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World War 1 Injuries and Medical Treatment

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Lyla Ashford

on 10 June 2014

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Transcript of World War 1 Injuries and Medical Treatment

During World War 1 the most common injuries found on the battlefield were gunshot wounds, and chemical gas wounds.
Medicine on the Battlefield
Shell Shock
The Trench Influenza
There were many diseases and poor conditions during the duration of WWI, specifically in the trenches. Battle wounds were the least of their worries.
World War 1 Injuries and Medical Treatment
Many of the men that died would be buried right where they fell. There was little time to worry about a proper burial for each individual soldier. Over time, bodies would pile up along with food scraps, feces and other unsanitary things, leading to horrifying conditions.
With all the decaying bodies, feces, and food scraps, there began to be a huge rat infestation in the trenches. Rats can produce 480 babies per year, so the trenches became literally swarmed with rats. This leading to even more deadly consequences.
One problem that arose in the trenches was the trench influenza. Because soldiers could not rewash clothing, the lice would lay their eggs in the seams of the cloth and their numbers would just keep multiplying.
Not only would the lice make the soldiers uncomfortable and itch furiously, they were very infectious. The trench influenza caused the soldiers intense pain, and following with a high fever.
Trench Foot
Trench foot was one of the most terrible things that could happen to you in the trenches. This disease was not contagious, but was attained through wet and cold conditions.
Soldiers would stand in puddles and water and their own waste for extended periods of time. This would cause their feet to become completely dumb and swell up multiple times their normal size.
Millions of Men who fought in World War one developed psychological trauma's from the fighting. On record 80,000 Men experienced "Shell Shock"..
Shell Shock has caused many different reactions such as paralysis, not following orders, or simply sitting down and not getting up.
As early as 1917, it was recognized that war neuroses accounted for one-seventh of all personnel discharged for disabilities from the British Army.
Poisonous Gas Pt 1
During the act of Trench Warfare many battles resulted in stalemates, since both sides were so close together the use of poisonous gas was a way to break the deadlock
The first poisonous gas used was by the Germans, it was a chlorine based gas. This gas burned the throats of those exposed and caused death by asphyxiation.
Poisonous Gas pt 2
The Germans first used Mustard Gas in 1917, they outfitted Artillery shells and even grenades with the gas. After a few attacks with the mustard gas the Allies began calling it H.S. ot "Hot Stuff".
At the end of the war Mustard gas had injured over 1 million soldiers and killed up to 100,000 people.
Gas masks proved usless against mustard gas as the gas could penatrate the filters and housing
Common Injuries
During the War every 4 men out of 100 could expect to survive
Trench Warfare
Death was a common sight in the trenches. Be it the snipers’ bullets or poison gas, disease or suicide, the soldiers in the trenches were forever ready to face death. Over 200,000 soldiers died in the trenches of the Western Front in World War I.
Trenches were constructed in parallel lines. The troops in the front-line trenches faced the enemies directly.
Behind the front line was the second line of support trenches and behind the second line were the reserve trenches.Between the front line trenches of the Allied and Central troops was a stretch of land referred to as “No Man’s Land.” Barbed wire fences were erected at night to protect front line troops.Communication trenches were dug connecting the reserve trenches, second and first line trenches. These were used to supply ammunition, mail, and food.
Opium - used largely as a sedative, analgesic, hypnotic, diaphoretic, and antispasmodic.
Iodin - a powerful counter-irritant, disinfectant, and parasiticide.
Cocaine hydrochloric - local anesthetic, mydriatic, and cerebral stimulant
Mercury - treatment for sexually transmitted diseases
Codeine - a sedative in the treatment of coughs to lessen the irritation in the respiratory tract. Of great value in the cough of tuberculosis.
There were field hospitals that weren't vehicles, but mobile medical units. Wounded soldiers were carried on stretchers because it was too hard to transport things through the trenches any way but by walking.
Field "ambulances" were horse drawn wagons. These carried soldiers long distances from trench to field hospitals.
Most Common Injuries
How WWI Changed Medicine on the Battlefield
The Path to Treatment
The path to being treated for combat wounds consisted of being carried out of the battlefield being taken into an ambulance that took you to a casaulty clearing station, then onto a train that then takes you to the base hospital. (As shown to the left)
The conditions in a WW1 hospital were hard as the people working there had to deal with horrible injuries with very lie equipment.
Before WW1 blood transfusions were normally just person to person but Captain Oswald Robertson figured out the need for stockpiling blood.
A surgeon called Hugh Owen Thomas created the "Thomas Splint" which held a broken limb straight. (Bottom image on left)
Another innovation were the casualty clearing stations equipped with more surgeons making it so soldiers serving more sever wounds had a faster treatment and had a bigger chance of surviving their wounds.
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