What is Facial Trauma?
Facial trauma, also called maxillofacial trauma, is any physical trauma to the face. Facial trauma can involve soft tissue injuries such as burns, lacerations and bruises, or fractures of the facial bones such as nasal fractures and fractures of the jaw, as well as trauma such as eye injuries. Symptoms are specific to the type of injury; for example, fractures may involve pain, swelling, loss of function, or changes in the shape of facial structures.
Facial injuries have the potential to cause disfigurement and loss of function; for example, blindness or difficulty moving the jaw can result. Although it is seldom life-threatening, facial trauma can also be deadly, because it can cause severe bleeding or interference with the airway; thus a primary concern in treatment is ensuring that the airway is open and not threatened so that the patient can breathe. Depending on the type of facial injury, treatment may include bandaging and suturing of open wounds, administration of ice, antibiotics and pain killers, moving bones back into place, and surgery. When fractures are suspected, radiography is used for diagnosis. Treatment may also be necessary for other injuries such as traumatic brain injury, which commonly accompany severe facial trauma.
In developed countries, the leading cause of facial trauma used to be motor vehicle accidents, but this mechanism has been replaced by interpersonal violence; however auto accidents still predominate as the cause in developing countries and are still a major cause elsewhere. Thus prevention efforts include awareness campaigns to educate the public about safety measures such as seat belts and motorcycle helmets, and laws to prevent drunk and unsafe driving. Other causes of facial trauma include falls, industrial accidents, and sports injuries.
How it is Prevented
Measures to reduce facial trauma include laws enforcing seat belt use and public education to increase awareness about the importance of seat belts and motorcycle helmets. Efforts to reduce drunk driving are other preventative measures; changes to laws and their enforcement have been proposed, as well as changes to societal attitudes toward the activity. Information obtained from biomechanics studies can be used to design automobiles with a view toward preventing facial injuries. While seat belts reduce the number and severity of facial injuries that occur in crashes, airbags alone are not very effective at preventing the injuries. In sports, safety devices including helmets have been found to reduce the risk of severe facial injury. Additional attachments such as face guards may be added to sports helmets to prevent orofacial injury (injury to the mouth or face); mouth guards also used.