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Offbeat

There’s strength in numbers when it comes to injury prevention

11 May, 17 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

This week marks the Fourth UN Global Road Safety Week. As noted on the website, the focus is

on speed and what can be done to address this key risk factor for road traffic deaths and injuries.

Speed contributes to around one-third of all fatal road traffic crashes in high-income countries, and up to half in low- and middle-income countries.

Countries successfully reducing road traffic deaths have done so by prioritizing safety when managing speed. Among the proven strategies to address speed include:

  • Building or modifying roads to include features that calm traffic
  • Establishing speed limits to the function of each road
  • Enforcing speed limits
  • Installing in-vehicle technologies
  • Raising awareness about the dangers of speeding.

The Fourth UN Global Road Safety Week seeks to increase understanding of the dangers of speed and generate action on measures to address speed, thereby saving lives on the roads.

One of the ways that injury prevention researchers – such as myself – can increase their capacity for influence is working with others who also have the capacity for influence. Regular readers of the blog will recognise my repeated recommendation to connect, collaborate, and achieve; indeed I’ve often featured my perspectives regarding the many and varied benefits that arise from such actions.

Today, for something a little different, I am delighted to feature a blog written by my colleague, Ms Julia Carter, the Writer and Content Marketing Specialist at Youi Insurance, as she shares some thoughts regarding working with an injury prevention researcher:

 

At Youi, we know there’s a huge gap in the car insurance market. Insurers are providing cover for when things go wrong on the road, but what are we actually doing to prevent those things from happening?

Knowledge is Power

We believe we have a responsibility as insurers to help protect our customers the best we can, and not just by offering them cover for a range of insured events, but by equipping them with tools and resources that help avoid those events in the first place.

Engage an Expert

In addition to regularly writing articles about road safety and publishing them on our “On The Road” blog, we have partnered with Dr. Bridie Scott-Parker to focus on injury prevention. Dr. Bridie’s expertise perfectly complements our content mission to raise awareness for road safety. We are currently finalizing production for a new VLOG featuring Dr Bridie’s research, which we hope will engage and inspire various road users to commit to road safety.

Be Seen to be Heard

Of course sometimes the easiest way to get people to listen is to speak directly to them. That’s why we recently hosted a #SlowDownDay as part of the 4th annual United Nations Global Road Safety Week. The event encouraged our staff to take a few minutes out of their busy day to slow down, grab a snack and learn about road safety from experts in the field, including Dr. Bridie and the Queensland Fire & Emergency Services. We also invited our partners from the Sunshine Coast Animal Refuge to share some tips on preventing animal collisions, and Automotive Service Centres (ABS) discussed the importance of regular car servicing and brake check-ups to ensure safe driving.

Strength in Skills & Numbers

One thing we’ve learned since taking this more robust approach to road safety awareness is that people want to stay safe on the roads. Everyone’s been touched by a road collision in some way or another, and we all agree that we need to do our part in making the roads a safer place for everyone. That said, we have found that getting people to take the time to read or watch content about road safety requires a variety of skills. In this day and age of social media and information overload, there is so much content online that most of it just gets lost. Having someone as enthusiastic and passionate as Dr. Bridie deliver road safety education is instrumental, but we also need to host that content in the right place, boost it through the right channels, and throw all of our resources behind it to ensure the message gets across.

 

We are extremely excited about what the future of this partnership holds and its potential to bring Dr. Bridie’s research to a wider audience through a strategic content marketing approach. We encourage all businesses and individuals to seek out local road safety authorities and create similar partnerships, because when it comes to injury prevention, there is strength in numbers.

 

 

Happy International Women’s Day 2017!

