History of Trauma Research

Evidence of prosthetics being used date back to between 1000-800BC, and the fields of research surrounding trauma have continued to evolve for centuries since. Here we give some key milestones in the fields of research on which the SRMRC teams focus.

You can choose to click through a time range to view a timeline for that period, or use the dropdown menu to jump to a period of your choice. Hover over the coloured blocks within the timeline to view more information on that event, as well as links to further details on selected events.

Timeline of events

  • Double amputee wins athletics sprint medal

    Date: 2011

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    South African double amputee Oscar Pistorius wins a silver medal in the 4x400m relay at the 2011 World Championships using prosthetic legs, the first double amputee to win an able-bodied track medal.

  • Britain opens country’s first dedicated trauma research centre

    Date: 2011

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley opens the SRMRC in 2011

    The Secretary of State for Health opens Britain’s first trauma research centre, combining at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham the lessons learned from military and civilian trauma care.

  • Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham opens

    Date: 2010

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Royal Centre for Defence Medicine and Selly Oak Hospital’s civilian trauma team relocates to newly opened Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

  • Screening on BBC of “Wounded”

    Date: 2009

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Screening on BBC of “Wounded”, which provides public with first television documentary of treatment process for military trauma patients treated in joint civilian-military facilities in Britain.

  • Report on treatment of British military patients

    Date: 2008

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    House of Commons Defence Committee delivers glowing report of treatment of military patients at Selly Oak Hospital. New statistics show dramatic drop in number of deaths among seriously wounded British military patients.

  • i-LIMB goes on sale

    Date: 2007

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    The i-LIMB, made in Scotland, goes on sale for patients who have lost a hand. The device has a motor in each finger, and the thumb can rotate through 90 degrees.

  • Medical Emergency Response Teams

    Date: 2006

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Introduction of the consultant-led Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) system by British military coincides with the introduction of the HemCon dressing to British military medical kits. The dressings contain a shellfish-based substance which becomes sticky in contact with blood and reduces bleeding.

  • College of Emergency Medicine formed / Introduction of the Combat Application Tourniquet

    Date: 2005

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    • College of Emergency Medicine formed following mergers of earlier organisations.
    • Introduction of the Combat Application Tourniquet by British military forces.
  • Complete map of the human genome produced

    Date: 2003

    Research Area:Microbiology

    Complete map of the human genome produced independently by the Human Genome Project and Celera Corporation, founded by J. Craig Venter.

  • Human interaction with computer

    Date: 2002

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    Neural interface implanted into British scientist Dr Kevin Warwick, connected directly to his nervous system. The signal produced was detailed enough that a robot arm developed by Warwick’s colleague, Dr Peter Kyberd, was able to mimic the actions of Warwick’s own arm.

  • Centre for Defence Medicine opens

    Date: 2001

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Centre for Defence Medicine opens at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham, beginning historic civilian-military collaboration for treating military patients. CDM earns “Royal” approval the following year.

  • Civilian deaths from trauma are decreasing slowly

    Date: 2000

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Study by UK Trauma Audit and Research Network shows civilian deaths from trauma are decreasing slowly and recognises value of increased role of senior doctors in first assessment at hospital.

  • First complete genome sequence for an organism produced

    Date: 1995

    Research Area:Microbiology

    Team led by American J. Craig Venter produces the first complete genome sequence for an organism.

  • Microprocessor-controlled knee

    Date: 1993

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    The first commercially available microprocessor controlled prosthetic knee was released by British company Blatchford & Sons in 1993.

     

  • Microprocessors in prosthetics

    Date: 1990

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    First use of microprocessors in prosthetics

  • Royal College of Surgeons of England trauma report

    Date: 1988

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Royal College of Surgeons of England produces seminal report on the management of patients with major injuries.

  • Discoverey that HIV is probable cause of AIDS

    Date: 1983

    Research Area:Microbiology

    Frenchman Luc Montagnier’s team discovers HIV as probable cause of AIDS; American Robert Gallo’s team proves the link the following year.

