Injury and Trauma Research Program

Every year in Australia, more than half a million people end up in hospital from injuries. That’s one person each minute.

While injuries are more common in people over the age of 65, injuries are the leading cause of death for people aged 1-44.

Overall, males have higher rates than females for both injury hospitalisations and deaths. 

Sadly, more than 13,400 people die each year in Australia from their injuries.

Modern advancements in trauma care have meant that more lives are now saved. However, the knock-on effect means that more people are also admitted to hospital where it’s common for survivors to experience serious complications. This can lead to extended hospital stays, long-term disabilities, worse quality of life and reduced life expectancy. 

The most common injuries in Australia occur due to falls, transport-related collisions, workplace and recreational injuries, and from self-harm or interpersonal violence. 

Our best strategy is to prevent injuries from happening in the first place. If injuries do occur, our efforts focus on minimising the chance of death and severe disability.

Our program targets:

  1. Leading causes of death and complications in trauma patients 

  1. Improving care for severely injured patients. 

The HMRI Injury and Trauma Research Program aims to improve the lives of people affected by injuries and reduce the burden of injuries on our healthcare system and society.  

Research Areas: 

Our team of researchers are passionate about having real-world impact in our community, specifically on injury and physical trauma patients. It means our research is practical, measurable, clinically focused and patient centred. 

Our four key areas of research are: 

  1. Injury prevention: employing epidemiological data reporting and analysis to generate targeted injury prevention initiatives. 
  2. Improved trauma surgery: engaging in observational studies, basic science cell biology studies and clinical trials. 
  3. In-hospital injury-related complications prevention: associated with high morbidity and mortality, we engage in observational clinical studies, diagnostic/prognostic biomarker development and clinical trials.  
  4. Improved long-term functional outcomes for injured patients: engaging in observational studies that lead to clinical trials.

 

Our frontline workers in action 

In a high-income country like Australia, the journey for a trauma patient is relatively standardised. 

When an injury occurs and help is called, the patient is transported by ambulance or helicopter to the nearest major or regional trauma centre/hospital. 

Depending on their level of injury, the patient may remain at that hospital, or be transferred to a higher-level Trauma Centre, such as the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle. 

Because Trauma Centres are staffed with a range of medical, nursing and allied health specialists around the clock, these facilities are best positioned to support and care for trauma patients. 

Experiencing physical trauma can affect people of all ages and cause lifelong impact. 

As clinicians, we aim to identify all life-threatening injuries within the first 10 minutes and all other injuries shortly thereafter. 

Some trauma patients require immediate life-saving interventions, blood transfusions, and emergency surgical operations. These people will likely need to be admitted into the Intensive Care Unit for life support.  

On average, a trauma patient typically with mild head injury or one broken bone or with some rib fractures will spend five days in the hospital and require assistance with getting around and pain relief.

More severely injured patients may spend months in hospital, undergo dozens of operationa and require ongoing rehabilitation and may even need lifelong care. Severely injured patients will be affected by their intiital injury for well over 12 months.

With so many different combinations of injuries, each patient must be attended to in a specific way tailored to their needs.  

 

Research Innovations and Discovery

We’ve identified a general misconception around the limited opportunities for medical research to benefit injured patient outcomes.  

Traumatic injuries are not perceived as a disease by the public or by health professionals, but they have all the features of an acute disease, which frequently leads to a long-term chronic condition compromising quality of life.  

Thankfully, across the last few decades, research has resulted in improved injury and trauma care – specifically around resuscitation strategies and surgical and critical care practices. This has led to a significant reduction in deaths and disabilities.  

Because our team is based at the John Hunter Hospital, a Level 1 verified Trauma Centre that admits the highest volume of injured patients in NSW, our Research Program has the privilege to positively impact many injured patient's lives. 

In the last 18 years, major trauma survival at John Hunter Hospital has increased from 86% to 92%. This is the currently the highest rate in Australia and New Zealand.

Our approach to clinical care and research is both personalised and holistic with a unique opportunity to conduct large-scale clinical trials and monitor injured patients across each stage of their entire journey from injury to recovery.  

This includes: 

  • Pre-hospital 
  • Emergency care 
  • Surgery 
  • Intensive care, and 
  • Rehabilitation (including when they return home).
Leadership Team

Program Lead/Chair: Professor Zsolt Balogh  

Deputy Program Leads: Dr Gabrielle Briggs, Dr Natalie Enninghorst  

Senior Representative: Conjoint Associate Professor Cino Bendinelli  

MCR Representative: Dr Gabrielle Briggs  

ECR Representative: Dr Francesco Amico  

Student Representative: Hannah Black 

Consumer Representative: TBA 

Awards

Zsolt Balogh

  • John Mitchell Crouch Fellowship, 2015 | Read more
  • Award for Service to Orthopaedic Research, 2015 | Read more 

Zsolt Balogh
Research Program :
  • Injury and Trauma Research Program
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Dr Francesco Amico
Research Program :
  • Injury and Trauma Research Program
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Dr Michael (Mike) Anscombe
Research Program :
  • Injury and Trauma Research Program
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Research Program :
  • Injury and Trauma Research Program
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Conjoint Associate Professor Cino Bendinelli
Research Program :
  • Injury and Trauma Research Program
Research Topics :
Research Program :
  • Injury and Trauma Research Program
Research Topics :