Physical trauma is a serious physical injury that could be life-threatening. Common causes of physical trauma include car accidents, burns, drowning, explosions, crush injuries, gunshot wounds, falls and severe beatings. The outlook and chance of recovery vary greatly, depending on the extent of the injuries, the patient's health at the time and how quickly treatment is received.

Immediate problems associated with major trauma can include blood loss, brain damage, breathing difficulty and severe pain. Patients must be quickly assessed to identify their injuries and to determine which ones are the most serious. The examination must also include checking for potential complications and secondary injuries. For example, issues like brain damage or internal bleeding are not always immediately obvious.

Some common type of traumatic injuries include:

  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Amputation
  • Facial trauma
  • Crush Injury
  • Concussion
  • Broken Bone
  • Skull fracture
  • Cuts and puncture wounds
  • Collapsed lung
  • Burns
  • Electrical injury

Trauma care providers can include paramedics, emergency room doctors, nurses and trauma surgeons. These professionals need to be able to act quickly to assess and care for a patient, sometimes in chaotic and upsetting situations. Hospitals are accredited and designated as Level I, II, III or IV Trauma Centers based on the care they are able to provide.


Trauma victims often need immediate, life-saving treatments like IV fluids and blood transfusions to manage blood loss, ventilation if they cannot breathe on their own and bandaging to stop or slow bleeding. They may even need resuscitation if their breathing or heart has stopped.

A variety of medications may be required, depending on the exact injury and risk of infection. Surgery is also often needed to repair broken or fractured bones, internal damage or brain or spinal cord injuries.

In many trauma cases, ongoing physical rehabilitation is needed for successful recovery.
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