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Combat injuries not top cause to leave war

BALTIMORE, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- The most common reasons for medical evacuation from war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan are fractures and tendinitis, not combat injuries, U.S. researchers say.

Study leader Dr. Steven P. Cohen, associate professor of anesthesiology at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, says researchers looked at the records of more than 34,000 members of the military who were sent to the military's medical center in Landstuhl, Germany, from 2004-2007.

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The study, published in The Lancet, found 24 percent of medical evacuation were fractures, tendinitis and other musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders,14 percent for combat injuries and 10 percent for neurological disorders.

"Most people think that in a war, getting shot is the leading cause of medical evacuation, but it almost never is," Cohen said in a statement. "As in the past, disease and non-battle-related injuries continue to be the major sources of service-member attrition and that's not likely to change. It's likely to get worse."

Some of the musculoskeletal problems may not prevented, but most people are doing their jobs in heavy gear, like Kevlar, and they are going to get overuse injuries like knee pain, hip pain and bursitis, Cohen noted.

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"But you need to recognize and treat problems before they become severe," Cohen added.

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