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कृण्वन्तो विश्वमार्यम्


By Chitranjan Sawant

Came World War One. Weapons became deadlier and the wounds inflicted hard to heal. Shells of big guns exploded all around. Soldiers saw their comrades-in-arms blown into pieces in front of their own eyes. The surviving soldier could not eat nor could he talk. He just stared into the blank space. He was shell shocked. The remedy suggested by medics was WARMTH BOTH MENTAL AND PHYSICAL. Since it was time consuming, the soldier suffering from Bloodless Trauma was evacuated to the rear, far away from the booming guns. Loved ones of his Regiment who were walking wounded cared for him.
If the improvement was not noticeable, further evacuation was recommended to big Military Hospitals far far away from the battle zone. Loved ones of the soldier's family were permitted to provide solace with tender care. Loving care, tender care and affection were more effective than the best medicine available in the hospital ward's medicine chest. The pretty nursing officers in big military hospitals cared and cured but not like the loved ones of the immediate family.
My grand uncle who witnessed the war at its worst in France and Flanders had had a chance to care for his corps mates who did not suffer from physical wounds but were shell shocked. The bloodless trauma, as it came to be called much later in the advanced therapies of war wounds, was hard to heal. It needed psychological treatment of a specialised order to be given by specialists. More on it a little later.


Allow me to take you to Burma, now known as Myanmar. A fierce fire fight had been going on between the British Indian Army and the Imperial Japanese Army over the capture of the Sittang Bridge. The location was crucial from the tactical angle. To break the impasse, Captain (later Field Marshal) Sam Manekshaw decided to launch a frontal attack on the defended locality of the Japs. He encouraged his troops and led them from the front. Sam succeeded in capturing the position from the enemy but the Japanese succeeded in pumping as many as nine bullets of the sten gun into his stomach. His act of chivalry made instant news and the divisional commander himself went to the spot and pinned his own Military Cross on Sam's chest. He was still breathing and MC is awarded to a living soldier only. His immediate evacuation to Madras was ordered.
Now the therapy of both bodily wound and bloody trauma of nine bullets embedded in the stomach. As the surgery and the best possible medical treatment produced little result to cheer Sam and his superiors, Governor of the province visited him. Out of courtesy the Governor asked if he could do anything for the brave officer who beat the Japanese enemy. Sam said "May I have some whisky, Sir, before I die". The request was granted. believe it not this therapy did wonders to the bullet wound and the trauma. Sam looked more cheerful after two large pegs of Scotch whiskey than ever before. The novel treatment of trauma was continued and old Sam fully recovered.
Thus strange therapy for strange battle wound both physical and mental has worked wonders.


In case of India, in Jammu and Kashmir and occasionally in the North-East there have been cases of FRAGGING and Fratricide. Although it cannot be said conclusively that these new and strange phenomena in Indian perspective, are effects of bloodless trauma, nevertheless, fatigued soldiers who saw their fellow soldiers being blown off by the IED ( Improvised Explosive Device) found it hard to reconcile to the situation. They could not eat for days, they could not sleep for days and at times talked incoherently too. Without going into the finer medical points of neuro-surgical research, it can be safely surmised that only extreme loving care, fine tender care could wean away the traumatised soldier from near disaster.
The Commanding Officer, aided by his company commanders and experienced JCOs can provide the healing touch needed in such situations. Harsh words must never find a place in a treatment here. it is the parental love and care that is needed. In a counter-insurgency operation, the biological parents can just not reach the traumatised soldier. CO and officers and Jcos, who should not be in a state of trauma, provide loving care for days and nights. Finally, evacuation to a bigger hospital where kith and kin can also provide a healing touch may provide the final answer.
Perhaps rules regarding visiting hours in military hospitals may have to be modified in extreme cases of bloodless trauma. Perhaps this situation is more serious than having nine bullets embedded in the stomach.
As long as there are wars, insurgency and counter-insurgency, new medical and psychological problems would arise. They will pose a challenge to the research Scholars in this field. New therapy will come in. The rules will have to be made flexible to accommodate the new therapy in cases like Bloodless Trauma. It is absolutely important for the Army to treat the traumatised soldier, effect his recovery and bring him back to post. This will not only give the Army an additional fighting man but also raise the morale of his brothers-in-arms. Indeed the lowering of morale of terrorists can be effected by denying him benefits of advanced medical research and treatment while making it continually available to own troops.
Bloodless Trauma deserves a serious attention so that it does not take a toll of our soldiers.We in Bharat may learn from the experiences of medical researches going on to provide medical comfort to officers and GIs of the US Army deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are horror stories of GIs suffering from Bloodless Trauma and how its effect has been long lasting. There have been cases of nervous disorder of GIs even after their release from the service as the effect of Bloodless Trauma persisted. We may learn a lesson from them and prevent a recurrence in our country.

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