By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — More than 170 people were injured in the bombings, many with nails and other sharp objects placed in the devices. Some of the injured lost limbs. It was like they were in a combat zone.

Many of the Boston patients are now recovering from the devastating aftermath of the bomb blast. Veterans at the Philadelphia VA know what they’re going through, including one who has a message of hope for the victims.

John O’Brien lost a leg and an arm when his fighter jet crashed in 1993. Traumatic amputations are what many of the bombing victims in Boston are now confronting.

“They’re scared, terrified. It was shocking at first,” remembered John.

He says it was a long and difficult process, but now that he’s outfitted with state-of-the-art prosthetics, he says there’s nothing he can’t do, including tie his shoes.

He says the Boston victims are facing a tough journey, learning to live without limbs.

“Be patient with the whole process, accept it and move on,” said John.

“We don’t want to use the word ‘disabled,’” said Dr. Keith Robinson, with the Philadelphia VA Medical Center.

He says the injuries in Boston are commonly seen by soldiers and combat doctors.

Like John, who had 12 surgeries, many of the Boston patients will need multiple operations and plenty of psychological support.

“Putting people back together is a series of phases. The loss of a body part, amputation, is clearly emotional, that loss reaction we encourage,” said Dr. Robinson.

He says most amputees will eventually be outfitted and taught to live with prosthetics.

“We’re not considering this person with amputation as disabled. We can make you a functional person,” said Dr. Robinson.

Like John, he’s an amputee role model. From the depths of loss, he reclaimed his life, including being a marathon runner.

“I can only imagine what it was like for all those families,” said John.

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