Who is BADER?

Who is BADER?
University of Delaware and U.S. Army prosthetics

BADER Consortium director, Dr. Steven Stanhope, works with members of a UD-Army team, examining a prototype leg brace made using the Army’s free-form fabrication technology.

You probably already have a pretty good idea who we are, if you’ve played around on the website (if you haven’t, well, you’re not allowed to leave until you do!). But we think there is more you might like to know.

The BADER Consortium got started a few years ago, in 2011, when the United States Department of Defense gave a $19.5 million award to the University of Delaware, under the leadership of Dr. Steven Stanhope. The vision was to help military treatment facilities working with soldiers injured in combat engage in high-quality, evidence-based research that would truly have an impact on the lives of wounded warriors.

Through funding research and facilitating partnerships between military and civilian sites and with private industry, BADER’s goals remain the same today: help wounded warriors live their lives as fully as possible.

The name BADER is actually a play on words. It stands for Bridging Advanced Developments for Exceptional Rehabilitation, which is exactly what the Consortium aims to do. But the acronym was actually chosen because of WHO it represents.

Sir Douglas Bader

Sir Douglas Bader, standing on the wing of his Hurricane, as Commanding Officer of No. 242 Squadron in the Royal Air Force.

Sir Douglas Bader was born in 1910, in St. John’s Wood, London. An athlete, Bader won a scholarship at the age of 18 to the Royal Air Force (RAF) College at Cranwell, where he excelled in rugby, shooting, hockey, athletics, boxing and cricket.

He showed talent for acrobatics and performed in aerial shows for the RAF. But on December 14, 1931, Bader crashed and ultimately lost both legs. Within six months, he was on prosthetics, walking unaided and determined to fly again.

Initially turned down by the RAF when he tried to return, by the end of the 1930s the British air force was in need of pilots to provide support in the war. Bader passed tests at the Central Flying School and took a refresher course. He joined the No. 19 Squadron in February 1940, undertaking convoy patrols in the Supermarine Spitfire. By June 1940, he was reassigned, promoted to squadron leader and began to participate in active combat.

By the end of the year, Bader’s squadron had shot down 67 enemy aircraft, suffering the loss of only five of its own pilots. In March 1941, Bader was promoted to lead the fighter wing based at the British village of Tangmere, mounting daylight raids on occupied Europe to attack enemy German fighters. Bader destroyed 20 German aircraft and shared final blows on two others, but in August, he was forced to bale from his Spitfire, falling into enemy territory and losing his right prosthesis.

Bader became a prisoner of war and his prosthetic leg was repaired. The RAF eventually dropped in a replacement for him. For years, Bader mounted escape attempts and made life difficult for his captors. He lived in multiple enemy camps until they were liberated on April 15, 1945.

After the war, Bader returned to civilian life and flew for Shell Aircraft Ltd. He became an avid golfer and spent much of the rest of his life encouraging others who had lost limbs, paying surprise visits or writing letters to new amputees. He was once quoted in a newspaper story:

“Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t do this or that. That’s nonsense. Make up your mind you’ll never use crutches or a stick, then have a go at everything… never, never let them persuade you that things are too difficult or impossible.” 

The BADER Consortium honors this legacy and the consortium’s mission is not one that will wane, even as America’s wars wind down. Like Sir Douglas Bader, amputees have a long and fruitful life to live out even after war. Ensuring they can do so to the best of their abilities requires continued research efforts to develop new and better opportunities.

Through support, collaboration, funding and more, BADER hopes wounded warriors are served well into the future. And many of the discoveries made for military amputees ultimately make their way to the civilian world, enhancing research and quality of life for all.

A new report out last week shows some of the staggering statistics when it comes to battle-related limb amputations incurred by soldiers serving in Operation New Dawn, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom from 2001 through 2013.

Since 2001, 1,558 members of the U.S. military have experienced battle-related major limb amputations in America’s foreign wars. These numbers peaked in 2010 and 2011, as troops on foot surged, over the rugged terrain of Afghanistan, and use of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, became commonplace.

Wounded warriors

From the Congressional Research Service//A Guide to U.S. Military Statistics: Operation New Dawn, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RS22452.pdf)

Thankfully, America’s foreign wars are winding down and, as such, fewer of our men and women are sustaining injuries in combat.

BADER’s efforts remain focused on ultimately helping all wounded soldiers maintain meaningful employment, social, recreational and emotional lives through advanced orthopaedic science and technology.

These days, BADER is hoping to help connect wounded warriors to ongoing clinical trials. Please check back often for more information.

Welcome to the BADER Consortium!


[For more on the history of Sir Douglas Robert Stueart Bader, including more photos, please visit the site of the Royal Air Force Museum: http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/research/online-exhibitions/douglas-bader-fighter-pilot.aspx]