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From Tactical to Practical: Translating Positive Heath Outcomes from Military Treatment to Civilian Care

Posted: 10/17/2017 (Local Events)

“From Tactical to Practical”: Translating Positive Health Outcomes from Military Treatment to Civilian Care

 Seth D. Messinger, Department of Rehabilitation, Uniform Services University of the Health Sciences; Affiliate Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Washington

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

3:30-4:50 PM, Kane Hall – Room 110

 Abstract: One of the features that distinguish military orthopedic health care from its civilian counterparts is the resource base and open lengths of stay that military service-members and their dependents can rely upon when they are ill or injured. A key question that should occupy program administrators and policy makers is how to find ways to bring the positive health outcomes generated in military health care to civilian care settings both in the United States and elsewhere. The care provided by the US Armed Forces Amputee Patient Care Program is often presented by a parade of images of patients using their prosthetic devices to run, climb, scuba dive and other intensively physical activities. These images showcase the significant financial investments that military health care programs make in biotechnology devices. However, our research has found that three features of the program’s design continue to live on in the experiences of former patients who credit their current successes in life to: the enduring relationships they forged with key clinical providers; the routine access to their whole treatment team, and recovering alongside peers. What this presentation aims to demonstrate is that health outcomes that are often represented as an illustration of potential post-human futures are possible with careful attention to human centered design of health care programs.

Dr. Seth D. Messinger is a research scientist and faculty member in the Department of Rehabilitation at the Uniform Services University of the Health Sciences as well as an affiliate faculty member of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Washington. His research interests are grounded in understanding the afterlives of extremity trauma among former Walter Reed National Military Medical Center patients who sustained extremity trauma combat casualties during deployments to Afghanistan or Iraq. More narrowly he directs two projects on community life for former patients with these injuries and oversees the qualitative research of projects in evaluating a program designed to assist patients and former patients with sexual health and intimacy challenges after injury or illness, and in evaluating a program designed to provide PTSD care through training service animals. Outside of Walter Reed research, Dr Messinger is working with the FDA on a feasibility study about risk and reward of next generation prosthetic arm technology with sensory feedback capability. He is also collaborating on two new projects including one that seeks to understand the maternal health and parenting challenges for women with orthopedic and extremity trauma, and another that will look at the burden on children of living in families with traumatically injured parents. Messinger’s work has appeared in Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Disability and Rehabilitation, Military Medicine, and the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Next speaker: 25 October – Graham Pruss, PhD Candidate Department of Anthropology, University of Washington

“An Anthropology of Vehicle Residency in Seattle”


For more information about the MAGH lecture series, please contact coordinator Marieke van Eijk (

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Date: 10/18/2017

Time: 3:30-4:50 PM

Location: Kane Hall, Room 110