How Medical Treament Changed Warfare

Briyanna Henry

October 23, 2014

History 9.4

Medical treatment in ww1 changed warfare. The way soldiers were injured and taken care of in World War 1 is, in some ways still being used today.


The war of 1914-1918 was a bloody, devastating 4 years. Many were wounded and even died. Many wounds were recorded to be in the legs. Back then amputation was commonly used to help soldiers. Common wounds were also at the head. Because of the high number of head wounds they started to wear helmets. Injuries in the arms were mainly caused by artillery shells. There weren’t a high number of torso wounds. This was because soldiers who were shot there didn’t make it to the hospital so it wasn’t in the records. Trench foot was another wound that happened to a lot of soldiers. Water that would be soaking in their boots would start to make their feet soggy and eventually decay. Soldiers weren’t only wounded physically; they were wounded emotionally as well. An abundant of soldiers had trauma called shell shock. Shell shock in a trauma developed from being in a lot of war activity. Soldiers also became diagnosed with shell shock when they were in bombardment. These were the usual injuries that the soldiers had to face.

Who Took Care of the Soldiers?

Yes, soldiers were hurt but it doesn’t mean they were all just left to die. Soldiers were taken care of by members of the Red Cross. The Red Cross was an organized group or organization that helped treat the injured soldiers. In fact the main purpose of the Red Cross was to help military medical services in treating the wounded. Most of the people in the Red Cross were women. Men were more likely to serve in the war. The hospitals that the soldiers went to were neutral meaning they treated both sides. The members in Red Cross were taught the in first aid and other categories like nursing and sanitation. Women were trained as dentist and physicians as well as first aid. The male members that were a part of the Red Cross were put in transportation. They were often under attack when getting the injured in the front line. The Red Cross provided for and supplies for the soldiers that were being treated. The Red Cross wasn’t really high on money. They relied on donations and did fundraisers for money. Red Cross raised $21,885,035 for the hospitals. They spent $20,058,355 for medicine clothing and after care for the soldiers. Those who entered the medical system were given wound labels to identify what they were wounded from and where.

What Kind of Treatment Did the Soldiers Get?

Soldiers that were injured were carried in a stretcher bearer out of the battle field. Casualties that were hurt really badly were brought to dressing stations for further treatment. Besides amputation, the soldiers had blood transfers to survive as well. They would take the blood from someone else and transfer it into the wounded. The casualties were the first to get medical help or attention. Most likely a wound would be infected the moment it happened. Back then the nurses didn’t have a lot of equipment to treat the soldiers. “Doctors used all the chemical weaponry in their arsenal to prevent infection.” – See more at: There was a lot of practice debridement. Debridement was the cutting away of the tissue around a wound. This was a common way of preventing infection. Wound was washed with carbolic lotion. “Other wounds were ‘bipped’. ‘Bipp’ (bismuth iodoform paraffin paste) was smeared over severe wounds to prevent infection.” – See more at: Soldiers that developed “shell shock” were treated at psychiatrists or asylums. If the treatment didn’t work they were sent home. They were mainly sent home for further surgeries of electro therapy. The main goal for the nurses was to get the soldiers back on the field. Though all the treatments used had an impact on the soldiers, the main treatment was rest and recuperation. Out of all the treatments that was the best.

How Did Medical Treatment Change Warfare?

Warfare is the engagement in or activities involved in war or conflict. Medical treatment changed warfare by advancing over the years. In fact, some of the techniques used in ww1 are still being used today.” Developments in wound shock treatment in the First World War – from the use of saline, through direct donor-to-patient blood transfusion and the development of techniques to store blood – have helped shape much of modern practice.” The way soldiers were treated back in 1914-1918 were used to develop the way soldiers were treated today. Today we have fewer worries on infections because of the antibiotics found in 1928. A technique used by Carrel-Dakin back in ww1 is continually used throughout the 21 century. The hygiene practices that happened in ww1 furthered the modern way of containing infection. Down to the trauma of shell shock helped the modern day nurses deal with post-traumatic stress. All of these little discoveries that happened during ww1 shaped the way we medically treat soldiers today. This is how medical treatment changed warfare.

Cited Work

First World War



trench foot


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s