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Pain Med. 2009 Apr;10(3):456-69. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4637.2009.00589.x.

Assessment and treatment of pain associated with combat-related polytrauma.

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  • 1Chronic Pain Rehabilitation Program, James A. Haley Veterans Affairs Hospital, Tampa, Florida, USA.


Due to the high rates of blast injuries sustained during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of soldiers returning with massive and multiple wounds is unprecedented. While casualty survival rates have improved dramatically, the extent and impact of these wounds on soldiers' functioning pose unique challenges for their rehabilitation. Pain is highly prevalent in these individuals with polytrauma injuries and is a source of suffering, as well as an impediment to rehabilitation. However, there are a number of obstacles to effective pain treatment in this group of war-injured, including their multiple and severe injuries, the high prevalence of brain injuries, cognitive impairments and emotional distress, the prolonged and intensive rehabilitation process, and the frequent need for repeated follow-up surgeries. As a result, we believe that a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to pain treatment is required. In this article we describe the model of pain care that has evolved at the Tampa Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center, which incorporates medical, rehabilitative, cognitive-behavioral, and interventional treatments targeting pain intensity as well as pain-related impairments and coping. We include a case study illustrating some key aspects of our approach.

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