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Art Exhibit Honors Those Injured in Combat and the Medical Personnel Who Treat Them

Media Contacts:
Kristina K. Findlay (847) 384-4034 (312) 388-5241
Lauren Pearson (847) 384-4031 (708) 227-1773

Art Exhibit Honors Those Injured in Combat and the Medical Personnel Who Treat Them

NEW ORLEANS— Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 5,000 U.S. service members lost their lives, and more than 36,000 have suffered from battle-related injuries. Organized as a tribute to these injured troops, their families, and the civilians, medical staff and orthopaedic surgeons who cared for them, an exhibit of 103 original works of art debuted today at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ (AAOS) 2010 Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

Wounded in Action: An Art Exhibition of Orthopaedic Advancements showcases artwork created by 75 artists, including 27 who are orthopaedic surgeons, in response to the painful, personal and inspiring stories of those injured in combat and their caregivers. The exhibit will be on display beginning at 1 p.m. on March 9, 2010, through March 13, 2010, at the Morial Convention Center, outside the La Nouvelle Ballroom.

“The injury statistics from war are staggering,” said AAOS President Joseph Zuckerman, MD. “About 70 percent of war wounds are musculoskeletal injuries, and 7 percent of those with major extremity wounds also sustain loss of limbs. But behind those stark numbers are courageous and inspiring people. They are the troops who protect our country and the orthopaedic surgeons and medical staff who treat them. They are the reasons why we coordinated this exhibit—to honor and recognize all they have done and all they continue to do.”

Examples of Artwork on Display

Home from War
Joseph A. Pearson
A New Orleans-based artist, Pearson served as an illustrator in the U.S. Army from 1976 to 1979. He was inspired to paint this piece after seeing a young veteran, who was an amputee, in a coffee shop. “I was moved by the sacrifice he’d made for America,” Pearson said.

Bring Me Your Injured
Col. James R. Ficke, MD, and Heather Ficke
Dr. Ficke and his daughter Heather worked together to create a piece of art commemorating the team effort it takes to save lives in combat situations. The basis for their work was a photograph Dr. Ficke took while serving as the senior medical officer in a combat support hospital in Iraq. Heather sketched a drawing based on that image. Dr. Ficke says he has “never had a more tangible sense of impact, nor treated a more deserving group of patients.”

We Honor the Fallen
Ret. Sgt. Peter J. Damon
An Iraq War veteran, Sgt. Damon lost both arms when the wheel assembly of a Blackhawk helicopter he was servicing exploded. The accident, which occurred at an air base outside Balad, Iraq, in October 2003, killed his partner. During rehabilitation, he learned how to eat, bathe and dress himself using his teeth and a prosthesis created for his left arm. Within three months, he was drawing again. “It has really evolved from therapy to a passion that consumes most of my time,” said Sgt. Damon. He was inspired to paint this piece on Memorial Day, when his son’s Cub Scout pack was asked to plant flags at local cemeteries.

Learning to Walk
Cmdr. Patricia L. McKay, MD
Dr. McKay was deployed for three months to the Northern Arabian Gulf in 2003 with the USNS Comfort, a hospital ship that serves as a trauma center. The painting is from a moment she witnessed on the ship when a Navy physical therapist supported a teenage Iraqi girl, who lost her leg in the war, as she learns to walk with crutches. “This moment has stayed with me—one young woman reaching out to another whose life is so different and whose future is so uncertain,” said Dr. McKay.

The AAOS, which sponsored this exhibition in partnership with the Orthopaedic Research Society, the Orthopaedic Trauma Association and the Society of Military Orthopaedic Surgeons, supports several research events and programs to advance the care of service members. The area of war injury research, particularly for upper and lower extremities, has led to significant discoveries in recent years. These include advancements in the function of prosthetic limbs, improved bone and soft tissue healing after injuries from explosive devices and treatments that minimize infection in contaminated war wounds.

A group of orthopaedic surgeon artists participating in the exhibit will donate proceeds from the sale of their art to support AAOS educational initiatives through the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation.


Wounded in Action: An Art Exhibition of Orthopaedic Advancements

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