8 Mar, 17 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

Today is International Women’s Day 2017, and while each and every one of us has our own experiences relating to this year’s theme, I thought I would share with you my own recent reflections on how I have been Bold for Change. I was honoured to share my experiences at the Graduate Women Queensland Sunshine Coast Branch International Women’s Day Breakfast last Saturday, and in preparing for this event – as any good researcher would proceed – I leapt into my homework activity and asked Google for definitions of “bold”. While some were rather risqué, I found some definitions with which I sensed a strong affiliation, and I shared some of my good, and less-good, life experiences around these definitions.

  1. Confident and courageous, daring and brave. Regular readers of the blog, and anyone who knows me beyond my peer-reviewed publications, will know that I have had more than my share of physical challenges. It never ceases to surprise me that, on a weekly basis at a minimum, I encounter someone who is surprised to see me working, mothering, contributing to my local community or the global community more generally. Yes, staying at home and resting all day would definitely be the easy thing to do, but I do not seem have the gene that allows me to do this! I was also brought up by a confident and courageous, daring and brave mum (and dad) who encouraged me from the cradle to leave my small farming community and move to the capital city and gain a degree, something girls are NOT supposed to do. I see my own daughter being confident and courageous, daring and brave, doing the same, and it reinforces that I (and my mum) have done the right thing, and I couldn’t be more proud of both of them.
  2. Not hesitating in the face of rebuff, or to break rules of propriety. Kudos again is needed for my mum (and dad) for raising a strong-willed (I prefer ‘tenacious and resilient’, while my husband is more likely to use ‘stubborn and pig-headed’) daughter, who is living the family motto of leave-the-world-better. Sometimes this means that there will be rebuff, and sometimes this means breaking rules of propriety. So be it. I am confident and courageous, daring and brave, and I WILL leave the world better.
  3. Not afraid to speak up for what she believes, even to people with more power.  Change will not happen unless people – women! – who are confident and courageous, daring and brave, and who do not hesitate in the face of rebuff and do not hesitate to break the rules of propriety are not afraid to speak up for what they believe. Others may have more power, but to me that means that others can join me in tireless quest to prevent injury among our most precious, our children. I have worked very hard through my studies, and my life post-PhD, and through these efforts (and experimentation with my own children!) have developed, implemented, and evaluated some highly innovative projects. Change not only requires bold thinking, but bold actions, so I walk-the-walk, not just talk-the-talk.
  4. Not afraid of difficult situations. Every day is an opportunity to learn: you might learn something about yourself, about another, or about something as lovely as a pet cat or dog. I am a big fan of reframing and looking at the positive of any situation, no matter how dire. A difficult situation is a fantastic opportunity to learn, and not only can you learn to manage difficult situations, you will also learn from these difficult situations, by being confident and courageous, daring and brave, and speaking up. It’s important however to remember to listen, and to talk with, not just talk at or be talked at. Everyone likes to be talked with 🙂
  5. Willingness to take risks. I am willing to take risks. I have been in a medication trial, and being number 23 in a world’s first double-blind study was scary, particularly when there was a massive list of potential side-effects, including death, and I had two small children, a husband and a mortgage. I have also taken many risks during my studies and in my post-doctoral life by treading a less-conventional path, and indeed I prefer to live life generally as an open book. Life is much simpler that way. Doing this has required me to be confident and courageous, daring and brave; to speak up; to not be afraid of difficult situations; and to be willing to take risks. I take educated risks, however, and use all my nous, research skills, and social supports to take every step to help these risks translate into injury prevention, whatever my endeavour.
  6. A final message?  Whether you are a woman on International Women’s Day, or someone who shares the planet with a woman on International Women’s Day (or indeed any other day), you can make a difference and you can prevent injury, by being bold for change 🙂

Life post-injury, aka preventing further injury

20 Sep, 16 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

While we as injury-prevention professionals, practitioners and policy-makers work tirelessly to prevent injury, the reality is – never more evident than at the Safety 2016 conference underway as I type in Tampere, Finland – that

“Beyond deaths tens of millions of people suffer injuries that lead to hospitalization, emergency department visits, and treatment by general practitioners. Many are left with temporary or permanent disabilities….”  Etienne Krug, MD, MPH, Director, Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention, World Health Organization.

