Critical Care After Trauma

Essential care during your most critical time of need

Serious injuries require a team of critical care experts from many specialties to care for you. Your critical care team all work together to skillfully and quickly treat your injuries.

Critical care after a traumatic injury includes:

  • care after an operation
  • respiratory care
  • 24-hour monitoring
  • pain management during healing

Your Critical Care Team

Serious injuries require a full team working together. This may include:

  • emergency medicine physicians
  • neurosurgeons
  • neurologists
  • cardiovascular surgeons
  • radiologists
  • orthopedic surgeons
  • plastic surgeons

Types of Critical Care You May Receive

Depending on your injuries and medical needs, critical care after trauma may include:

Blood transfusions

Traumatic injuries can cause you to lose a lot of blood. This lowers your blood pressure to dangerous levels and keeps oxygen from reaching all parts of your body, including your brain.

Blood transfusions help return your blood pressure and the amount of blood in your body to normal levels. It lowers your risk for further injuries, including brain damage or death.

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)

Many traumatic injuries affect your heart and lung function, keeping your body from getting the oxygen it needs. ECMO is a machine that performs your heart and lung functions until your body is properly healed.

It works by pumping blood out of your body and into the machine. It adds oxygen to the blood while carbon dioxide is removed. Your blood is then pumped back into your body so can deliver oxygen to your cells.

Neuro-critical intensive care

When a traumatic brain injury happens, a team of specialists will provide care to help reduce the effects of brain damage. Monitoring, including continuous electroencephalogram (EEG) monitoring and intracranial pressure monitoring, will be used. These measure your brain’s electrical activity and the pressure around your brain. This shows signs of brain damage or conditions that could cause further damage so your care team can act to provide immediate treatment when necessary.

Pain management

Traumatic injuries cause long-lasting pain that requires high levels of pain management, such as intravenous (IV) narcotics or opioids. In some cases, a temporary, medically induced coma may be used to control pain levels if they become too high to tolerate. The primary goal of pain management is to relieve your pain with the correct dosage of medicine and the fewest possible side effects.

Parenteral nutrition

Some injuries may affect your ability to eat or digest food normally. Having a tube placed for respiratory support also makes it impossible to swallow food. Parenteral nutrition delivers all the nutrients, carbohydrates, proteins and fats your body needs to function directly through an intravenous drip (IV).

Rehabilitation services

Your recovery from a traumatic injury may require physical therapy, speech therapy or occupational therapy, depending on your injuries. This can begin while you are still in critical care. Our therapists will come directly to your beside to get you on the road to recovery and help speed up your healing process.

Respiratory support

If your lungs cannot function on their own, you will be placed on a ventilator. A ventilator breathes for you by pumping air directly into your lungs. This may be done in a couple ways:

  • a small cut in the front of your neck to place a tube directly into your airway, or
  • a tube run through your nose and mouth into your airway

What to Expect for Critical Care After Trauma

Your Critical Care Team

Serious injuries require a full team working together. This may include:

  • emergency medicine physicians
  • neurosurgeons
  • neurologists
  • cardiovascular surgeons
  • radiologists
  • orthopedic surgeons
  • plastic surgeons

Types of Critical Care You May Receive

Depending on your injuries and medical needs, critical care after trauma may include:

Blood transfusions

Traumatic injuries can cause you to lose a lot of blood. This lowers your blood pressure to dangerous levels and keeps oxygen from reaching all parts of your body, including your brain.

Blood transfusions help return your blood pressure and the amount of blood in your body to normal levels. It lowers your risk for further injuries, including brain damage or death.

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)

Many traumatic injuries affect your heart and lung function, keeping your body from getting the oxygen it needs. ECMO is a machine that performs your heart and lung functions until your body is properly healed.

It works by pumping blood out of your body and into the machine. It adds oxygen to the blood while carbon dioxide is removed. Your blood is then pumped back into your body so can deliver oxygen to your cells.

Neuro-critical intensive care

When a traumatic brain injury happens, a team of specialists will provide care to help reduce the effects of brain damage. Monitoring, including continuous electroencephalogram (EEG) monitoring and intracranial pressure monitoring, will be used. These measure your brain’s electrical activity and the pressure around your brain. This shows signs of brain damage or conditions that could cause further damage so your care team can act to provide immediate treatment when necessary.

Pain management

Traumatic injuries cause long-lasting pain that requires high levels of pain management, such as intravenous (IV) narcotics or opioids. In some cases, a temporary, medically induced coma may be used to control pain levels if they become too high to tolerate. The primary goal of pain management is to relieve your pain with the correct dosage of medicine and the fewest possible side effects.

Parenteral nutrition

Some injuries may affect your ability to eat or digest food normally. Having a tube placed for respiratory support also makes it impossible to swallow food. Parenteral nutrition delivers all the nutrients, carbohydrates, proteins and fats your body needs to function directly through an intravenous drip (IV).

Rehabilitation services

Your recovery from a traumatic injury may require physical therapy, speech therapy or occupational therapy, depending on your injuries. This can begin while you are still in critical care. Our therapists will come directly to your beside to get you on the road to recovery and help speed up your healing process.

Respiratory support

If your lungs cannot function on their own, you will be placed on a ventilator. A ventilator breathes for you by pumping air directly into your lungs. This may be done in a couple ways:

  • a small cut in the front of your neck to place a tube directly into your airway, or
  • a tube run through your nose and mouth into your airway
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Accident victim grateful to be standing on his own two feet

Patient Stories for Critical Care After Trauma

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Accident victim grateful to be standing on his own two feet