Huang discussed blast injuries, a type of wound that has affected thousands of U.S. soldiers and others in
"This is a type of injury unlike anything seen regularly here in
"Here we might see gunshot wounds to the head, or severe injuries from motor vehicle accidents, but we don't see blast injuries, and so neurosurgeons haven't really had much experience treating them. What we're seeing in
When Huang arrived in
As a result, Huang took more aggressive surgical measures than he might otherwise have undertaken. One common tool for neurosurgeons is a procedure known as a craniectomy, where a piece of the skull is removed temporarily to allow the injured brain to swell without being damaged. For many injured soldiers, Huang performed larger-than-usual craniectomies. While textbooks and years of training dictated a smaller procedure, his experience and that of his colleagues in
In his presentation at CNS, Huang discussed the cases of several soldiers and some civilians who came to Balad Medical Center, about 60 miles north of
Huang and colleague
"Most of the soldiers still face a long rehabilitation process, including intensive physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy, at Walter Reed Medical Center," said Huang. "But the fact that they survived the most devastating head injury, considered unsalvageable by most civilian physicians, is in itself a miracle."
One key was aggressive therapy, such as large craniectomies performed immediately.
"Sometimes, aggressive therapies can be critical for patients who, previously, might have been assumed to have very poor outcomes," said Huang. "The lesson is that the GCS score is not entirely predictive of outcome. There is hope for these patients.
Huang also treated Iraqi civilians who had been injured, and he was able to monitor their progress more closely than seriously injured U.S. soldiers, who were quickly evacuated from
Huang is continuing his studies of brain injuries in his laboratory at the
Huang enlisted in the U.S. Army reserves shortly after the 9/11 attacks. A native of
To learn more about Huang's journey from student in
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