Phases of Acute Trauma Care

Our care starts when a patient arrives at our Emergency Department and Trauma Center and ends when they are successfully rehabilitated. We track each patient's progress to help ensure continuity of care throughout the recovery stage.

Emergency Department and Trauma Center

phases of trauma care

Most trauma patients are transported directly to the Emergency Department and Trauma Center. There, the first priority is to quickly identify and treat life- or limb-threatening injuries. Less urgent treatment begins as soon as injuries have been thoroughly evaluated. Procedures may include stabilizing broken bones and repairing wounds. Trauma victims may remain in the Emergency Department for several hours for close observation.


Life- or limb-threatening injuries may require immediate surgical repair. If you have such an injury, you'll be taken directly to the operating room. If you don't need immediate surgery, you'll be admitted to the hospital so your surgeon and anesthesiologist can meet with you and your family to discuss your options and their recommendations.


If you have serious injuries but don't need or can't have surgery right away, you may be admitted to the intensive care unit. Trauma patients who need intensive care go to The Kessler Family Burn and Trauma ICU. The staff of these units specialize in the care of trauma patients. Many orthopaedic trauma patients are admitted directly to our Orthopaedic Unit. While you're hospitalized, your trauma team will visit each day to review your progress and update your care plan. Care is focused on pain management, healing, and prevention of complications such as pneumonia, deep vein thrombosis, infection, and post-traumatic arthritis.

A patient with multiple injuries may have multiple physicians such as surgeons who manage serious injuries to the chest, abdomen, and blood vessels or neurosurgeons who manage injuries to the brain or spinal cord. One team will assume the role as your “primary service” team.


Your recovery starts in the hospital and continues at a rehabilitation hospital, skilled nursing facility, or your own home.

  • Patients who still need a considerable amount of care may need time in a rehabilitation hospital unit such as our Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Unit.
  • If you need less medical supervision but are not independent enough to return home, a transitional care unit or a skilled nursing facility such as The Highlands at Brighton may be the right choice.
  • If it's safe for you to continue your recovery at home but your mobility is limited, local home-health agencies, such as Visiting Nurse Service, can often arrange for therapist visits.
  • Most patients will progress to rehabilitation therapy through an outpatient clinic. Their goal is to return the patient to a quality of life as similar as possible to what they had before their injuries. Our Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Division program includes a complete outpatient component at our Clinton Crossings multiple-service location.