  • Easier fitting of prosthetics

    Date: 1980

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    RGP and Sabolich Prosthetics develop the CATCAM socket, making fitting much easier for the patient

  • Eradication of naturally occuring smallpox

    Date: 1979

    Research Area:Microbiology

    WHO announces the eradication of naturally occuring smallpox, the only microbial disease to be deliberately eradicated, 183 years after Jenner first discovered a vaccine.

  • Last recorded smallpox death

    Date: 1978

    Research Area:Microbiology

    Clinical photographer Janet Parker becomes the last person known to have died of smallpox, after contracting the disease as a result of the accidental release of the pathogen in a laboratory at the University of Birmingham.

  • Development of ALTS

    Date: 1978

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    James K. Styner produces the Advanced Trauma Life Support training programme for trauma physicians. Now used in more than 40 countries, including the UK.

  • DNA sequencing method

    Date: 1977

    Research Area:Microbiology

    Walter Gilbert and Fred Sanger independently develop method of sequencing DNA.

  • German biologist Ferdinand Cohn identifies four types of bacteria

    Date: 1975

    Research Area:Microbiology

    German biologist Ferdinand Cohn identifies four types of bacteria, based on their shape.

  • Below-knee prosthetics improved

    Date: 1975

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    Ysidro Martinez makes major improvements on below-knee prosthetics

  • Vietnam War – drop in fatalities from wounding

    Date: 1972

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Number of American military personnel dying of their wounds during Vietnam War drops to just 3.6%, compared with 8% during World War I.

  • Casualty Surgeons Association founded

    Date: 1967

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Casualty Surgeons Association founded with Maurice Ellis as its first President.

  • Discovery of Cryoprecipitate

    Date: 1964

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Judith Graham Pool discovers clotting properties of substance, now known as Cryoprecipitate, created after defrosting frozen plasma. The drug which was developed from this discovery is used to treat haemophiliacs and patients who are bleeding heavily as the result of a major injury. Click here to read about current research with Cryoprecipitate

  • Work conducted on phenylalanine

    Date: 1961

    Research Area:Microbiology

    American Marshall Nirenberg and German J. Heinrich Matthaei conduct work on on phenylalanine, which begins the process of decoding the genetic code.

  • Structure of DNA described

    Date: 1953

    Research Area:Microbiology

    American James Watson and Englishman Francis Crick describe the structure of DNA, based on X-ray diffraction images tacken by Englishwoman Rosalind Franklin.

  • Key research – DNA carries genetic material

    Date: 1952

    Research Area:Microbiology

    Americans Martha Chase and Albert Hershey carry out experiment which proves DNA carries the genetic material for life

  • First consultant in Emergency Medicine

    Date: 1952

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Mr Maurice Ellis appointed first consultant in Emergency Medicine in the UK at Leeds General Hospital.

  • Key research – blood loss and shock

    Date: 1951

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Research by Alan Ruscoe Clark at Birmingham Accident Hospital makes major advances in the treatment of blood loss and shock in trauma patients.

  • World’s first dedicated hand surgery unit

    Date: 1950

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    American army surgeon J. William Littler founds world’s first dedicated hand surgery unit.

  • Helicopter evacuation in Korean War

    Date: 1950

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Korean War sees first use of helicopters to evacuate wounded military personnel and mobile army surgical hospital (MASH) units to provide care even closer to front line.

  • Myoelectricity Can Control Prosthetic Limbs

    Date: 1949

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    West German Reinhold Reiter develops techniques for using myoelectricity (generated by the body) to control prosthetic limbs.

  • Suction socket invented

    Date: 1946

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    Researchers at University of California at Berkeley invents the suction socket for above-knee prosthetics.

  • British Association of Hand Surgeons

    Date: 1946

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    First meeting of the British Association of Hand Surgeons.

  • British Association of Plastic Surgeons

    Date: 1945

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    First meeting of the British Association of Plastic Surgeons (now BAPRAAS).

  • Streptomycin discovered

    Date: 1944

    Research Area:Microbiology

    Americans Albert Schatz and Selman Waksman discover streptomycin, one of the first antibiotics.

  • Birmingham Accident Hospital

    Date: 1941

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Birmingham Accident HospitalOpening of Birmingham Accident Hospital, the world’s first dedicated trauma centre, led by clinical director Professor William Gissane.

