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World War 1

War and Medicine

Early Medical Care on the Battlefield


From a medical standpoint, World War 1 was a miserable and bloody affair. -John
Campbell
American Armed Forces:

Did not have an established medical corps


Copied parts of the French and English medical system
Suffered 318,000 casualties, of which 120,000 were deaths

Medical Jobs During the War


-Stretcher-bearers: There were only four stretcher-bearers per company and so it was
often sometime before they received medical help.
-Nurses: This would the closest point to where a female was allowed to serve and they
would serve in the Casualty Clearing Station/CCS which were basic hospitals.

Advancements in Plastic Surgery


Trench warfare meant that heads are especially exposed, and severe face and jaw
injuries are common. Their treatment leads to the modern specialism of maxillofacial
and plastic surgery.
A new hospital devoted to soldiers' facial injuries opens in Sidcup, Kent, with over
1,000 beds available.

The Tubed Pedicle


-Patients would undergo surgery without any
antibiotics
-Surgeons would take a flap of skin from the
forehead or chest to cover a tube on the affected
area.
-The tube kept vital arteries and veins in tact while
surgeons replaced dead skin. The flap prevents
infections, removes discomfort, and is easy to
move around safely.
-Transplants of skin would take about three weeks.

Advancements in Orthopedic Surgery


Hugh Owen Thomas and Robert Jones,
both Welsh orthopedic surgeons created
the Thomas Splint.
At the beginning of the conflict in 1914,
80% of soldiers with broken thigh bones
died.
The use of the Thomas splint meant that,
by 1916, 80% of soldiers suffering that
injury survived.

Trench foot
-An infection in the foot caused by prolonged exposure to cold and wet conditions.
The feet would turn red or blue, and begin to go numb.
-Soldiers who suffered from trench foot needed to have their feet amputated.
-Amputation was done by a guillotine at first. This was stopped when it left nerves
exposed, causing stump pain and poor prosthetic fit.

Infection
-Infection was a serious complication for the wounded. Doctors used all the chemical
weaponry in their arsenal to prevent infection.
-Since there were no antibiotics or base drugs, a number of alternative methods were
employed. The practice of debridement whereby the tissue around the wound was
cut away and the wound sealed was a common way to prevent infection.
-Carbolic lotion was used to wash wounds, which were then wrapped in gauze soaked
in the same solution.

Physical Rehabilitation
- With hundreds of thousands of injured soldiers returning home, World War One
also led to a new emphasis on rehabilitation and continuing care.
- Both in the US and Europe, programs of rehabilitation were instituted, providing
injured soldiers with long-term medical care and training aimed at a soldier for a
speedy return to work.

Resources
http://ncpedia.org/wwi-medicine-battlefield
http://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/wounding-in-world-war-one
https://ceufast.com/news/nursing-and-medicine-during-world-war-i
http://www.kumc.edu/wwi.html