During the month of May each year, we celebrate National Trauma Awareness Month by honoring those who have suffered a traumatic injury as well as those who have positively contributed to their recovery. Each year there is a specific theme, and this year it is “Trauma is Everyone’s Business.” As the American Trauma Society describes, this month’s theme aims to “engage individuals, communities, and organizations in efforts to reduce the incidence of injuries and mitigate their impact.” Furthermore, during this month, individuals are encouraged to have educated conversations about the prominence of injury and trauma, as well as take steps to help limit these accidents from occurring. In this article, we will explore what trauma is, the common causes of it, and effective coping strategies and actions that can be taken to help reduce its effects.

What Is Trauma?

According to the American Psychological Association, trauma can be defined as an emotional response to a traumatizing or terrible event, such as an accident or abuse. As a result of this traumatic event, you are likely to exhibit symptoms such as shock, denial, flashbacks, anxiety, depression, and nausea. However, in the context of National Trauma Awareness Month, trauma can also be physical. Physical trauma can arise from a blunt or penetrating injury to the body, which requires medical attention and care.

Common Causes Of Trauma 

When looking at the primary causes of trauma there are a few events that stand out as the main contributors. These common causes of trauma include, but are not limited to:

  • Accidents (car, truck, motorcycle, pedestrian, etc.)
  • Falls
  • Gunshots and firearms
  • Sexual abuse
  • Prescription overdose 
  • Alcohol or drug overdose
  • Sports injuries (concussions)
  • Poisoning 

A recent study that included 19 years of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), analyzed the leading causes of death in the United States and found that unintentional injuries were the third leading cause of death. The study further uncovered that unintentional poisoning, motor vehicle accidents, drowning, and falls were the biggest contributors to the high unintentional death rate during this time.

How To Cope With Trauma

In looking at how to move forward with your life after experiencing a traumatic event, there is no cookie-cutter approach or “right” way to do it – everyone’s coping and recovery process will be unique and take varying amounts of time. However, there are some actions that are most commonly taken to help get you on the path to recovery following a traumatic injury. These coping mechanisms and actions include:

  • Getting professional medical care
  • Attending physical therapy 
  • Speaking with a licensed mental health professional
  • Surrounding yourself with supportive individuals
  • Establishing and maintaining a routine
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Let’s Support Our Medical Professionals & Trauma Survivors

During this month, do your part in spreading awareness about the prevalence of heedless and negligent injuries and deaths across the U.S. Together, we can help to reduce incident rates and honor our trauma center health care providers. Lastly, if you know someone who is a survivor of a traumatic injury or event, show your support and care for them.