What is physical trauma?
Physical trauma is a serious injury to the body. Two main types of physical trauma are:
- Blunt force trauma—when an object or force strikes the body, often causing concussions, deep cuts, or broken bones.
- Penetrating trauma—when an object pierces the skin or body, usually creating an open wound.
Surgery can also cause physical trauma, sometimes called a controlled injury.
Psychological trauma is an emotional or psychological injury. It usually results from an extremely stressful or life-threatening situation. For more information on psychological trauma, visit the National Institute of Mental Health's
Coping with Traumatic Events.
How has basic research improved trauma patient care?
Research on how the body responds to trauma has led to advances in the following areas:
- Fluid replacement, such as saline solution for dehydration, and blood or blood substitutes for blood loss
- Wound cleaning
- Infection control
- Nutrition support, such as vitamins that support wound healing
This means people who might have died from infection or blood loss before these advances have a better chance at survival today.