Leading Trauma Care for 25 Years

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The night started off with a car full of friends on their way to a party and ended with a long and difficult road to recovery for Amy Skelton.

On October 23, 1999, Amy piled several friends into her car to head to a rave in Toronto. The car’s rear suspension gave way shortly after she drove onto the 401, forcing her to pull over and get out of her car. Tragically, the driver of a pick-up truck lost control of his vehicle and slammed into the back of Amy’s car – and into Amy – crushing both her thighs and spine, breaking her neck and leaving her with serious internal injuries.

These are the types of patients – those suffering the worst types of injuries and who cannot be treated anywhere else – that the Regional Trauma Unit at Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre has been taking care of for the past 25 years. It’s where Amy ended up and she subsequently spent just over a month at the hospital, recovering from her injuries and beginning the difficult task of rehabilitation.

Since it opened, the Regional Trauma Unit has admitted thousands of patients – to date over 12,400 – arriving by land and air ambulance from over 80 referring hospitals around the province. Today the unit provides the most comprehensive care for patients with a specialized team including a trauma team leader, emergency nurses and residents from orthopaedic surgery, neurosurgery, general surgery and anaesthesia.

One of the strengths of the Regional Trauma Unit comes from its partnerships. Inside the hospital, the trauma unit care team interacts with as many as 22 hospital departments. Outside the hospital, the trauma unit partners with the police, paramedic services, the fire department and various rehabilitation centres and a number of injury prevention groups.

In fact, injury prevention is a key component of the Trauma Program at Sunnybrook & Women’s. Through the Office for Injury Prevention, the Trauma Program develops and delivers programs for young and older adults aimed at educating them about how to reduce risky behaviour and, ultimately, prevent injury. This includes a web site developed for young people by young people found at www.partyprogram.com. The party in P.A.R.T.Y. Program stands for Prevent Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth.

The Trauma Program also incorporates the Ross Tilley Burn Centre, one of the largest in Canada. It is the province’s only referral centre for adult burn patients and treats 85 per cent of the major burn injuries in Ontario.

Also key to the program is ongoing research that studies the effects of traumatic injuries on the body and the best ways to enhance and improve treatments. The trauma team’s research projects include trauma surgery research, plastic surgery trauma research, neurosurgery research, orthopaedic surgery research, traumatic burn injuries as well as studies exploring central nervous system injuries, peripheral nerve injuries and venous thromboembolisms.