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Identifying injury agent, length and type is essential to prope

April 12, 2004|by Christine L. Moats

In the United States, injuries account for 36.9 million visits to hospital emergency departments annually. Injury can result from the body's exposure to various types of energy.

According to Joan Fortney, manager of trauma/EMS at Washington County Hospital, the type of wound varies depending on injuring agent and the length of exposure to the energy. The effects of the injury also are dependent on the individual's location, age, sex and underlying health status.

"It is important to determine the type or mechanism of the injury," Fortney said. "This information can assist medical personnel to determine the extent and nature of the injuries." Injuries from blunt trauma often are caused by a combination of forces such as deceleration, shearing, crushing and compression. These type of injuries are often more serious as the extent of injury is often less obvious initially. Common causes of blunt trauma injuries include motor vehicle crashes, falls, assaults, and contact sports.

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The severity of injuries caused by objects penetrating the body is dependant on the type of penetrating object and the body tissue that is injured.

"While these injuries are easily apparent, they often are hard to evaluate depending on the depth of penetration," Fortney said. Common penetrating injuries are caused by firearms, knives and explosions.

Exposure to substances also can result in traumatic injuries. Thermal injuries result from prolonged exposure to hot or cold. The severity depends on the amount of time and the body region that is exposed. Inhalation injuries occur when the lungs are exposed to toxic substances such as carbon monoxide from combustion and chemicals or pesticides.

- Sources: "Resources for Optimal Care of the Injured Patient," by the Committee on Trauma of The American College of Surgeons; "Trauma Nursing Core Course Manual," by the Emergency Nurses Association; "Trauma Nursing: From Resuscitation through Rehabilitation" by Karen A. McQuillan, Mary Beth Flynn, Robbi Lynn Hartsock, Kathryn Truter Von Rueden, Eileen Whalen, W. B. Saunders and Kathryn Truter Von Rueden.

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