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Risk of Reinjury After Trauma

Violent injury is a leading cause of medical complications and death in the US, particularly among young people.

  • Non-fatal assault-related injuries are responsible for over 1.4 million emergency department (ED) visits each year, including over 700,000 admissions for youth alone (age 10-24 years).
  • Nearly 1 in 2 admitted trauma patients have had previous injuries.

Up to 45% of people with assault-related injuries will experience a second or third violent injury within 5 years.

Risk factors for violent reinjury include things that may be difficult to change depending on circumstances.

Some examples include the following:

  • Poverty
  • Not having a job
  • Living in an unsafe neighborhood
  • Owning weapons
  • Gang involvement
  • Alcohol and substance use
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Depression and anxiety

In order to prevent violent reinjury, addressing things which can be changed is important.

For example:

  • Employment — studies show that having a job makes people less likely to experience future violent injury.
  • Substance use — over half of youth with assault injuries in the ED have a history of recent substance use.

This means that looking for work, seeking counseling for alcohol and drug use if necessary and taking care of mental health and emotional well-being are all ways to prevent future injury.

There are many things beyond our control, but others we may be able to change. We hope that this will help empower patients and families to take steps to decrease the risk of future injury as a part of their healing journey.

Finding support, resources and help when needed can make a big difference. If you want to learn more about other resources or ones more specific to your needs, Trauma Survivors Network coordinators, social work and case management are here to help.

Some resources for you to explore:

  • Second Round Boxing: Offers an exercise program that uses boxing, weight training and other exercise to teach youth self-discipline, teamwork, leadership and positive social behaviors. 919-833-3312
  • Community Engagement and Advocacy Program: Offers programs teaching leadership development, community development and community advocacy. 919-687-4635
  • NCWORKS: Helps people find work, gain job skills and prepare for interviews. 919-250-3770
  • Career Connections Centers: Helps people find work, gain job skills and prepare for interviews. Offers career guidance, job placement and help with job searches and resumes. 
  • New Start Family Resource Center: Offers support to people who have recently been incarcerated. Services include help with finding a job, continuing education, peer support and case management. 919-834-9300
  • National Center for PTSD: Offers resources for trauma survivors and families, including information about PTSD, the PTSD Coach Online and videos from other survivors and professionals. 800-273-8255
  • Alliance Health: Coordinates prevention, treatment and support services for people with mental health issues, substance needs or intellectual disabilities. 919-651-8500
  • The S.A.L.T. Project: Offers counseling for mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety and PTSD, as well as marriage, family, grief counseling and substance abuse counseling. 336-890-8889

Information adapted from the Journal of Surgical Research, Journal of the National Medical Association and Annals of Emergency Medicine