Boston Marathon Injured Will Have Long Recovery, But Patients Are Upbeat

​Eric Bluman, MD, PhD

ROSEMONT, IL (April 17, 2013) – The tragic events at the Boston Marathon put orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons on the front lines of treating patients injured at the historic race.

Boston hospitals, including the team at Brigham Foot & Ankle Center at Faulkner Hospital, were in the spotlight as part of the mass casualty response throughout the city. Many injuries were similar to those in wartime, and, with so many below the knee injuries, foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeons were in demand to treat many of the patients. According to the surgeons, the injuries involved all tissue layers of the extremity, with fractures, soft tissue loss, burns, and retained fragmentation. Treatment will require multiple phases, from initial stabilization, to multiple surgical procedures to repair bones and provide soft tissue coverage, then rehabilitation.

“Unfortunately, reconstruction is still just the start of the long road to recovery for these patients. For those that have surgeries without complications, they will still need to heal their wounds and start the lengthy rehabilitative process with physical and occupational therapy,” says Eric Bluman, MD, PhD, who was deployed as an orthopaedic surgeon in Iraq. “Many will suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder even after their wounds have healed and their physical function improves.”

Two of the Brigham foot and ankle surgeons have extensive experience in the treatment of blast injuries. Dr. Bluman and Tom Douglas, MD, both served as orthopaedic surgeons in the military, and have treated injuries caused by improvised explosive devices.

The patients, while seriously injured, are coping well, according to Christopher Chiodo, MD, Division Chief of the Brigham Foot & Ankle Service. “When I returned to town yesterday, I visited with some of the injured.  Despite everything they have been through, with very serious injuries and guarded prognoses, the patients remain upbeat and positive. They are truly inspirational.” 

The orthopaedic surgeons are used to treating injuries from marathon runners. They usually see strains, sprains, stress fractures and tendon problems, however, and were not expecting the injuries seen on Monday.

For more information on foot ankle conditions and their treatment, or to find a local orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon, visit the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society patient website at

About the AOFAS
The AOFAS promotes quality, ethical and cost-effective patient care through the education, research and training of orthopaedic surgeons and other health care providers. The Society creates public awareness for the prevention and treatment of foot and ankle disorders, provides leadership, and serves as a resource for government and industry as well as the national and international health care communities.​
About Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeons
Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons are medical doctors (MD and DO) who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries of the foot and ankle. Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons use medical, physical and rehabilitative methods as well as surgery to treat patients of all ages. Relying on four years of medical school training, five years of post-graduate training and often a fellowship in foot and ankle care, orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons perform reconstructive procedures, treat sports injuries, and manage and treat trauma of the foot and ankle.

Jennifer Hicks
Public Education Manager
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