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Overview

While the Imperium has made many impressive technological gains over the millennia, medicine has remained remarkably similar in practice to the times before space travel. This is mainly due to the human(oid) body remaining the same, vulnerable to the same physical traumas as ever. Disease and bacteria meanwhile are constantly evolving and, despite the best efforts of generations of researchers, continue to multiply and attack humanoids to ensure their own survival.

Trauma

Great advances have been made in the field of physical trauma; in a hospital setting broken limbs or damaged tissue can be regenerated at a rapid rate, nerves can be reattached and regenerated and few people (at least, those who can afford the treatment) ever end up crippled from physical damage. Regeneration technology generally allows broken bones, which otherwise would have taken months to heal, to instead heal in weeks or, in the case of minor fractures, in days. In the case of lost or irreparably damaged limbs and organs, advances in cybernetics have allowed the development of fully-functional prosthetic replacements. Whilst results always vary, the most advanced (and, by definition, the most expensive) treatments can result in functionality surpassing that of the replaced body part. The most advanced epically facilities in the Imperium are located on core worlds like Chandra; the further from the Imperial Core one gets, the more 'frontier' the medicine becomes. Access to the best cyberneticists is reserved for the elite and wealthy 'back home'.

Disease

Disease continues to be treated primarily through the use of drugs but also other methods (bed rest, diet etc) of enhancing the body's natural immune system. Whilst many times over the course of Imperial history “experts” have predicted the eradication of various diseases, the pathogens continue to evolve and infect, leading to an unending arms race between doctors, creating stronger and more effective medication, and the disease's natural evolution. Currently, Professor Titus Aurelian is attempting to develop a nano-infusion system which would treat virus and bacteria infections by attacking them directly through injection of specifically tailored nanites into the bloodstream. Immunization continues to remain an important part of disease prevention; however, the vast size of the Imperium, with it's hundreds of billions of subjects spread across thousands of planets, makes achieving herd immunity virtually impossible. It is not unheard of for diseases long thought eradicated to surface on an outer planet, mutate and then sweep through the core planets until a new treatment is developed. This has led to such incidents as the Omalyx flu, which ravaged the Imperium in the immediate aftermath of the civil war. Some attributed the outbreak to the restoration of long dormant trade routes, thus enabling a mutated version of the flu to sweep the Imperium and kill more than a billion people. It should be noted that cross-species diseases are incredibly rare. Given the often radical biological differences between humans and xenoforms, and between different xenoform species, it is almost impossible for viruses, bacteria and diseases to 'jump ship' and infect a completely different biological system. In the entirety of the Imperium's existence this has only happened a handful of times and in one of those cases the disease was created in a laboratory. Xenobiology remains a rich field of research as scientists study why certain biological structures are immune to a particular disease and others are not.


Aging

Aging has also been fought through standardized genetic treatments, introduced centuries ago which extended the life expectancy and general health of the average Imperial citizen by decades. For those who can afford it there are additional treatments available which can further extend life expectancy; however, there are limits to far life can be extended. It is not yet possible to completely rejuvenate or replace the cellular structure of any lifeform and eventually, despite the best care available, a body will grown older, become more fragile and then, one day, it will stop. For humans, the average life expectancy is currently around 150 years, barring accident or injury. Those who have access to the best treatment can expect to live into their 200s. The oldest human on record was 297 years old, a remarkable achievement even considering the level of care available to the galaxy's so-called richest woman. Many who live into their hundreds often make use of cosmetic surgery allowing them to appear (relatively) young and healthy until their bodies eventually give out.

Psychology

Treatment of mental disorders continues to be an important aspect of medicine within the Imperium, especially given the lengthy life spans so many of it's citizens can now expect. Typically, disorders are treated with therapy or medication depending on the underlying cause of the disorder. Psychology professors at Chandra University are known to be experimenting with using psionically gifted people to attempt to treat a variety of mental disorders. Such treatment, however, remains highly experimental and given the limited number of psionics it appears unlikely such treatment would ever enter general usage.

Combat medicine

Owing to the recent Civil War there has been a great deal of renewed interest in combat medicine. Keeping trained soldiers alive long enough to be treated at a suitable medical facility and returned to service became a priority for both sides during the latter stages of the war when they began to suffer manpower crises due to the intensity and brutality of the conflict. As a result, battlefield medicine has evolved a great deal in recent decades. The care which can be provided on a battlefield (or on the spot during ship to ship combat) remains inferior to that which can be achieved in a properly outfitted medical facility thus leading to an emphasis on stabilization of the wounded long enough to allow them to be evacuated from the battlefield. Plasma burns remain the chief cause of death in ground combat; a person taking a direct hit to the chest or head from a plasma rifle is highly unlikely to survive. However, in battle most soldiers are typically fitted with combat armor and/or take advantage of cover. This means the majority of “hits”, whilst mission ending for the soldier, are not fatal provided they receive prompt attention from a medic and transportation to a treatment centre. A secondary cause of injury in ground combat, and the primary cause in space combat, is simple trauma. Burns, broken bones, blood loss, damage to internal organs from hard impacts etc. Provided the damage is not catastrophic the patient can generally expect to survive if they receive prompt stabilization from a medic and evacuation to a medical facility. Imperial combat medics are usually kitted with a standard medpac, usually a backpack, which contains all the equipment they are expected to utilise in the course of treating the wounded.The quantities of various items vary depending on the expected mission length and other factors but generally a medpac includes the following:

-Sterile gloves (multiple pairs)-IV kit for administering blood or drugs as needed.

-Field dressing kit, including bandages, tourniquets etc.

-Airway management kit, containing everything you required to keep an airway open and to allow breathing/and or to assist a patient in breathing.

-Combat medication including: pain management drugs (ironaline), sedatives, stimulants, etc.

-Field surgery kit, including scalpels, disinfectants etc.

-Personal Medical Assistant (PMA), a powerful palm-sized computer that can monitor a patient's vital signs and other important characteristics. It also has access to an extensive medical database and can be used to call for medical evacuations.

-Other items, such as: surgical tape, splints, safety pins, etc.----

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