Moreover, diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, and respiratory conditions to name a few, arguably lead to injury and disability, therefore we must continue in our efforts to reduce the incidence of disease wherever possible.

Now, to the other side of the coin…..

If you are one of the many lucky people out there who has never had to live with an injury (whether it was temporary or permanent) or a disease (particularly one that you have incurred through no fault of your own), try being the one living with that injury or that disease. Try then to prevent incurring further injury. As a person who has tango-ed for many years with the she-beast Multiple Sclerosis (MS), I can tell you it is pretty darn hard. Having recently visited our developed-nation’s capital, Canberra, for a conference, I was dismayed to encounter  injury-prevention issues every day. Two examples:

Example 1. I can no longer traverse stairs without a great deal of difficulty (and hilarity as my Students and/or Research Assistants are required to act as my ‘squishies’ by forming a human beanbag around me in case I fall during the journey up or down), and while there was an elevator that was available to use in an adjoining building (a casino), despite being advised by building b (my hotel) that I could use this elevator during casino hours, casino security advised me I was unable to use it as I was not a casino-patron. Despite all of my conference colleagues traversing the steps within 30 feet of the elevator, I had to leave the building to repeat my early morning trek of a (now uphill) ramp, road, broken paving (again uphill), footpath, and construction zone, using my walking stick and my wheelie bag to keep me upright, with an overall distance that was at least 3 times that of my able-bodied colleagues. I fall quite regularly and I am always very careful in how I land as if I lose the use of one or more arms through an injury my capacity to care for myself, let alone work, be a mother etc, will be greatly impacted upon. Managing fatigue is very important for staying upright, and having a finite pool of energy which is impacted upon by MS, this is not the way to prevent further physical injury. How about offering assistance or solutions that are not only realistic but also allow me some independence? I am not my disease or my disability.

 

Broken paving which strikes fear in the heart of anyone who is a falls' risk

Broken paving which strikes fear in the heart of anyone who is a falls’ risk

 

Example 2. There was a delay with our return flight home, as there often is as we leave our nation’s capital, and as I have mobility issues I need assistance to board the plane. My friend and colleague was kind enough to assist me through this process, and we were ‘bumped’ to the head of the queue so that we could get seated with as little difficulty as possible. Unfortunately as we traveled down the ramp to the plane a fellow traveler yelled out ‘So what did you do to yourself?’, to which I stopped, steadied myself with the handrail and turned around before replying ‘I didn’t do anything to myself, I have multiple sclerosis’. Understandably the gentleman was very apologetic, however it can be very confronting to have complete strangers ask you why you walk the way you do, or you use a stick, or you are in a wheelchair. Some days it just rolls right off me, but other days when your reserves might be low, you might already have had a dozen people ask you, and you have managed to get through airport security with a walking stick (no easy feat itself!), you just feel like saying ‘Give me a break, did I ask if you have hemorrhoids?’ I am pretty resilient – indeed I could be the poster child for resilience and tenacity, despite my husband saying it is just plain pigheadedness and stubbornness – but even I reach my limits. We are already coping with a pretty full load, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no break EVER. Someone stronger may not be able to cope with the constant questioning. This is not the way to prevent further mental injury. Again, how about offering assistance or solutions that are not only realistic but also allow me some independence? I am not my disease or my disability.

Here in Queensland last week was Disability Action Week, with the aim of empowering people with disability, raising awareness of disability issues, and improving access and inclusion throughout the wider community. This year has been pretty tricky. Unfortunately I had a pretty horrid weekend before the DAW, and the doctors at our local hospital were just wonderful despite struggling with my collapsing veins.

