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Improved trauma care could prevent disability after accidents

A significant number of disabilities result from traumatic injuries in car accidents or falls. A new study shows that the level of care received after a trauma could impact recovery rates and even prevent disability. While the research was conducted in Australia, it also applies to regionalized trauma care in Connecticut and throughout the United States.

High-level care combined with "organized trauma systems" where hospitals, emergency rooms, and state governments have coordinated plans improve a patient's chances for a better recovery. A Level 1 trauma center provides comprehensive care for traumatic injuries and it must meet other requirements, like having a specific number of surgeons and specialists on duty.

Of the patients injured in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and falls that damaged the head or spinal cord, research showed that victims treated at Level 1 trauma centers were 25% more like to survive and less likely to suffer from permanent disabilities. Of the 5,000 patients 35% had a "good recovery" and were either back to their healthy lives or back with minimal disruption.

In the U.S., 45 million people live more than an hour away from a Level I or Level II trauma center by ambulance or helicopter. This poses potential danger of long-term and permanent damage to victims of serious and catastrophic injuries caused by car accidents, truck accidents, collisions and falls. Getting patients to the right hospitals as quickly as possible can prevent serious injury and the long-term disability.

Source: Reuters, "High-level trauma care may limit disability," Amy Norton, May 5, 2012.

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