Dubya’s Signature

From Holden:

How ironic, the “signature wound” of Dear Leader’s vanity war is traumatic brain injury.

Because more soldiers in Iraq are surviving severe brain injury, doctors are witnessing a potentially long-lasting set of medical and mental problems unique to participants in modern-day war.

“Traumatic brain injury is the signature wound of this war,” said Lt. Col. Rocco Armonda, an attending neurosurgeon at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Armonda and another neurosurgeon treated brain-injured patients in 2003, the first year of the war in Iraq. They performed 270 brain surgeries, 60 of which were for penetrating wounds. “In previous conflicts, most of these people would have died,” Armonda said.

In the following year, Armonda said, neurosurgeons doubled the number of craniectomies, in which part of the skull is removed to accommodate brain swelling. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, mortality from brain injuries in the Vietnam War was 75 percent or greater, with 12 to 14 percent of all combat casualties having a brain injury. In the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, traumatic brain injury accounted for 22 percent or higher of the injuries – a larger proportion of casualties than it has in other recent U.S. wars.


Doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., are assessing all injured troops returning from Iraq. As many as 60 percent have brain injuries, the journal reported. Some are mild. Most are moderate to severe. “There is a good chance that they will be living with symptoms for a long time,” Oakie said.