The Boston Marathon. For runners around the world, it represents the pinnacle of the sport. It’s a lifetime achievement to qualify and an honor to run the epic 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boyleston, past the screaming girls of Wellesley and the hills of Newton. One word can describe it: electrifying.
Last year, however, the outcome of the day was nothing but terrifying, as homemade bombs exploded at the finish, killing three and wounding 264 others.
In the 365 days that have followed, people have come together to support the victims and their families as they grip with tragic losses and lives forever changed.
The Spaulding Rehabilitation Center, a BADER Consortium clinical rehabilitation site in the Boston area, has been at the forefront of helping people impacted by the tragedy resume lives that are as close to normal as possible. Since last year, they have cared for 33 survivors, including 15 amputees.
This has long been the goal of BADER and the work is no less important in the civilian population than it is for our wounded warriors. While we would prefer never to see such tragedies again, this serves as a good reminder why this ongoing work is crucial. People will always be in need of solid research and technology to keep pace with a changing world and to maintain a high quality of life.
Recently, Spaulding announced it has launched a 10-year study to better understand how to help people impacted by such traumatic events as bombings and mass casualties.
From the Boston Herald:
Doctors will look at physical health, mental health, employment, relationships and more. They will track signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, which could emerge years after the bombings. The goal is to learn how to better treat these patients in the future, and how to give long-term support to others who experience terrible trauma.
According to the paper, many survivors have fought the odds and are back to walking, dancing and supporting the causes they believe in. But recovery can be a life-long process.
Over the course of the study, Spaulding will track patients’ progress through interviews, questionnaires, gait analysis and other clinical tests.
“We need to think about having ways to care for people for extended periods of time, especially when you’re talking about the young military population, or in this case, a mass casualty event,” Dr. David Crandell, medical director of Spaulding’s amputee program, told the Herald.
This week, the city of Boston held a series of events this week to honor victims and survivors of last year’s bombing, including a pre-game ceremony before the Red Sox played on Sunday night. Included in that ceremony was Jeff Bauman, subject of the now-famous image of the man in the wheelchair – then a raw, below-knee double amputee – being rushed to safety by two remarkable volunteers.
Bauman was one of the victims cared for at Spaulding. He wrote a powerfully-moving account of that day and his journey. Here’s an excerpt, but you should read the rest, in last week’s The Guardian:
If people talk about the photo this year, I hope they remember that. I hope they remember that the man in the wheelchair, the one without the legs: he lived. He has a fiancée and a baby on the way; he’s learning to walk again; he’s going to be OK.
The New York Times also published this phenomenal gallery of Bauman and his time at Spaulding.
Today is the one-year event anniversary of a tragedy no one should ever have to live through. But at least we know there are people always there, striving to help and improve the lives of those who do. Boston Strong.