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1. Psychol a powerful shock that may have long-lasting effects
2. Pathol any bodily injury or wound
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an externally caused injury to the human or animal organism. Depending on its cause, a trauma may be classified as mechanical, chemical, or thermal (as in burns or frostbite), as a barotrauma (caused by abrupt changes in atmospheric pressure), as an electrotrauma, or as a combination of types of traumas—for example, a mechanical trauma combined with a burn. Depending on the duration of the traumatic event, a trauma may be either acute or chronic. Traumas may also be classified according to the circumstances in which they occur—for example, nonoccupational injuries, industrial accidents, or injuries resulting from athletic activity or military combat.

A mechanical trauma may be an open wound, or it may be a closed injury, with the skin remaining intact; it may be uncomplicated, or it may develop such complications as suppuration, osteomyelitis, sepsis, or traumatic toxicosis; it may be isolated (that is, limited to one organ or part of an extremity) or extensive (with injury to several organs or parts); or it may involve a combination of simultaneous injuries to the internal organs and the muscu-loskeletal system. Specific types of traumas are contusions, sprains, dislocations, fractures, compression of tissues and internal organs, concussions, and ruptures. They may be accompanied by hemorrhage, edema, inflammation, or necrosis (gangrene) of the tissues. Severe and extensive traumas are accompanied by shock and may be fatal. A special type is psychic trauma—a term denoting an emotional shock, and particularly one due to traumatic verbal activity. Psychic traumas may lead to morbid reactions in the psychic and autonomic systems, such as depression and neurosis.

Timely first aid and treatment may prevent severe posttraumatic complications. The various types of traumas are treated by appropriate medical specialists.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


An injury caused by a mechanical or physical agent.
A severe psychic injury.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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