Queen Mary University of London’s Barts Centre for Trauma Sciences (C4TS) has today launched the new website Aftertrauma.org, the UK’s most comprehensive online resource dedicated to helping trauma survivors – and their families, friends and carers – on their long and complex recovery journey.
The website Aftertrauma.org provides:• A forum for patients, families and friends to connect and improve support, both in hospital and once discharged• Information on the physical and emotional impact of traumatic injuries• Information on the recovery journey• Practical advice on where survivors and their families can access help locally
The C4TS is a world-leading research and education institute for traumatic injury treatments, established through funding from Barts Charity. Traumatic injury refers to physical injuries of sudden onset and severity which require immediate medical attention. For example; road collisions, falls, cycling accidents or violent assaults or accidents.
Karen Hoffman, Occupational Therapist and Senior Research Fellow at Queen Mary University of London’s CT4S, explains the need for the website: “Through my many years of working with patients with traumatic injury, I’ve repeatedly seen patients and families feeling shocked, worried and confused during their time in hospital despite the excellent care they receive in major trauma centres. The situation often gets more stressful once people leave the hospital due to a lack of support and reassurance, with patients and families often feeling lost, alone and overwhelmed.
“People who experience a traumatic injury, and their families, often find their lives are changed forever. Some people survive with permanent disabilities but the unseen emotional trauma is often neglected. Until now, there has been no definitive place where people can access information about their injuries or find support from people with similar experiences.
“It is well recognised that there simply isn’t enough trauma after-care and support in the UK, with limited access to rehabilitation and counselling. Getting back to a normal life often depends largely on family support or the local resources available. Our goal is for Aftertrauma.org to make the search for help far easier, and for those facing the same challenges to find each other and give support.”
Many people are unaware of how common traumatic injury is. Trauma is the third biggest cause of preventable death in any age group in England and Wales and the main cause of death in people under the age of 44.
• The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that major trauma accounts for more than 7 million deaths each year, with 20-50 million people suffering non-fatal injuries.• In England there are an estimated 48,000 major trauma cases each year and around 10,000 of these cases result in death. This annual death toll is the equivalent of 24 Boeing 747s disasters.• The initial NHS treatment costs following a trauma incident are estimated to be up to £400 million per year, with subsequent economic cost mounting to over £3.3 billion, 7% of the entire NHS budget.
Professor Karim Brohi, Head of the CT4S at Queen Mary University of London and Trauma Surgeon at The Royal London Hospital, Barts Health NHS Trust, comments: “No one wakes up in the morning and thinks ‘I’m going to be hit by a car today or fall from a second storey loft’. By its very nature, trauma is sudden and in the case of major trauma, you have narrowly escaped death. This is all extremely frightening for patients and families and the emotional impact cannot be underestimated.
“We hope Aftertrauma.org will take some of the fear and stress out of the traumatic injury recovery experience. Patients and carers will be able to easily and quickly understand what is happening – both in and out of hospital – and where help can be found – be it clinical, emotional, financial, legal, or relating to getting back in to work and daily living.”
Chris Woodhams, a trauma survivor who was treated by the trauma team at The Royal London Hospital, Barts Health NHS Trust, comments: “I know first-hand just how long, difficult and complicated the road to recovery is after an accident. The care I received was fantastic but I still would have really benefited from a resource like this, guiding me through the help on offer and connecting me with others who understand what I’m going through.”
The C4TS and Barts Charity relies on donations. It is crucial to increase our understanding of trauma so more lives can be saved. For more information on how Barts Charity supports trauma services and our new trauma appeal, visit http://bartscharity.org.uk/Page/Traumatic-injury-appeal-saving-lives-together.
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