CORRECTION APPENDED: This photo caption misidentified Orthotics resident Jennifer Buchanan as Chris Casteel.

In September, Medical School Prof. Bryan Grose helped an 11-year-old bomb victim from Iraq walk again.

The boy, Majed Mousa, lost his older brother in the same bomb blast outside an Iraqi store that claimed half of his right leg and injured his eye.

The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, an Ohio-based charity that helps arrange medical treatment for children injured in conflicts in the Middle East, paid for the transportation of Mousa and his mother to the United States. The University Hospital treated both his eye and leg injuries. Grose attached an artificial leg to Mousa’s amputated one.

From medical procedures like the one Grose performed to the development of new tires for Army humvees, professors’ lives are often touched by a distant war in Iraq.

Grose usually performs prosthetic procedures on victims of vascular disease or trauma like car accidents. Bomb victims are different.

“I think he had some discomfort and pain in his other limb since he still had pieces of metal in it,” Grose said. “You just have to be aware if there are remaining injuries. You wouldn’t normally have to worry about that.”

For four months, Grose taught Mousa how to walk with his new leg and wear it properly, even though he knew it would be temporary.

Mousa will eventually outgrow the prosthesis – but he may never get a new one because flying him to and from America for each replacement would be too costly.

“I would say I’m not going to see him again, which made it a little difficult doing this for him knowing that unless he was going to get it (his leg) replaced, it’s going to be temporary,” Grose said.

Still, Grose said all the effort was worth it, even though its effect will be temporary.

“There was a point to it,” he said. “I was helping him physically and emotionally.”

The procedure only reinforced Grose’s negative opinion of the Iraq War.

“I never liked the war,” he said. “It was a bit surreal sitting in that patient room with a kid from Iraq whose brother had been killed. I was seeing the result of what our government decided to go do.”

The University waived the estimated $20,000 bill for Mousa’s treatment.

The Psychiatrist

At the Veteran Affairs Hospital on Fuller Road in Ann Arbor, dozens of Iraq veterans living in Michigan have been treated for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Psychiatry Prof. Israel Liberzon, who oversees the psychiatry ward of the Veteran Affairs Hospital, said the military is more prepared for preventing post-traumatic stress disorder now than it was during the Vietnam War.

“There are military programs to help people deal with these issues,” he said. “There is easier access to mental health care.”

According to Liberzon, 15 percent of Vietnam veterans will have post-traumatic stress disorder for their entire lives, but he expects that the number will be lower among veterans of Iraq.

Liberzon said soldiers in Iraq are better trained and more prepared – physically and mentally – for combat.

He also said more research of PTSD is imperative, because the diagnosis of the disorder did not occur until the 1980s.

“It’s a critical issue,” he said. “These (treatment) programs were built on little empirical data. We don’t know what is a good early intervention strategy.”

The Engineer

Mechanical Engineering Prof. Greg Hulbert works at the U.S. Army’s Automotive Research Center, which is led by the University of Michigan and based in Ann Arbor, where researchers develop the simulation and design of military ground vehicles.

The center works on the development of mobile robots, hybrid powertrains and off-road vehicles.

Hulbert, a researcher at the center since its establishment in 1994, helps develop a database of simulation models for the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles, also known as the Humvee.

Hulbert and his team of four are testing different tires on slippery terrain.

“We are working with one of our partner schools – the University of Alaska – to incorporate accurate and efficient tire models into our simulation database to study vehicle performance on sand and snow,” Hulbert said in an e-mail interview.

Hulbert said his work has opened his eyes to the dangers troops face on the front lines.

“What has changed is my appreciation for the challenges and the difficulties of basically the soldiers’ job,” he said.

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