You can see the result of two collapsed veins during failed IV insertion, 10 days later (you can’t see the bruise from the one that succeeded, on the back of my hand)

The result of two collapsed veins during IV insertion, 10 days later

 

I had intended to blog last week about the exciting Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and what a great chance for people to see disability and disease through a different lens. Instead I spent much of last week struggling to manage new medication, work, being a mum/wife/daughter/friend, and independence as friends and family acted as chauffeurs and gophers, nurses and hug-machines.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a do-er. Get in there and get it done! As the saying goes, if you want something done, ask a busy person 🙂 I don’t usually share about how tricky it can be living with MS ALL DAY EVERY DAY, but this seemed the ideal time to give some tiny insight into what it is like to further prevent injury when you already have an injury, which is what we also need to be about if we are to make injury prevention progress.

Celebrating science and inspiring the next generation of scientists

22 Aug, 16 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

Last week in Australia was National Science Week, a nation-wide celebration of science and technology via three key pathways.

Pathway one is to inspire the general public to be involved in science – creating new knowledge – through engaging activities such as Citizen Science. This year’s Citizen Scientists are identifying Australian wildlife that are featured in photos captured via automatic cameras, and anyone with internet access can participate whether they have a university qualification or not. This fantastic activity means that science is indeed inclusive, when many times it can feel like science is a members-only club.

The second pathway is through showcasing the contributions of scientists to the world of knowledge through the Australian Institute of Policy and Science Tall Poppy Awards. As the joint-Queensland 2015 winner of this award, I was delighted to attend the 2016 award evening on Wednesday and was pleased to learn about innovative projects across a breadth of disciplines, such as infecting coeliacs with hookworms, the sexual attractiveness of facial hair, and optimising agricultural irrigation to name a few. Next month I will be one of the inaugural Flying Scientists, bringing science to rural regions in which exposure to science can be limited.

The third pathway relates to a flurry of activities to inspire the next generation to be scientists – both today and in their future education and career paths. Recognising the importance of encouraging girls in particular to become – and stay – engaged in scientific pursuits, I was delighted to host the first University of the Sunshine Coast Growing Tall Poppies program in my research unit here at the University of the Sunshine Coast earlier this year.

Adolescent Risk Research Unit team members Jeanne, Jamie, and Natalie, mentoring Sasha, Isabella, Mikayala, and Sian.

The four Grade 10 students learnt about career paths through and in science, and conducted their own research project under the guidance of members of my team, before making a presentation of their research activities and the key findings before the senior school assembly on Wednesday morning. This presentation was very well-received by the students and teachers in attendance, further breaking silos such as ‘academics’, ‘schools’, and ‘science’ which can pervade.

Bridie with the 4 GTPs after the school assembly presentation

Bridie and the 4 GTP stars after their school assembly presentation.

If we are to continue to effectively prevent injury, we need to make science accessible to everyone, and to the next generation especially.

 

I love a sunburnt country

10 Mar, 16 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

I received an email this week from a friend and colleague, alerting me to a report recently released by the Royal Flying Doctor Service:  The Royal Flying Doctor Service: Responding to injuries in remote and rural Australia.

The reports on falls, burns, poisonings, transport accidents, workplace injuries, drownings, self-harm and assault, with Australians living in remote and very remote areas:

  • Almost twice as likely as city residents to sustain an injury, and 2.2 times more likely to be hospitalised for an injury;
  • Four times more likely to die from a transport related injury than major city residents;
  • 3.8 times (remote) and 4.2 times (very remote) more likely to die from assault than major city residents; and
  • 1.7 times (remote) and 1.8 times (very remote) more likely to die from suicide than major city residents.

Injuries are a leading cause of death and hospitalisation among children—more children die from injuries (36%), than from cancer (19%) and diseases of the nervous system (11%) combined; Indigenous Australians; and agricultural workers.

