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Science Education: Physical Trauma and Sepsis

Heart rate irregularitiesStudies on physical trauma and sepsis, the body's overwhelming immune response to severe injury or infection, focus on questions like:

  • What changes occur immediately and over time when a person is critically ill or injured?
  • Why does the immune system go into overdrive?
  • How can we improve diagnosis and treatment strategies?

Follow the links below to learn more about physical trauma and sepsis,including recent developments, and read profiles of researchers working in these areas.

Fact Sheets

Heat, chemicals, electricity, sunlight or nuclear radiation can cause tissue-damaging burns. Get answers to questions about burns and related treatments and research.

Scanning electron micrograph of bacteriaSepsis | En español
An overwhelming immune response to infection can cause sepsis. Get more information about sepsis and what we're learning about it.

Car accidentTrauma
Trauma is the leading cause of death for people 1 to 44 years old. Learn more about trauma.

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Science Highlights

Cells from the outer surface of the scale. Credit: Chen-Hui Chen, Duke University.Visualizing Skin Regeneration in Real Time on Biomedical Beat
Because zebrafish can regrow injured or lost fins, scientists study them to learn more about tissue regeneration. A new imaging technique shows how the fish’s skin cells respond during tissue repair and replacement.

Human digestive systemPreventing Sepsis in Half the Time
An antibiotic regimen half as long as the standard course could be just as effective in treating intra-abdominal infections and preventing sepsis.

Free radicals in an ying-yang symbol. Credit: Stock image Molecules Known to Damage Cells May Also Have Healing Power
Molecules called free radicals have a reputation for being dangerous. Now, they've revealed healing powers. In worms, at least.

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Profiles: Meet a Scientist

Alfred Atanda Jr.Game Changer
Pediatric orthopedic surgeon examines the causes of elbow injuries in young baseball pitchers.

Kevin TraceyFor Janice: Legacy of a Short Life
Neurosurgeon and immunologist Kevin Tracey studies why our immune systems cause illness.

Cynthia OttoDogging Sepsis
Veterinarian Cynthia Otto studies sepsis, a dramatic, full-body reaction to an injury or illness.

More profiles

Audio and Video

Scott SomersDr. Scott Somers on Trauma
NIGMS' Scott Somers talks about what happens to the body after a serious physical injury.

Kevin TraceyDr. Kevin Tracey on Sepsis
Kevin Tracey describes how he became interested in studying sepsis and what scientists have learned about the condition.

More audio and video


Virtual snow world A World Without Pain
Interactive virtual reality environment called “Snow World” reduces the pain experienced by burn patients.

Cross-section of skin anatomy shows layers and different tissue types.Skin Cross-Section
Cross-section of skin anatomy shows layers and different tissue types.

Heart rates time seriesHeart Rates Time Series
These time series show the heart rates of four different individuals.

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This page last reviewed on July 26, 2016.