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DVT: Not just in M-ATVs

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Posted by Courtney E. Howard

An editor at Military & Aerospace Electronics for a few years now, I have covered a wealth of topics and I have a few favorite "beats." Among them are vetronics, or electronic systems and devices employed in and on combat vehicles on land.

I enjoy writing an annual feature article on vetronics for Military & Aerospace Electronics. In covering the topic, this year especially, I became privy to photographs of the interior of combat vehicles employed in the field -- as well as replicas of those on the field which are currently being studied and the vetronics of which are being adapted by engineers at such technology firms as General Dynamics. In fact, General Dynamics management opened last month its EDGE Innovation Center that concentrates on combat vehicle electronics.

In any case, space within combat vehicles is at a premium. Today's vetronics are critical to mission success and soldier safety, and command a great deal of space, making for a cramped interior in which o ne or more soldiers must sit for extended periods.

Images of combat vehicle interiors caused me to remember David Bloom, a rising star at NBC News who traveled from the White House to become one of the most frequently-seen TV reporters on the Iraqi desert, according to an NBC representative.

The network was shocked when the 39-year-old Bloom died suddenly in Iraq, not from a battlefield injury but from an apparent blood clot that caused him to collapse and never regain consciousness.

Bloom was about 25 miles south of Baghdad and packing gear early Sunday to travel with the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division when he was stricken. He was airlifted to a nearby field medical unit and pronounced dead from a pulmonary embolism, said Allison Gollust, a spokeswoman for NBC News.

NBC News had built a special vehicle, dubbed the "Bloom-mobile," to send strikingly clear pictures of him riding atop a tank through the Iraqi desert.

Bloom told the Post. "You're sleeping with your knees propped up around you."

That may have been a risk factor: blood clots frequently form in legs when they've been immobilized and travel through the body, said Dr. Harold Palevsky, chief of pulmonary critical care with the University of Pennsylvania health system.

I, like others, cannot help but wonder how many soldiers have suffered the same fate, as a result of cramped quarters for days, weeks, and months at a time. Soldiers on the battlefield are not the only people falling victim to blood clots that start in their legs and travel to their lungs. Virtually anyone who spends excessive time at a desk also run the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT is defined as the formation of a blood clot (thrombus) in a deep vein.

Last week, I learned that a fellow editor had developed a clot in an artery in her leg that would have traveled to her heart and killed her, had she not gained the proper medical attention when she did. Had she waited a week to see if what she thought was a leg cramp subsided, she likely would have suffered a pulmonary embolism.

Her doctor told her that her only risk factor was that she spent significant time seated at a computer. That solitary factor could have led to her demise. She simply worked too long each day/night.

I know she is not the only one. Given today's economic climate, chances are good that you, too, must spend long days (and 0nights) in front of the computer, perhaps in order to do the work of three men.

Being inundated with work might be unavoidable, but DVT is avoidable. Be certain to stretch your legs every 15 or 20 minutes. Rather than send an internal e-mail message, perhaps deliver the message in person. Drink a lot of fluids at your desk, so your body will force you to make a trip to the lavatory periodically throughout the day. Something, anything to get the blood flowing through those legs. You too are a soldier, and we need you on the front lines.

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Welcome to the lighter side of Military & Aerospace Electronics. This is where our staff recount tales of the strange, the weird, and the otherwise offbeat. We could put news here, but we have the rest of our Website for that. Enjoy our scribblings, and feel free to add your own opinions. You might also get to know us in the process. Proceed at your own risk.

John Keller for MAE
John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Courtney Howard for MAE Courtney E. Howard is senior editor of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine. She is responsible for writing news stories and feature articles for the print publication, as well as composing daily news for the magazine's Website and assembling the weekly electronic newsletter. Her features have appeared in such high-tech trade publications as Military & Aerospace Electronics, Computer Graphics World, Electronic Publishing, Small Times, and The Audio Amateur.

John McHale for MAE John McHale is executive editor of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, where he has been covering the defense Industry for more than dozen years. During that time he also led PennWell's launches of magazines and shows on homeland security and a defense publication and website in Europe. Mr. McHale has served as chairman of the Military & Aerospace Electronics Forum and its Advisory Council since 2004. He lives in Boston with his golf clubs.