When assessing a High Impact Trauma (HIT) case, there are several things that your doctor will be considering and a number of things that will be discussed. Evaluations of HIT patients go from head to toe... literally.
Head: We are often concerned about evidence of possible head trauma, so, like in human emergency rooms, we often recommend hospitalized observation for 6-8 hours to make sure that signs of cerebral edema (brain swelling), or vascular injury (bleeding or bruising of the brain), don’t develop.
Chest: Injury to the chest could involve trauma to the lungs, the heart or an injury to the chest cavity that houses these two organs. Chest x-rays and ECG monitoring are often recommended to better evaluate for damage to this area.
Abdomen: The abdomen houses many organs and systems. Injury to the spleen or liver can cause abdominal bleeding. Tears in the kidney, ureters, bladder or urethra could cause uro-peritoneum, (free urine in the abdominal cavity). Trauma to the intestines or stomach could result in ingesta in the abdomen which can cause a potentially fatal peritonitis, (infection). To better evaluate the abdomen, your doctor may recommend an abdominal ultrasound and blood work.
Spine and Extremities (Limbs): HIT patients often suffer orthopedic injuries that prevent normal limb use. In addition to loss of motor function, injuries of the spine could also affect neurologic function of the bladder and colon. Radiographs of these areas may be indicated to help better assess the extent of orthopedic injuries.
While your patient is being assessed, there are a number of stabilization efforts often being made including but not limited to:
Pain Management... (lots of pain medications), Oxygen, Shock Therapy, Antibiotics
Because so many things can be happening at once, a lot of ground is often covered in a very short time. Sometimes decisions will need to be made quickly on your part to provided your doctor with consent to proceed with many of these procedures, and it can often be daunting and overwhelming.
We realize that while we do this very often, this is hopefully your first, (and only), time to ever go through such an event, and we will do our best to help guide you through things to help minimize any further “bumps in the road”.