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AbledHealth Boston Bombings - the journey to amputation rehab shows the immediate chaos at the scene following the two bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon


The victims of the Boston Bombings face many hurdles on their journey to healing

Every year, an average of 185 thousand amputations are performed in the United States where more than two million Americans are living with limb loss as the result of accidents or disease.

This year, on April 15, those numbers changed, but not because of accidents or disease. It was the day the Boston Marathon became the scene of a terrorist attack. The two pressure-cooker bombs left three spectators dead, and sent 264 people to area hospitals with varying blast injuries. For 16 of those people, their injuries were life changing, resulting in severed limbs at the scene or at the hospitals. Three of them lost more than one limb. Others suffered head injuries, ruptured eardrums and soft tissue damage.

The bombs had been packed with carpenter nails and metallic beads, and because the backpacks that hid them from view were left on the ground, the majority of injuries affected lower limbs and spared the event from a larger death toll.

As the ‘Breaking News’ headlines faded to the background after one of the alleged perpetrators was killed and the other captured, Bostonians got on with the business of moving on. ‘Boston Strong’ became the rallying cry as thousands of runners gathered to complete the final leg of the Marathon, while the injured faced a longer marathon of recovery and rehabilitation.

The physical toll is daunting as is the financial toll, and both will cast a long shadow. Beyond the immediate costs of amputations that can average $20,000 or more, extended hospital stays, prosthetic limb and rehab costs, there are the psychological wounds that will also take a long time and much expense to heal. Insurance may cover much of it, along with crowdfunding and donation campaigns, but there could be friction between insurance companies and their clients over the capabilities and costs of low-tech to hi-tech prosthetic devices.

We’re compiling ongoing coverage from across the web to chronicle how the injured are coping and how the communities around them are helping.

Moral support is coming from many directions. The most relevant is coming from those who have faced the same recovery challenges . . . members of the Armed Forces, as outlined in this preview from our AbledWarriors Network via the U.S. Army’s website:

Wounded Soldiers share journeys to inspire Boston bombing victims

Wounded Soldiers recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center have a message they’d like to pass on to the Boston bombing victims: “You’re not alone.” 

They can relate to the devastating aftermath of an explosion and the emotional and physical pain of lost limbs. And they know firsthand the courage and strength required to heal after blast injuries like those at the Boston Marathon.

Still, they have a message of hope to deliver.

”Keep your head up and don’t quit,” Sgt. Christopher Haley said.

Haley lost his leg and damaged the other when a roadside bomb exploded in Afghanistan in September 2011.

He remembers the moments after — the shock and disbelief and the quick ride to Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan. The doctors induced a coma, and when he woke up at Bagram Airfield in eastern Afghanistan, he took one look at his legs and cried,

”I thought it was all a terrible dream,” he said. “When I realized it actually happened, that was rough.”

Haley was flown to Brooke Army Medical Center’s inpatient hospital, San Antonio Military Medical Center, to recover. A few weeks later, an amputee walked into his hospital room and delivered something he’d been lacking in recent days — hope.

”I thought to myself, ‘If he can do it, there’s no reason I can’t,'” he said. “And I realized my life wasn’t over; I still have a lot of potential.”

This is the exact message he’d like to convey to the Boston bombing victims.

”I can’t imagine what you’re going through,” he said. “But plenty of people want to see you succeed. I want to see you succeed.”

Sgt. Jordan Sisco said he was shocked and horrified when he saw the Boston bombings on the news. The incident that robbed him of his legs and his left thumb last summer was still fresh in his mind.

”I have an idea of what the Boston victims are going through,” he said. “I don’t know, but I have an idea.”

More coming soon


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