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Trauma and Wound Healing

Complications of Trauma

Besides the danger posed by trauma and the risk of malnutrition, patients are also at risk for complications resulting from their injury. Wound repair may be impeded by the following complications:

  • Infection. Wound infection can occur in cases of extensive wound area, poor host defenses, and improper wound care.
  • Keloid. Keloid is a bulky protrusion of scar tissue formed as a result of abnormal collagen synthesis. It can spread to the adjoining skin.
  • Gangrene. Gangrene is dead wound tissue formed by the decay of body tissues. It can be caused by infection, blood clots, or lack of blood flow. This condition is most common in the extremities.
  • Rapid weight loss. This results from protein-calorie malnutrition.
  • Compromised immune system. The malnourished patient can quickly exhibit symptoms of decreased immune function, such as infection.

Extreme injuries can also provoke an uncontrollable inflammatory response, overwhelming vital organ systems like the heart and lungs. This life-threatening condition, known as systemic inflammatory response syndrome, is a major problem in the management of multiple traumas. While optimal levels of inflammation can clear debris and initiate healing, these reactions need to be regulated vigilantly. Enzymes and chemicals that dissolve dead tissue can also damage living tissue. If inflammation overwhelms the control mechanism, it can reach life-threatening proportions.

What You Have Learned So Far...

  • Trauma is a generic term for physical or chemical injury. The intensity of trauma ranges from an acute, life-threatening event to gradual, cumulative injuries.
  • The body's response to trauma involves both a local and systemic reaction. Inflammation, blood clotting, and immune system activation are all necessary elements of healing after trauma.
  • During trauma, the body functions at an enhanced physiological rate. The body's requirement for calories, protein, and nutrients is greatly enhanced, leading to a risk of malnourishment among trauma patients.
  • Nutritional supplementation is critical to helping the healing process.