The military has been working hard to find new ways to treat musculoskeletal injuries, studies have learned. Teams of physical therapists and other specialists have been created by the Army to keep a closer eye on infantry brigades, and have implemented better screening techniques to find serious spinal injuries. Still, some soldiers say their injuries are often discounted by physician assistants, who are often the ones who see the soldiers first. These assistants determine who will get more extensive workups by doctors in military hospitals.
A sergeant in the Army with the 5th Stryker Brigade complained of a sore back during training. A physician assistant at the Madigan Army Medical Center was convinced the soreness was simply due to muscle pain.
The sergeant told an interested party that he had to pay out of his own pocket for an MRI, which showed he had a herniated disc. He went to Afghanistan in 2009 anyway, deciding to wait until returning to Washington state to be treated in summer 2010.
Medical staff are always looking for “sick-call warriors” who complain about problems that don’t exist. The sergeant feels this is the right thing to do. He told a doctor, however that “the problem is, now they treat most everyone like they are faking it.”
The Army itself says they are taking steps to change this and hospitals and doctors in New York City and Westchester County have taken note.
“The faster you can address some of the issues at the clinic level, the less likely the soldier is to need hospital-level car… in the theater (or need) to be evacuated,” said the chief of the department of anesthesia at Madigan Army Medical Center to a New York Spinal Injury Lawyer.