While, as an injury prevention researcher, I encourage you all to become familiar with the report and the findings, the email sparked two memories for me. The first was a conversation with US colleagues after I invited them to come to visit Australia as we worked collaboratively. If you search the internet, you will find many animals might try to kill you. We have crocodiles, irukandji jellyfish, snakes, spiders, and my colleagues could share many more animals-of-death. Having lived in Australia my whole life, I reassured them that the likelihood of them meeting an untimely demise during their trip was pretty low, and the good news is they went home in one piece.

The second memory – sparked almost instantaneously – was a flashback to my childood. During primary school we learnt the most wonderful poem, My Country, by Dorothea Mackellar, by rote. This stanza in particular has always remained with me:

I love a sunburnt country,

A land of sweeping plains,

Of ragged mountain ranges,

Of droughts and flooding rains.

I love her far horizons,

I love her jewel sea,

Her beauty and her terror –

The wide brown land for me!

Despite the beauty of the poem, and that I love thinking about how this poem resonates with me, growing up in the country can be dangerous for many reasons, including the fact that medical assistance is not always close by.

p values misused

8 Mar, 16 | by Barry Pless

Don’t ask me why but I follow Retraction Watch faithfully. Recently there was a posting about p values I thought would be of interest to our readers and contributors. Here it is verbatim.

“We’re using a common statistical test all wrong. Statisticians want to fix that.

After reading too many papers that either are not reproducible or contain statistical errors (or both), the American Statistical Association (ASA) has been roused to action. Today the group released six principles for the use and interpretation of p values. P-values are used to search for differences between groups or treatments, to evaluate relationships between variables of interest, and for many other purposes. But the ASA says they are widely misused. Here are the six principles from the ASA statement:

P-values can indicate how incompatible the data are with a specified statistical model.
P-values do not measure the probability that the studied hypothesis is true, or the probability that the data were produced by random chance alone.
Scientific conclusions and business or policy decisions should not be based only on whether a p-value passes a specific threshold.
Proper inference requires full reporting and transparency.
A p-value, or statistical significance, does not measure the size of an effect or the importance of a result.
By itself, a p-value does not provide a good measure of evidence regarding a model or hypothesis.
We spoke with Ron Wasserstein, ASA’s executive director, about the new principles.

Retraction Watch: Why release these “six principles” now? What about this moment in research history made this a particularly pertinent problem?

Ron Wasserstein: We were inspired to act because of the growing recognition of a reproducibility crisis in science (see, for example, the National Academy of Sciences recent report) and a tendency to blame statistical methods for the problem. The fact that editors of a scholarly journal – Basic and Applied Social Psychology — were so frustrated with research that misused and misinterpreted p-values that they decided to ban them in 2015 confirmed that a crisis of confidence was at hand, and we could no longer stand idly by.

Retraction Watch: Some of the principles seem straightforward, but I was curious about #2 – I often hear people describe the purpose of a p value as a way to estimate the probability the data were produced by random chance alone. Why is that a false belief?

Ron Wasserstein: Let’s think about what that statement would mean for a simplistic example. Suppose a new treatment for a serious disease is alleged to work better than the current treatment. We test the claim by matching 5 pairs of similarly ill patients and randomly assigning one to the current and one to the new treatment in each pair. The null hypothesis is that the new treatment and the old each have a 50-50 chance of producing the better outcome for any pair. If that’s true, the probability the new treatment will win for all five pairs is (½)5 = 1/32, or about 0.03. If the data show that the new treatment does produce a better outcome for all 5 pairs, the p-value is 0.03. It represents the probability of that result, under the assumption that the new and old treatments are equally likely to win. It is not the probability the new treatment and the old treatment are equally likely to win.

This is perhaps subtle, but it is not quibbling. It is a most basic logical fallacy to conclude something is true that you had to assume to be true in order to reach that conclusion. If you fall for that fallacy, then you will conclude there is only a 3% chance that the treatments are equally likely to produce the better outcome, and assign a 97% chance that the new treatment is better. You will have committed, as Vizzini says in “The Princess Bride,” a classic (and serious) blunder.

