Saving Soldiers: Combat Challenges in Iraq Spur Medical Innovations

Keywords combat challenges iraq medical interventions
Standards groups

Advancements in protective equipment are an important con- tribution. To protect soldiers from IEDs, the U.S. Army has im- proved armor for vehicles and upgraded personal equipment such as body armor, ballistic helmets, and combat goggles. The fit and wear of the new equipment is vastly preferred by soldiers and was evaluated with the assistance of HF/E researchers. (Go to http:// to listen to soldier testimonials.)
For example, the “interceptor body armor” has ergonomically designed front and back plates that facilitate ease of movement and webbed attachment loops so soldiers can tailor their loads to mission requirements. In addition, body armor now includes addi- tional protection for the shoulder and upper-arm areas.
Another example is the advanced combat helmet, which is lighter and more comfortable for extended periods than previous helmets. A third example speaks to the importance of appearance: Soldiers were not wearing their combat goggles because they thought the goggles were ugly. Since they were replaced with “cooler-looking” goggles, soldiers wear them more readily, and there has been a significant decrease in eye injuries (Gawande, 2004).

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volume 49
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