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Major trauma is any injury that has the potential to cause prolonged disability or death. There are many causes of major trauma, blunt and penetrating, including falls, motor vehicle collisions, and stabbing and gunshot wounds. Depending on the severity of injury, quick management and transport to an appropriate medical facility (called a trauma center) may be necessary to prevent loss of life or limb. The initial assessment involves a physical evaluation and can also include the use of imaging tools to accurately determine a type of injury and to formulate a course of treatment. Various classification scales exist for use with trauma to determine the severity of injuries, which is used to determine the resources used and for statistical collection. The initial assessment is critical in determining the extent of injuries and what will be needed to manage an injury, and treating immediate life threats.
In 2002, unintentional and intentional injuries were the fifth and seventh leading causes of deaths worldwide, accounting for 6.23% and 2.84% of all deaths. For research purposes the definition is often based on an injury severity score (ISS) of greater than 15.

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