  • Guinea Pig Club

    Date: 1941

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    Foundation of The Guinea Pig Club, prototype for future support groups for patients suffering severe physical disabilities including facial burns.

  • McIndoe’s eyelid replacement graft surgery

    Date: 1940

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Archibald McIndoe performs his first eyelid replacement graft surgery at the QVH on a pilot with a total facial loss.

  • Head injuries hospital in Oxford

    Date: 1940

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    Combined Services Hospital for Head Injuries at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford opens. It became the training school for a generation of neurologists and neurosurgeons, treating around 13,000 servicemen and women in the subsequent five years.

  • Dedicated hand wards

    Date: 1939

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    Increased number of survivors with hand injuries during World War II prompts setting up of dedicated hand wards by the military.

  • Stoke Mandeville Hospital

    Date: 1938

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Stoke Mandeville Hospital, in Buckinghamshire, was used extensively during WWII for patients suffering from spinal cord injuries. Sir Ludwig Guttman was requested by the British government to found the National Spinal Injuries Centre at the hospital.

  • Plastic surgeon McIndoe begins RAF role

    Date: 1938

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    Archibald McIndoe, a New Zealander, was appointed as Consultant Platstic Surgeon to the Royal Air Force in 1938. Working at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead he went on to revolutionise the concept of the repair, care and rehabilitation of burned patients during the war.

  • Canadian Norman Bethune develops the first mobile medical unit

    Date: 1936

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Canadian Norman Bethune develops the first mobile medical unit to transport blood supplies to Spanish loyalist forces.

  • Sulfanilamide discovery

    Date: 1935

    Research Area:Microbiology

    French researcher Ernest Fourneau discovered that sulfanilamide was the active antibiotic agent in a German-made drug called Prontisil, which inhibited bacterial growth in mice. Sulfanilamide went on to become the basis for antibiotics which thus saved the lives of thousands of wounded personnel during World War II by preventing or fighting infection.

  • First electron microscope

    Date: 1933

    Research Area:Microbiology

    German Ernst Ruska builds the first electron microscope.

  • Cornea transplant

    Date: 1931

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    Russian surgeon Vladimir Filatov carries out first successful transplant of a cornea from a deceased patient.

  • Alexander Fleming publishes paper describing pencillin

    Date: 1929

    Research Area:Microbiology

    Scotsman Alexander Fleming publishes paper describing pencillin, providing the foundation for the development of antibiotics in the 1940s.

  • Griffith and molecular genetics

    Date: 1928

    Research Area:Microbiology

    Englishman Frederick Griffith makes early discoveries in molecular genetics.

  • Muller and Altenburg and genetics

    Date: 1920

    Research Area:Microbiology

    Hermann Muller and Edgar Altenburg publish seminal work in Genetics, explaining key elements of genetic mutation.

  • French research on trauma patients WWI

    Date: 1918

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    French research on trauma patients in World War I shows importance of rapid treatment of wounds, with mortality rising from 10% when treated within one hour to 75% when treated after 10 hours. The data is later used by R Adams Cowley in his description of the “Golden Hour”.

  • First modern plastic surgery

    Date: 1917

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    New Zealand surgeon Harold Gillies carries out what is believed to be the first ever modern plastic surgery, operating on Battle of Jutland survivor William Yeo.

  • Opening of Queen Mary’s hospital at Sidcup

    Date: 1917

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Opening of Queen Mary’s hospital at Sidcup, Britain’s first specialist unit dedicated to the facial repair of soldier casualties.  Under Harold Gillies, a generation of plastic and facial surgeons will define the discipline.

  • Battle of the Somme

    Date: 1916

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Battle of the Somme:  During July 100,000 casualties are received and treated.  By the battle’s end, casualties including killed, wounded, missing and PoWs would total 420,000.

  • Bacteriophages discovered

    Date: 1915

    Research Area:Microbiology

    Englishman Frederick Twort and Canadian Felix d’Herelle independently discover bacteriophages, viruses which kill bacteria.

