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Navy hospital in San Diego expands facility for amputees

October 6, 2012 | 11:55 am

To meet the need of an increasing number of amputees, Naval Medical Center San Diego is expanding its prosthetics lab where service personnel are fitted with artificial limbs and trained in their use.

In 2007, when the hospital opened its Comprehensive Combat and Complex Casualty Care (C-5) facility, the prosthetics department was designed to support 40 patients with single amputations.

Currently, the department is treating 100 active-duty personnel and 50 retirees, many with multiple amputations, officials said.

In 2011, C-5 fitted patients with 418 prosthetic devices, including feet, ankles, legs, hands and arms. In the first nine months of this year, the figure is 470.

To meet the increasing patient need, a therapy pool is being filled in to provide two additional treatment rooms, a check-in area, a storage space, and a second set of parallel bars. Cost of the expansion is set at $240,000, officials said.

The second set of parallel bars “will allow us to get two wounded warriors up on their legs at the same time, which will relieve some congestion in that area,” said Lt. Cmdr. Wendy Stone, deputy director of the C-5 facility.

The wounded personnel need not only just “walking legs” but also prosthetics that will allow them to return to participation in sports.

 “They also want a running leg, a surfing leg, and a swimming leg,” Stone said. “They’re very active, so we want to be able to fulfill that requirement.”

In Iraq and Afghanistan, the enemy’s weapon of choice has been the buried explosive, leading to traumatic amputations for U.S. soldiers and Marines.


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Photo: Prosthetics specialists at Naval Medical Center San Diego work with Marine Cpl. Juan Dominguez, who lost both legs and his right arm in Afghanistan. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times