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Experts Gather for Training on Advanced Combat Surgical Skills

Image of Experts Gather for Training on Advanced Combat Surgical Skills. Former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey delivered the keynote address during the biannual Federal Advanced Skills Training- Limb Trauma symposium, which took place June 27-29 at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo: MC2 Brennen Easter, Uniformed Services University)

Military and civilian medical professionals gathered for the Federal Advanced Skills Training – Limb Trauma symposium, a three-day activity focused on advanced combat surgical skills and rehabilitation best practices, from June 27 to 29. A collaboration between the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, the Defense Health Agency’s Extremity Trauma and Amputation Center of Excellence, and the Department of Defense Joint Trauma System, the event featured a diverse group of experts in the amputation care field offering both lectures and hands-on simulations and demonstrations.

Spearheading the event was U.S. Army Col. (Dr.) Benjamin “Kyle” Potter, a professor and chair of the USUHS department of surgery. Potter has vast experience in orthopedic surgery and musculoskeletal oncology, both in forward theaters and at military hospitals and clinics in the United States.

"The FAST-Limb Trauma symposium is significant not just because we are reviewing combat casualty care best practices and teaching those techniques to surgeons, but because we are doing so in an interdisciplinary fashion—with vascular, reconstructive, and orthopedic experts teaching surgeons across all specialties what they need to know to ensure our wounded warriors get the best care downrange," Potter said.

Morning sessions included podium presentation on topics ranging from hemorrhage control and burn management to amputation care clinical practice guidelines and upper limb salvage management. Afternoon sessions included lessons and training in the USUHS anatomical teaching lab.

Included in the diverse lineup of military and civilian guest speakers was retired U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey, the former governor of Nebraska, who was also a Navy SEAL during the Vietnam War and is a recipient of the Medal of Honor. During a tour in Vietnam, Kerrey was severely wounded and required a below-the-knee amputation on his right leg. Although he’s been out of politics for over 20 years, Kerrey is still active in advocating for limb care for service members and veterans.

A major component of the event was the current research and provider education and training on limb loss and amputation care.

John Shero, the center director, believes the ongoing research his team does directly impacts health care delivery to patients with limb trauma and amputations. The center is a branch of the DHA Research and Engineering Directorate.

“A large part of the FAST- Limb Trauma symposium deals with the research we’re conducting, and how that research informs clinical care,” Shero said. “The tremendous partnership we have with USUHS to educate and train providers within the Military Health System enables us to better support the medical readiness of our surgeons and clinician staff and most importantly, MHS patients.”

Presentations from the 2023 FAST-LT will be made available at www.health.mil/EACE following the event.

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Last Updated: July 03, 2023
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