Trauma: Definition, Types, Causes, Symptoms, First Aid and General Treatments

It is an injury that can occur in any part of the body due to the mechanical effect of an external agent or object that occurs abruptly or violently.

Causes of trauma

The leading causes of trauma are:

  • Falls
  • Hits.
  • Car accidents.
  • Burns.
  • Gun wounds.
  • Electric shock.
  • Drowning
  • Natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and fires, among others.

Main types

Head trauma

The most common causes include traffic accidents, sports, work injuries, falls, or physical violence.


Symptoms may not be revealed immediately after the accident; the first 72 hours after its occurrence is essential.

  • Headache.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Decreased lucidity.
  • Balance changes.
  • Changes in behavior and consciousness.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting
  • External or internal bleeding (bleeding from the nose or ear).
  • Alteration of the pupil diameter (dilation of a pupil).
  • Loss of sensation or paralysis on one side of the body.
First aid
  • Alert emergency services immediately.
  • Assess vital functions (degree of consciousness and ventilation).
  • Examine the head through thorough and complete palpation to investigate occult trauma to the skull or injury to the scalp.
  • Cover wounds if they exist. In case of bleeding from the nose or ear, these should not be plugged.
  • Do not give anything to drink.
  • Surveillance of vital functions promoting transport to the hospital.

Spinal cord trauma

The most common causes are traffic accidents, run-over, falls, extreme sports, diving in shallow water, or direct blows to the spine.


Most people who suffer from spinal cord injury without spinal involvement appear at the onset, obvious neurological signs of spinal cord injury such as decreased muscle strength, decreased or altered sensation, and functional impotence.

First aid

Alert emergency services immediately.


Maintain the immobility of the victim, guaranteeing immobilization of the head until the arrival of the ambulance, using their own hands, kneel behind the victim’s head, carefully slide both hands under the neck of the victim without moving the head, support the neck of the victim and stabilize the lead until the arrival of the emergency services.

Monitor vital functions.

Chest trauma

The causes can be the consequence of traffic accidents, falls (blunt trauma), firearms, knives, or penetrating objects (open trauma).


Injuries to the thorax can be diverse such as fractures of the sternum, fractures of ribs, lung injuries, and cardio-respiratory arrest. In terms of symptoms, there may be local pain, rapid and superficial ventilation, and hemorrhage.

In the case of a simple fracture of the ribs, there are complaints of severe pain at the injury site that worsens with movement or palpation, and the victim refers to ventilatory difficulty.

Complicated rib fracture results from the rupture of one or more ribs in two contiguous places with a mobile flap, causing a paradoxical movement, which can cause perforation in adjacent organs.

First aid

In the event of a simple rib fracture: the rescuer should place the victim in a sitting and lying position, reassure and expire ventilation slowly and deeply.

In the case of a mobile rib retailer situation: since the pain is more intense, the rescuer must stabilize the paradoxical movement of the segment, using a ligating roller that must be placed on the part at the inspiratory moment.

In other words, in the sinking phase of the segment, this roller is fixed with adhesive strips and never with bandages or tissue bands so as not to compromise thoracic expansion and limit ventilation.

For open chest trauma: If there is a superficial wound, a dressing should be placed.

In the case of a deep wound, a compress should be placed on the wound and waterproofed with a fixed plastic with adhesive arranged in the window, leaving the lower edge free to function as an escape valve for the air that accumulates inside the thorax.

Carry out strict surveillance of vital functions and, in the event of cardio-respiratory arrest, immediately start basic life support maneuvers (link).

Abdominal trauma

It results from road accidents, sports accidents, falls (blunt trauma), knives, or firearms (open trauma).


The injuries caused are varied from fracture of the bones of the basin, rupture of hollow organs, fracture of solid organs, or rupture of the diaphragm with the invasion of the abdominal organs in the rib cage.

In terms of symptoms, there may be localized or reflex pain, generalized abdominal muscle contraction (table abdomen), and internal or external bleeding.

First aid

Alert for emergency services is essential, and early arrival at the hospital for surgical intervention is necessary. The rescuer should inspect and palpate the abdomen. In case of injury, a dressing should be made, and in case of the presence of penetrating objects, they should never be removed but rather immobilized.

In evisceration (exit of viscera), the correct attitude is not to move and cover with compresses moistened in physiological saline, do not give anything to drink, and monitor vital functions while waiting for transport to the hospital.

General treatments

The most common traumas affect both the skin, producing wounds that can be cut or perforating, as well as the deeper tissues causing bruises, contusions, stretching, wear of the muscles, ligaments, or even fractures.

Treatment of patients with any trauma begins before they arrive at the hospital or emergency room. Basic first aid measures and wound care are essential in stabilizing the victim.

These measures are put into practice by professionals such as firefighters and paramedics. However, anyone who has some training in this regard can help the victim.

The first aid for a trauma patient is as follows: assess the state of consciousness and the airways, check if the person is breathing and check the pulse, control bleeding through direct compression on the injured blood vessel, and limit movements to avoid the appearance of possible fractures present.

Within a hospital, several interventions are performed to maintain the individual’s life; existing injuries are evaluated and diagnosed.

Medical help

Regardless of the trauma presented, transportation to the hospital should always be provided for examination and observation, and detection of internal injuries.