Retraction Watch: What are the biggest mistakes you see researchers make when using and interpreting p values?

Ron Wasserstein: There are several misinterpretations that are prevalent and problematic. The one I just mentioned is common. Another frequent misinterpretation is concluding that a null hypothesis is true because a computed p-value is large. There are other common misinterpretations as well. However, what concerns us even more are the misuses, particularly the misuse of statistical significance as an arbiter of scientific validity. Such misuse contributes to poor decision making and lack of reproducibility, and ultimately erodes not only the advance of science but also public confidence in science.

Retraction Watch: Do some fields publish more mistakes than others?

Ron Wasserstein: As far as I know, that question hasn’t been studied. My sense is that all scientific fields have glaring examples of mistakes, and all fields have beautiful examples of statistics done well. However, in general, the fields in which it is easiest to misuse p-values and statistical significance are those which have a lot of studies with multiple measurements on each participant or experimental unit. Such research presents the opportunity to p-hack your way to findings that likely have no scientific merit.

Retraction Watch: Can you elaborate on #4: “Proper inference requires full reporting and transparency”?

Ron Wasserstein: There is a lot to this, of course, but in short, from a statistical standpoint this means to keep track of and report all the decisions you made about your data, including the design and execution of the data collection and everything you did with that data during the data analysis process. Did you average across groups or combine groups in some way? Did you use the data to determine which variables to examine or control, or which data to include or exclude in the final analysis? How are missing observations handled? Did you add and drop variables until your regression models and coefficients passed a bright-line level of significance? Those decisions, and any other decisions you made about statistical analysis based on the data itself, need to be accounted for.

Retraction Watch: You note in a press release accompanying the ASA statement that you’re hoping research moves into a “post p<0.05” era – what do you mean by that? And if we don’t use p values, what do we use instead?

Ron Wasserstein: In the post p<0.05 era, scientific argumentation is not based on whether a p-value is small enough or not. Attention is paid to effect sizes and confidence intervals. Evidence is thought of as being continuous rather than some sort of dichotomy. (As a start to that thinking, if p-values are reported, we would see their numeric value rather than an inequality (p=.0168 rather than p<0.05)). All of the assumptions made that contribute information to inference should be examined, including the choices made regarding which data is analyzed and how. In the post p<0.05 era, sound statistical analysis will still be important, but no single numerical value, and certainly not the p-value, will substitute for thoughtful statistical and scientific reasoning.

Retraction Watch: Anything else you’d like to add?

Ron Wasserstein: If the statement succeeds in its purpose, we will know it because journals will stop using statistical significance to determine whether to accept an article. Instead, journals will be accepting papers based on clear and detailed description of the study design, execution, and analysis, having conclusions that are based on valid statistical interpretations and scientific arguments, and reported transparently and thoroughly enough to be rigorously scrutinized by others. I think this is what journal editors want to do, and some already do, but others are captivated by the seeming simplicity of statistical significance.

Pless note: I would be interested if any readers disagree. Please outline your views in 20 words or less. (Just kidding)

Undergraduate research experience

9 Nov, 15 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

I read an interesting blog last week in which two undergraduate students shared their perspectives after completing a research placement, and it prompted me to reflect upon my own research training, and how much of what we researchers – while it sometimes feels as if it is innate – is actually learned skills and abilities (oft by trial and error) that need to be shared with our up-and-coming researchers. Today I want to share a recent experience with an undergraduate student from another Queensland university.

I was approached by Sehana last month regarding the potential to gain some experience in research during her summer semester studies. I invited her to accompany myself and my University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) Research Assistant Ms Jamie Caldwell as we collected data during week four of the the first wave of an 18-month longitudinal study. Today Sehana shares her story:

When speaking to the placement officer at USC regarding a work experience in research, Bridie Scott-Parker was the first name she mentioned.  She thought the placement would be perfect for me especially because of Bridie’s extensive knowledge in research and having recently being awarded the Tall Poppy Science award for her research contributions. 
 
