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Artiss Symposium 2012: Evaluation and Treatment of Genital Injuries in Combat Warriors

The 2012 Artiss Symposium, “The Evaluation and Treatment of Genital Injuries in Combat Warriors,” was sponsored by the Department of Psychiatry at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC), the Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University and the Department of Urology, WRNMMC, Bethesda, MD.

Over the past 10 years the shattered bodies and psyches of our wounded warriors have come to the clinical staff at WRNMMC on a daily basis. Most of us have evaluated and treated patients who have suffered the onslaught of trauma and its impact on the psyche and soma. Many of us subscribe to assessing and responding to our patients with a biopsychosocial approach but in doing so we have often ignored the topic of genital injury because of the taboo associated with talking about this type of injury. As a result of this symposium, we hope to learn more about and discuss the psychiatric and medical risks associated with genital injuries in order to better care for patients, their spouses and families. To accomplish these goals many thoughts and questions must be addressed.

What does it mean to have a genital injury? What is it like? How do we talk to patients with genital injuries? How do we instill hope in those with devastating genital injuries? How do we address sexual function and fertility? How do we provide the education and tools to allow wounded warriors to direct their own healing? When and how can we develop therapeutic alliances so the patient and family feel they have an advocate? How do we collaborate more effectively with our colleagues to insure more effective treatment outcomes? How can we have a voice to help our veterans who need support once they leave WRNMMC?

With these questions and others in mind we have organized this ground breaking symposium and invited experts from the fields of Psychiatry, Psychology, Urology and Congress to learn from each others’ experiences and insights and to initiate and facilitate dialogue to help patients, families, and children. The following pages are a summary of the thoughts and discussion at this important conference.