  • Externally-powered prosthisis

    Date: 1915

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    German engineers build first externally-powered prosthetic limb

  • Surgeons on the front line

    Date: 1915

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    In a letter to the BMJ (January 9th, p.66) surgeons Henry Souttar and Hartnell Beavis first formally recognise the ability of surgeons to operate in an equivalent manner to a general hospital close to the front line.

  • World’s first specialist facial reconstruction unit

    Date: 1914

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    World’s first specialist facial reconstruction unit opened at Dusseldorf Hospital, Germany, under Christian Bruhn and August Lindemann. The hospital is conceived and operated primarily for specialist wound provision for soldiers from the German Army.

  • First drug cure for a bacterial disease discovered

    Date: 1912

    Research Area:Microbiology

    Paul Ehrlich discovers the first drug cure for a bacterial disease, developing Salvarsan to cure syphilis.

  • First aluminium prosthesis

    Date: 1912

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    Gustav Hermann makes the first aluminium leg prosthesis

  • Proof of an infectious agent for cancer

    Date: 1911

    Research Area:Microbiology

    American Francis Peyton Rous provides an experimental proof of an infectious agent for cancer.

  • Split hook prosthesis

    Date: 1909

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    DW Dorrance invents “split hook” prosthetic, a major development for amputees.

  • Royal Army Medical College on Millbank

    Date: 1907

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Creation of the Royal Army Medical College on Millbank in London.

  • Discovery of kala azar parasite

    Date: 1903

    Research Area:Microbiology

    British military physician William Leishman and a fellow military doctor, Irishman Charles Donovan, independently discover that a disease called kala azar is caused by a parasite.

  • Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps

    Date: 1903

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Creation of The Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps.

  • Blood staining process discovered

    Date: 1900

    Research Area:Microbiology

    Britsh military physician William Leishman a method for staining blood for malaria and other parasites, a process which became known as Leishman’s stain.

  • Remaining muscles help move a prosthetic limb

    Date: 1898

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    Giuliano Vanghetti develops way of using patient’s remaining muscles to move a prosthetic limb.

  • Royal Army Medical Corps

    Date: 1898

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Creation of the Royal Army Medical Corps.

  • First successful cardiac repair

    Date: 1895

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    German surgeon Ludwig Rehn carries out first successful human cardiac repair.

  • Russian launches field of virology

    Date: 1892

    Research Area:Microbiology

    Russian Dimitri Ivanovski launches the field of virology by filtering tobacco mosaic virus.

  • Antobidy theory proposed

    Date: 1891

    Research Area:Microbiology

    German Paul Ehrlich proposes that antibodies are responsible for immunity.

  • Diphtheria antitoxin serum discovered

    Date: 1890

    Research Area:Microbiology

    German Emil von Behring and Japanese Kitasato Shibasaburo discover diphtheria antitoxin serum, the first rational approach to therapy of infectious diseases.

  • Koch revolutionises microbiology

    Date: 1877

    Research Area:Microbiology

    German physician Robert Koch revolutionises microbiology, isolating anthrax, tuberculosis and cholera. Also writes Koch’s Postulates for establishing causal relationship between a microbe and a disease.

  • Isolation of DNA

    Date: 1869

    Research Area:Microbiology

    Friedrich Miescher isolates DNA in surgical pus.

  • Mendel publishes key genetics theory

    Date: 1865

    Research Area:Microbiology

    Gregor Mendel publishes Experiments on Plant Hybridization, laying the basis for fututre developments in inheritance and genetics.

  • Effective prosthetic limbs attachment

    Date: 1863

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    American Dubois L Parmelee patents an effective way of attaching prosthetic limbs, modelling the stump and using suction.

  • Royal Military Hospital’s first patient

    Date: 1863

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    First patient admitted to the Royal Military Hospital at Netley.  The hospital has been built in line with the recommendations of Florence Nightingale’s committee.

  • Organisation of Medical Service

    Date: 1862

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Jonathan Letterman appointed medical director of the Army of the Potomac during US Civil War and pioneers organisation of Medical Service.

  • Pasteur bacterial growth discovery

    Date: 1860

    Research Area:Microbiology

    French microbiologist Louis Pasteur demonstrates that the growth of bacteria is not spontaneous, providing key evidence in scientific acceptance of germ theory.

