Wounded Warriors

Think Science: Prosthetics And Military Medicine

Nov 20, 2015
Eileen Pace / TPR

Imagine a thought-controlled leg or arm that moves and responds through brain signals sent to the prosthetic, behaving as a regular leg or arm. While prosthetic limbs controlled by thought are still in the trial phase and still years away from hitting the market, prosthetics have made remarkable improvements within the last decade. With Brooke Army Medical Center and the Center for the Intrepid, San Antonio is at the forefront of military medicine.

The concept of injured veterans as a group has only been around for 150 years, and has grown exponentially from the technological advances in life-saving battlefield medical attention.

From the Revolutionary War to Iraq and Afghanistan, a new documentary analyzes the stories of wounded warriors and the changing understanding of what is owed to our wounded. Beyond burns and amputations, the dramatic psychological scars have led to soaring suicide rates and the need for increased mental health care. 

How do we ensure our veterans get the care they need? 

Ross Davis / Valor Games

More than 150 wounded warriors are in San Antonio this week from all over the country, as far away as Puerto Rico and Oregon, for this year’s Valor Games Southwest.

Veterans and active-duty service members come to the Alamo City to compete in the annual sports competition, which Valor Games director Ross Davis says helps even the most seriously wounded veterans regain their self-confidence.

“I was talking to one of the guys the other day and he said, ‘Sports saved my life. You know, it kept me from going down in a hole into a place that I didn’t think I would get out of.’”

David Martin Davies

Three nights out of the week you’ll find Moses Sonera at the Randazzo Brothers boxing gym on San Antonio’s Northeast side. He’s working the speed bag, driving combination punches into the heavy bags and getting ready for his next big fight. 

But look down and you’ll notice that Sonera is missing a leg.  He’s boxing with a prosthetic limb. The 41- year-old lost his leg during a mortar attack in Iraq, in 2004. 

"To me it means everything like a second chance at life," Sonera said. 

NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live. We're calling the project "Back at Base," and this is the second installment of the ongoing series.

It was 2005, and Gary Walters had served a year in Iraq. Then, one day, a bomb went off near him, and he suffered severe wounds.

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