Library Collections: Document: Full Text

Reconstruction Of Crippled Soldiers

Creator: n/a
Date: May 1918
Publication: The Scientific Monthly
Source: Available at selected libraries

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Surgeon-General Gorgas has issued a recommendation that hereafter no member of the military service disabled in line of duty, even though not expected to return to duty, will be discharged from service until he has attained complete recovery or as complete recovery as it is to be expected that he will attain when the nature of his disability is considered. The inauguration of this continued treatment will result, during the period of the war, in the saving to the service of a large number of efficient officers and soldiers who without it would never become able to perform duty. Physical reconstruction is defined as the completest form of medical and surgical treatment carried to the point where maximum functional restoration, mental and physical, has been secured. To secure this result the use of work, mental and manual, will be required during the convalescent period. This therapeutic retains or arouses mental activities, preventing "hospitalization," and enables the patient to be returned to service or civil life with the full realization that he can work in his handicapped state, and with habits of industry much encouraged if not firmly formed.


At each hospital where reconstruction work is carried on there will be a special "educational" officer, whose functions are to arrange for and supervise, under the direction of the commanding officer of the hospital, the means provided for the use of therapeutic work, such as curative workshops, classes, etc.; to act as technical adviser to the commanding officer on this subject; to recommend the development of necessary means to keep patients employed so far as it is possible to do so; to make the necessary records of work done in his department; and to have immediate charge of any special training of vocational nature which can be given with the means at hand.


These officers are to be obtained from the ranks of teachers, vocational instructors and others especially qualified, and will be selected for their training, experience and peculiar fitness for the work. Where it is possible a man will be obtained who is himself handicapped by some physical disability and who has made a success in life.


As a result of a survey made by the Surgeon-General's Office of men already undergoing reconstruction treatment in this country, it is expected that enlisted men who have completed their treatment and re-training, but who are unfitted for further field service, will be found worthy of commissions and well fitted for the work outlined in the two preceding paragraphs. No increase in the number of enlisted men in the Medical Department is anticipated for this work, the expectation being that patients, or former patients, will be used.