Trauma is a medical term used to describe a personal injury with multiple impact to the human body. This can occur through an accident or injury inflicted intentionally when someone attempts to harm another. Physical trauma is a principal cause of death among Americans between the ages of 1 and 38 years of age. In the landmark paper, “Accidental Death and Disability: The Neglected Disease of Modern Society,” (1966) the Regents of The American College of Surgeons called attention to a devastating national problem. The result was that the Federal Government pumped millions of dollars into 300 designated regions to improve emergency medical care. Twenty years later, The Committee on Trauma Research and National Research Council’s Commission on Life Sciences conducted a national study on trauma injury with the following significant findings:
Trauma accounts for more years of life lost in the United States than cancer and heart disease. In 1982, there were about 165,000 deaths due to trauma. Recent studies by the department of Health and Human Services indicate that the death rate for Americans between the ages of 15 and 24 years of age has increased 50 percent since 1976. Motor vehicle accidents account for 40 percent of all deaths among white Americans.
In large urban areas, Black males have a 1 in 20 chance of ever seeing the age of 30 because of homicide. Urban violence is a serious problem with murders increasing from 8,464 in 1960 to 26,000 in 1982. The overall death rate of American teenagers and young adults is 50 percent higher than that of their counterparts in other industrialized societies. For each death in this country, there are at least two cases of permanent disability. Trauma kills our young and most productive citizens. It is estimated that the cost of death, disability and loss of productivity are in excess of 230 million dollars in lost wages. While the overall mortality rate for cancer has increased by only 6 percent from 1950 through 1977, the death rate for accidents has risen approximately one percent per year. These facts make trauma the number one health and social problem facing young Americans today.