about, in which Commander of war time troops will be able to monitor their vital signs and weapon function remotely from a secure base. The benefits to troop retention, advances in battlefield technology, and increased freedom and independence for our veteran population is achievable by the VA's continuation and adaption of modern prosthetic technology.
The DoD and VA have a historic opportunity to accelerate the growth of research and acquisition and begin to market their progress and provide product awareness to our veteran population so these advances made by DoD's ONR arm can seamlessly move into the VA. Congress and DoD have moved on this issue as congressional report language directed VA to do more in the area of prosthetic technology, and defense department dollars are funding research to further develop prosthetic technology. The VA now has the opportunity under new Secretary Wilkie, to achieve the next level of healthcare for vets and provide modern prosthetic technologies to the treatment pool.
Veterans deserve to achieve their maximum medical and economic potential as they navigate through the remaining chapters of their lives after they remove the military uniform for the last time.
Christopher Neiweem is the Founder of Neiweem Group, an Iraq War Veteran, and Political Strategist. He has testified in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate as an expert witness numerous times in front many congressional committees. These topics range from defense, veterans, commerce, education, and military personnel. He regularly appears on Fox News Channel and other news shows as a guest commentator and has worked on several political campaigns. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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