Helping injured Marines get back into the fight
By Lance Cpl. Shane Suzuki
| | April 11, 2005
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
With more than 40,000 Marines working and training here, mishaps and accidents are bound to happen. Most major training exercises have corpsman nearby for the immediate treatment of an injury, but many times training injuries require more than a bandage or an ice pack. For all Marines and Sailors who require rehabilitation after an injury, Camp Lejeune’s Naval Hospital‘s physical therapy office is the place to go.
Located on the second floor of the hospital, the clinic is open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on an appointment basis. Patients can receive care on injuries ranging from a strained ankle to surgically repaired shoulders.
“Our primary mission is to rehab injured service members and get them back training,” said Lt. Cmdr. Deborah Goodwin, department head of physical therapy. “We see active duty members and get them back to doing what they need to do.”
The clinic is starting to the see the numbers of patients increase as the nice weather rolls in and wounded veterans return from Iraq.
“Now that summer time is coming, outdoor sports-related injuries are picking up,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Rodney Flinn, lead petty officer of physical therapy. “We see a lot of knee and ankle injuries from all the training that goes on here.”
Many times, the injuries that the clinic sees could easily be prevented or made less severe with a little bit of preventative knowledge.
“So many Marines wear shoes that are not made for their body style or running style,” said Goodwin. “Finding a proper shoe is very important, considering how much running we do here. A proper fitting shoe is the number one place to start.”
Along with proper fitting shoes, Marines need to remember to replace their shoes at regular intervals. Most shoes have a recommended mileage limit on them, after which the shoe needs to be swapped out for a newer pair.
“We see Marines in here that are using the same running shoes they got in boot camp,” said Flinn.
“We suggest you switch your shoes when you change your uniform,” said Goodwin. “When we go sleeves up, get new shoes. When the sleeves go back down, get new shoes.”
Another issue Marines often face is improper insoles in their boots. Insoles, like running shoes, have a mileage limit on them. And considering most Marines wear their boots five days a week, those insoles wear out fast.
“The Marine Corps is getting better about getting out the information about injury prevention,” said Goodwin. “Stretching before PT sessions, proper safety equipment and, of course, emphasis on hydration has helped.”
Even with prevention programs, there are some injuries that cannot be avoided. Combat wounds are the last thing any Marine wants to deal with, but it is a fact of life for many War on Terrorism veterans.
“We deal with wound care, shrapnel being taken out, as well as rehabilitation from extensive reconstructive surgery,” said Goodwin. “We really run the gamut of injuries here.”
In addition to the main clinic at the hospital, two Sports Medicine and Reconditioning Treatment Clinics are available for rehabbing Marines. One is located in Building H-1 for Camp Lejeune Marines and the other is located on Camp Geiger for the students and instructors at the School of Infantry (East).
“Even with the increase in injuries, the wait time to be seen is really good,” said Goodwin. “Most people are seen within a week.”
“The goal of any rehabilitation clinic is to help the patient regain as much of their pre-injury strength and motion as possible and the clinics here are no different,” said Goodwin. “ The sooner an injured Marine gets their treatment started, the quicker they will be off light duty and back doing their normal job.”