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Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2008 Jan;89(1):160-2. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2007.09.015.

"To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan" (Abraham Lincoln): the Department of Veterans Affairs polytrauma system of care.

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  • 1Veteran Affairs Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN 55417, USA.


The initiation of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan has resulted in a new cohort of active-duty service members and veterans seeking rehabilitation care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Service members injured in combat most often sustain multiple injuries (polytrauma) and require a unique service delivery model to meet their needs. The VA recognized this need and responded with the development of the Polytrauma System of Care (PSC). This national system of care balances access and expertise to provide specialized life-long care to the combat injured. The PSC is comprised of: 4 specialized regional rehabilitation centers that are accredited in brain injury by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities; 21 specialized outpatient and subacute rehabilitation programs; designated polytrauma teams at smaller, more remote VA facilities; and a point of contact at all other VA facilities. In addition, the PSC has developed a proactive case-management model, a specialized telehealth network, guidelines for long-term follow-up, and services for those individuals who are unable to return home. The following commentary and articles provide additional detail on this new and unique system of care.

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