  • All cells are created from other cells

    Date: 1858

    Research Area:Microbiology

    German Rudolph Virchow’s work popularises existing theory by Prussian Robert Remak that all cells are created from other cells.

  • New resuscitation technique

    Date: 1856

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    English physiologist Marshall Hall develops new technique for resuscitation, including clearing airway.

  • Ether as an anaesthetic

    Date: 1854

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Russian Nikolay Pirogov becomes the first surgeon to use ether as an anaesthetic in a field operation, during the Crimean War

  • Plaster of Paris cast invented

    Date: 1851

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Antonius Mathysen, a Dutch military surgeon, invents the plaster of Paris cast.

  • Structure and Growth of Animals and Plants that cells are also the basis of life in animals

    Date: 1839

    Research Area:Microbiology

    Theodor Swann, a contemporary and colleague of Schlieden, proposes in Microscopical Researches into the Accordance in the Structure and Growth of Animals and Plants that cells are also the basis of life in animals.

  • Matthias Jakob Schleiden publishes Contributions to Phytogenesis

    Date: 1838

    Research Area:Microbiology

    Matthias Jakob Schleiden publishes Contributions to Phytogenesis, the first formulation of an existing belief that plants were constructed entirely of cells.

  • First cleft palate operation

    Date: 1827

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    American surgeon John Peter Mettauer performs the first ever cleft palate operation.

  • Western world’s first plastic surgery

    Date: 1815

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    Joseph Carpue performs first ever plastic surgery in the western world.

  • Smallpox vaccine developed

    Date: 1796

    Research Area:Microbiology

    English scientist Edward Jenner develops smallpox vaccine using pus from the sores of patients with cow pox.

  • Nose reconstruction from forehead flap

    Date: 1794

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    Gentleman’s Magazine reports on Indian rhinoplasty (nose reconstruction) techniques, brining nose reconstruction using forehead flap to western world.

  • Flying ambulances

    Date: 1790

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    Image of pioneering French surgeon Dominque LarreyFrench military surgeon Dominique Larrey creates concept of “flying ambulances” for Napoleonic armies to bring wounded from battlefield to hospital faster; he also brings hospitals closer to the front line.

  • First recorded successful trauma resuscitation

    Date: 1774

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    First recorded successful trauma resuscitation. Thomas Squires, of the Humane Society, uses electrical stimulation to restore the pulse and breathing of a girl who had fallen from a window and been pronounced dead. She eventually recovers.

  • Development of open wound innoculation

    Date: 1700

    Research Area:Microbiology

    Development of open wound innoculation in Turkey and parts of Europe.

  • Van Leeuwenhoek describes micro-organisms

    Date: 1676

    Research Area:Microbiology

    Antoni van Leeuwenhoek becomes the first person to describe micro-organisms, including bacteria and spermatoza, using new techniques for creating microscope lenses.

  • Tourniquet to control bleeding

    Date: 1674

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    First recorded use of a tourniquet to control bleeding by French Army surgeon Etienne Morel during the Siege of Besancon.

  • Publication of Micrographia

    Date: 1665

    Research Area:Microbiology

    Publication of Micrographia by Robert Hooke popularises the use of the compound microscope to study living organisms, and coins the use of the word “cell”.

  • Treatment for gunshot wounds

    Date: 1551

    Research Area:Acute Response To Injury

    French surgeon Ambrose Paré develops treatment of gunshot wounds, the use of ligatures and post-injury nutrition.

  • Paré’s prosthetic limbs

    Date: 1529

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    Ambroise Pare introduces amputation as a life-saving technique; goes on to design and make prosthetic limbs

  • Taglicozzi publishes surgical reconstruction book

    Date: 1501

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    Italian Gasparo Taglicozzi’s book,“On the surgery of defects by implantation”, spreads the technique around Europe

  • First recorded use of a skin graft

    Date: 1460

    Research Area:Reconstructive & Regenerative Medicine

    Heinrich von Pfolspeundt writes Buch der Bündth-Ertznei, describing the reconstruction of a man’s nose using a flap of skin from his arm.