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

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

Causes of trauma

The main causes of trauma are:

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

Main types

Head trauma

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


Symptoms may not be revealed immediately after the accident, the first 72 hours after its occurrence being important.

  • 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).
  • Perform an examination of 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.


In most cases, the majority of people who suffer from spinal cord injury without spinal involvement, appear at the time of 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 head 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 fracture of the sternum, fracture of ribs, lung injuries, cardio-respiratory arrest. In terms of symptoms, there may be local pain, rapid and superficial ventilation, hemorrhage.

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

Complicated rib fracture results from the fracture 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 segment 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 a 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) or from 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 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), internal or external bleeding.

First aid

Alert for emergency services is essential, early arrival at the hospital for surgical intervention is essential. 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 case of 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 cutting 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 type of trauma begins prior to their arrival at the hospital or emergency room. Basic first aid measures and wound care are of great importance in stabilizing the victim.

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

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 towards avoiding the appearance of possible fractures present.

Within a hospital several interventions are performed to maintain the life of the individual, 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.