Who are we?
The research team from the Centre for Trauma and Neurosciences is based at the Blizard Institute and The Royal London Hospital. The Royal London Hospital is one of London’s major trauma centres and is probably the busiest trauma centre in Europe.
Evidence shows that patients with severe injuries have a greater rate of survival if they are treated in hospitals which have trauma expertise. The London Trauma Network was initiated in April 2010 to ensure that severely injured patients within the area are not taken to their nearest hospital but to the most appropriate hospital for their needs.
Good care of trauma patients requires excellence at every step from pre-hospital, emergency resuscitation and surgery though to critical care management and rehabilitation. Successful outcomes are dependent upon the system of medical care. Trauma research is part of that system and is essential if we are to make advances in the treatment of trauma patients.
What is trauma?
Trauma is the disease caused by physical injury. Trauma has only been called a “disease” since the 1970s. Although it seems strange at first, it is the correct term to use. Severe injury triggers a sequence of changes within the cells of the body and can lead to critical and disabling illness. Just like other diseases such as cancer, HIV and heart disease we need to understand these changes to improve survival and recovery.
What are the causes of trauma?
Severe injuries occur from a variety of different mechanisms. In the UK, the most common incidents are falls from height and collisions with motor vehicles either as drivers, passengers, pedestrians or cyclists. Trauma also occurs from injuries with weapons such as knives or guns. Unpredictable events like train crashes and natural disasters can injure many people at the same time.
How big is the problem?
Traumatic injury kills more people below the age of 45, than any other disease process. In the UK, it accounts for 18,000 deaths per year. We admit around 2200 patients every year at the Royal London Hospital.
For every patient who dies several more become disabled and cannot return to work or conduct their normal daily activities.
When you combine the loss of earnings with the medical treatment and long-term care some patients require, the socioeconomic cost of treating trauma patients is huge.