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Trauma is a serious injury or shock to the body. It can affect a person's ability to function. Sometimes it can be fatal. It needs to be treated right away.
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Some causes of trauma include:
Trauma is more common in people aged 1 to 44 years. Other things that raise the risk are:
Symptoms depend on the type or extent of injuries. They may include:
Emotional symptoms may be:
A medical team will assess your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It may include an exam of the chest, belly, pelvic area, arms or legs. Tests may be done on the brain and nervous system.
Other tests may include:
Imaging tests may be used to check the injured area. These may include:
Treatment depends on the cause, severity, or location of the injury. Options may be:
Severe injuries need to be stabilized. This is to help reduce further damage. It may require:
Some injuries may require surgery. This may be done right away or later. It depends on the severity of the damage. Examples are:
For some, recovery may be short (days or weeks). For others, it may take a long time (months or years).
In general, recovery and rehabilitation may include:
There are many ways to reduce the risk of trauma. Learn about and practice:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
National Safety Council
Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians
Trauma Association of Canada
Approach to the trauma patient. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/injuries-poisoning/approach-to-the-trauma-patient/approach-to-the-trauma-patient. Accessed February 24, 2021.
Khellaf A, Khan DZ, et al. Recent advances in traumatic brain injury. J Neurol. 2019;266(11):2878-2889.
Major trauma—emergency management. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/major-trauma-emergency-management. Accessed February 24, 2021.
Management of chronic spinal cord injury. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/management-of-chronic-spinal-cord-injury. Accessed February 24, 2021.
Traumatic spinal cord injury. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/traumatic-spinal-cord-injury . Accessed February 24, 2021.
Trauma fact sheet. National Institute of General Medical Sciences website. Available at: https://www.nigms.nih.gov/Education/pages/Factsheet_Trauma.aspx. Accessed February 24, 2021.
Last reviewed January 2021 by Mary Beth Seymour, RN Last Updated: 2/24/2021