By: Elaine Sanchez, Brooke Army Medical Center

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas, May 11, 2015 – Health care providers from Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs facilities across the world will gather here next week for a joint training symposium focused on the latest innovations in amputee care.

In its second year, the Federal Advanced Amputation Skills Training Symposium, or FAAST, will aim to equip DoD and VA physicians, therapists, prosthetists and other clinicians with a multitude of lessons learned from the past decade of war. The symposium will be hosted by the Center for the Intrepid, Brooke Army Medical Center’s state-of-the-art outpatient rehabilitation center, May 19-21.

The symposium is expected to draw over 100 DoD and VA professionals from across the nation as well as a handful of physicians from the Colombian army seeking to improve amputee care in our partner nation, noted John Shero, director of the DoD-VA Extremity Trauma and Amputation Center of Excellence, or EACE.

Sharing Information is ‘Vital’

“FAAST is a great opportunity to learn from each other and to establish contacts,” Shero said. “It’s vital for our patients that we share information, not just within a single care venue, but across both the DoD and VA amputee care systems.”

Each day will feature morning sessions presented by nationally and internationally renowned subject-matter experts, Shero explained, followed by hands-on training in areas such as adaptive sports equipment, the use of 3-D printing in rehabilitation, and blood-flow restricted strength training.

Sessions such as “Intimacy After Injury” and “Depression Recognition and Treatment” will stress the importance of tending to emotional as well as physical well-being, he said.

“We’ve learned that an optimal model for amputee care places the patient at the center of the process and addresses their care needs with an integrated, multidisciplinary team,” Shero said. “We are taking that same holistic approach with our agenda.”

The goal is to equip attendees with skills that can be immediately applied to short- and long-term patient care, said Stuart Campbell, CFI’s program manager.

Facilitating Learning

“We hand-picked topics that would have the best bang for the buck for these providers,” he said.

To facilitate learning, Campbell invited several patients to attend and share their experiences and challenges, including a Vietnam veteran and retired Army colonel as the keynote speaker.

“They are representative of our nation’s warriors for the past 50 to 60 years,” Campbell said, “and a direct reflection of the patients both the DoD and VA serve. The goal is to raise the level of expertise across the board and deliver world-class amputee care.”

Shero praised both departments for their role in the training.

“The DoD and VA cannot be islands unto themselves; we owe it to the American public, to our patients, to seek improvements across the federal continuum of care,” he said. “Our service members and veterans have made tremendous sacrifices for our nation. Our commitment remains that we will ensure all get the best possible care.”