Trauma is a serious injury or
to the body. It is caused by a physical force, such as violence or an accident. The injury may be complicated by psychiatric, behavioral, and social factors. This can cause the injuries to be greater than just physical ones.
A medical team will assess your symptoms and medical history. A thorough physical exam will be done. It may include a chest exam, abdomen and pelvic exam, exam of extremities, and a neurologic exam. A psychological exam and/or suicide assessment may also be done.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with blood tests.
Your vital signs may be tested. This can be done with:
Treatment depends on the cause, severity, or location of the injury.
Immobilize and Stabilize the Injury
Severe injuries need to be immobilized to reduce the risk of further damage. Once this is complete, an assessment for life-threatening injuries or complications will be done. Stabilizing an injury may require:
For some, recovery may be short (days or weeks). For others, it may take a long time (months or years). This may include the use of assisted devices like a cane or wheelchair. Severe injuries, especially to the head, neck, and spinal cord, may require short- or long-term (or permanent) rehabilitation.
In general, recovery and rehabilitation includes one or more of the following:
Physical therapy—to maintain or regain as much movement as possible
Occupational therapy—to assist in everyday tasks and self-care
Respiratory therapy—to assist with breathing
Speech and swallowing therapy
Psychological therapy—to improve mood and decrease depression
Trauma fact sheet. National Institute of General Medical Sciences website. Available at:
Updated November 2012. Accessed December 28, 2015.