From reading about her extensive research online, reading a couple of her published papers, and speaking to her about her work, I am now a full convert to “the dark side of research” – as she calls it.
 
Throughout my degree I have done numerous research assignments, doing certain sections of a report for various courses.  You are always given data, or parts of the report are completed for you and you do the rest.  I have never been involved in any research related activities out in the real world. 
 
We visited a school, collecting and distributing surveys and sleep diaries to adolescent school children.  From the beginning there were issues that as a novice researcher caught me off guard.  The students came in drips and drabs, many did not have their sleep diaries, others had multiple from previous weeks, some students did not attend at all. 
 
I stood there the entire time panicking with “missing data” running through my head, while Bridie and Jamie casually took it all in their stride.  It wasn’t until I reflected on it at the end that my theoretical learning and practical experience actually fit together.  And it was exactly that – experience – which they had and I didn’t that made the difference. 
 
I could see that Bridie and Jamie both had enough experience to know the little things such as bringing spare pens and surveys.  It was when I heard them speaking about participant codes for the research that I realised my degree may have taught me how to do ANOVAs and correlations, but experience like this, out in the real world, surrounded by real participants (and real missing data) is invaluable. 
 
The first day of any job is nerve wrecking, but I feel this experience has taken away much of the anxiety associated with being a graduate fresh in the research field.  I would highly recommend to anyone who is leaning towards a research career to spend time with real researchers, speak to them, help collect data and just see how it all works in the real world. 

Ms Sehana Naz

Dissemination and implementation of best practice in falls prevention across Europe

28 Aug, 15 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

As injury prevention researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers, we are all aware that falls are an important public health issue. Today I wanted to profile a novel approach to preventing falls. Dr Helen Hawley-Hague of the University of Manchester is the Scientific Coordinator of ProFouND, the Prevention of Falls Network for Dissemination, and she has shared with me some information regarding this innovative injury prevention approach.

ProFouND is a European Commission-funded initiative dedicated to bring about the dissemination and implementation of best practice in falls prevention across Europe. ProFouND comprises 21 partners from 12 countries, with a further 10 associate members. ProFouND aims to

  • influence policy to increase awareness of falls and innovative prevention programmes among health and social care authorities, the commercial sector, NGOs and the general public,
  • ultimately increasing the delivery of evidence-based practice in falls prevention and
  • therefore reducing the numbers of falls and injurious falls experienced by older adults across Europe.

ProFouND contributes to the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP-AHA), with the ultimate objective of adding an average of two active healthy life years to the lives of European citizens by 2020. ProFouND’s objective is to embed evidence-based fall prevention programmes for elderly people at risk of falls using novel ICT solutions in at least 10 countries/15 EU regions by the end of 2015, thus to reduce falls incidence in those regions by 2020. The following resources are available to support falls injury prevention:

  1. ProFouND Falls Prevention App (PFNApp), accessible for registered health care practitioners and available in multiple languages;
  2. Cascade training using face-to-face and e-learning approaches and available in multiple languages; and
  3. A free resources library, in addition to information regarding upcoming conferences, and other recent research.

Having seen the ramifications of falls in my own family, with my elderly grandmother fracturing both her pelvis and vertebrae in one fall, this program definitely seems like a step in the right direction!

 

 

Home safety and the prevention of falls

17 Aug, 15 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) Safety Centre has created a new online resource to tackle the number one cause of injury to children in Victoria, Australia – falls.

Targeting parents of children aged from birth to 14 years old, the site details simple steps parents and caregivers can take to prevent common injuries by age group, such as

* changing a baby’s nappy on the floor rather than on an elevated change table, and

* wearing protective gear, including mouth guards, when playing contact sports.

