Trauma / Resuscitation

Trauma is the leading cause of death among persons one to 44 years old. Despite ongoing advances in our care for patients with severe trauma, the burden of trauma-related morbidity and mortality continues to increase. In fact, deaths related to severe trauma are expected to reach more than 8.4 million globally by the year 2020.

Ambulance in Emergency bay at St. Michael's Hospital

Approximately 30 to 40 per cent of fatalities in trauma are caused by severe bleeding. Car accidents remain the most common cause of severe multi-trauma, especially when they occur at high velocity. Other causes include falls and assaults with a deadly weapon. Major trauma may cause injuries to the head, spine, thorax, abdomen, pelvis and limbs – and there are often multiple injuries present.

Trauma centers came into existence out of the realization that traumatic injury is a disease process unto itself requiring specialized and experienced multidisciplinary treatment and specialized resources. As a Level 1 trauma centre, St Michael’s Hospital provides care for these patients from across Ontario, whether from downtown Toronto or whether transferred by ambulance or helicopter to our helipad on the roof of the hospital. We are equipped and staffed to provide comprehensive care to these patients. Our multi-disciplinary trauma team routinely treats patients with life-threatening injuries following major trauma. Although bleeding is essentially the major acute problem for trauma victims, late complications can emerge as the victim progresses through the different phases of resuscitation and definitive treatment. One of those complications is the systemic inflammatory response syndrome, which can ultimately lead to multiple organ failure.

The central aim of this pillar is to improve all aspects of care of people who have sustained a multiple trauma, with the aim of improving outcome and quality of life for these people. Our scientists are investigating ways to decrease the occurrence of systemic inflammatory response syndrome by introducing novel strategies during the resuscitation phase. That research is performed in preclinical models that simulate hemorrhage of an injured patient. The need to shorten the time delay between the discovery of important experimental findings and their application in the patient setting is also a major goal in trauma resuscitation research at St. Michael´s.

Explore our Research

Our group of trauma/resuscitation investigators has multiple active research programs that are taking novel approaches to the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of trauma, and to the utilization and optimization of resuscitation strategies.


  • Resuscitation fluids enriched with hydrogen to modulate inflammatory response to bleeding
  • Clinical research on the causes of abnormal blood coagulation in trauma patients
  • Clinical studies on the management of complicated abdominal surgery in trauma patients
  • Development of novel surgical equipment to improve outcome in trauma and acute care surgery
  • Modulation of the inflammatory response to ischemia and reperfusion