A new study by Northumbria University has recommended a wide range of changes to improve care and support for limbless veterans.
The study involved interviewing 32 limbless veterans from across the UK aged between 43 and 95. The interviews were then analysed to identify common themes in the experiences of the veteran amputees.
Researchers hope the data can help NHS England’s Veterans Trauma Network to focus on certain areas that have been highlighted, to improve care and support for the next generation of limbless veterans.
The study, which was jointly produced by Northumbria University and Anglia Ruskin University recommended:
- Veterans receive timely access to high quality support and specialist healthcare services – starting from amputation and extending throughout their lifetime. This will help maintain their capacity to engage in daily activities.
- Attention is given to effective management of pain to those affected by stump and phantom pain.
- Increased support for re-gaining employment, particularly in cases where veterans have limited pre-military education/training.
- More support to counter isolation and loneliness post injury.
- Special attention be paid to older veterans who have lost limbs prior to contemporary medical advances in prosthetics and care. At the moment too many of them experience a number of barriers to engaging in daily activities and having independence.
- A holistic, multifaceted approach to care and support, which integrates a wide range of services/resources. This is “essential” to ensure veterans who’ve lost limbs receive the care and support they require to maintain an engagement in daily activities and independence throughout their lives.
Going forward we need to consider, pain, we need to consider ready access to good and effective limb fitting in a timely fashion. It’s about having the right medical team, the right consultants, the right specialist nurses, and I suppose what we’ve tried to do to aid the Veterans Trauma Network is to give them an agenda of things that they should be looking at in, for 10,15, 20, 30, 40 years time, the problems faced, so hopefully we don’t have this situation where this becomes a forgotten generation.
– DR MATT KIERNAN, NORTHUMBRIA UNIVERSITY
NHS England runs the Veterans Trauma Network, which provides specialist care to veterans with service-specific traumatic injuries.