RCH Trauma Service Manager Helen Jowett says the frequency of under 14-year-olds requiring a hospital admission following a fall has increased by 29 per cent since 1998, at an annual cost of $18.6 million.

Most of those injuries occur in the home and behind those statistics are children like Ella, who had a tough lesson in gravity when she fell from a tree she was climbing in her back garden. The eight-year-old, from country Victoria, landed head-first when she fell, and was rushed to her local hospital where she was assessed as having a significant head injury.

Ella was promptly sent to The Royal Children’s Hospital by air ambulance for emergency surgery. After discharge, she spent several weeks resting and was unable to play contact sport for three months.

The new website shows that, unlike Ella’s hospital stay, safety around the home doesn’t need to be expensive, emotionally draining, complicated, or time-consuming.

Importantly for injury prevention around the world, the website is an easy-to-access repository for information regarding, and links to, useful tips and advice that can be applied in any home anywhere, anytime. For example, falls-prevention safety pertaining to furniture, and to bunk beds specifically, may have helped prevent my nephew from breaking his arm as a young boy.

Traffic lights…robots…robocops?

5 Aug, 15 | by Sheree Bekker

101st Anniversary of the First Electric Traffic Signal System

The early twentieth-century intersection was a strange scene. While the world’s largest automobile manufacturer sold over 20,000 cars a month in 1914, horse-drawn wagons and carts still crowded the streets, and accidents became increasingly frequent. Intersections in major cities were congested, and traffic was directed by police officers who stood in the middle of chaotic highways waving their arms–an unenviable beat, to say the least, especially during a blustery winter in the Midwest.

A solution to the problem was woefully overdue. Gas-lit stoplights appeared in England before the turn of the century, but these had a tendency to explode, and mechanically operated signs that displayed the words “stop” and “move” still relied on traffic attendants. Enter the inspiration of today’s Doodle, the electric traffic signal, which was first installed at the corner of 105th and Euclid in Cleveland, Ohio on August 5th, 1914.

~ Google Doodle 5 August 2015

My morning started with the google doodle above, which led (as is usual for me) to a tweet:

I have been wondering all day why I grew up (in South Africa) saying “turn left at the next robot” – which has often led to strange looks and hilarious consequences now that I live in Australia!

Wikipedia revealed that:

The etymology of the word robot (traffic light) derives from a description of early traffic lights as robot policemen, which then got truncated with time

While in South Africa this is simply a matter of semantics, it seems that another country in Africa has taken this likeness a step further. This same google search for the traffic light/robot connection led me to this recent article: Robocops being used as traffic police in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Yes: large solar-powered ROBOCOPS!

A follow-up piece: Kinshasa’s traffic robots: ‘I thought it was some kind of joke’ – in pictures is fascinating!

These robocops were developed by a Congolese association of women engineers, to tackle the problem of traffic safety in Kinshasa in a novel way:

“In our city, someone can commit an offence and run away, and say that no one saw him. But now, day or night, we’ll be able to see him in real time and he will pay his fine” ~ Therese Izay 

Whilst I did not do a comprehensive search, I failed to find any research underpinning the Robocop initiative (if you know of any please share!). Sure, at first glance, injury prevention researchers will have questions about the issues potentially inherent to the robocop initiative – but many of us are also mightily privileged in the resources at our disposal (which is why the open access movement is vitally important), and, crucially, have never been to Kinshasa. Approaches to solve problems that have worked in some contexts will not necessarily work in others. The real world demands nuance, and is complex.

What this does show is that people in the Democratic Republic of Congo are willing to look outside the box to new innovations to make their cities safer. It is time to look at old problems in new ways. We often forget that innovation and creativity can be the lifeblood of academic research too. How can we all add little more playful creativity to our work to seek to find these innovative solutions? Bridie Scott-Parker has written here before that we should look for injury prevention ideas everywhere.

Perhaps this world DOES need more robocops after all!

 

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