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Offbeat

Injury prevention and the musician

16 Jun, 14 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

It doesn’t seem right that something so beautiful as music can cause terrible, enduring pain for the creator.

Miss Imogen Scott-Parker preparing for a concert

Miss Imogen Scott-Parker preparing for a concert

Sharing my home with an aspiring concert pianist (a busy young lady who has also spent years studying violin, harp, and classical voice) means I have seen first hand just what can happen through overuse, incorrect practice, or simply through not knowing what the consequences may be. She has also shared stories of the pain experienced by fellow musicians as they commit themselves – quite vigorously at times - to perfecting their craft. Such injuries can have devastating, long-term consequences, with permanent conditions meaning a change in career may not be a choice, rather the only option.

My daughter commenced her tertiary studies this year, and pleasingly one of her classes covered how to practice ‘smart’, so that less time was spent fixing more problems, thus minimising exposure to potential injury. If injured, the students were advised to cease practice immediately and to notify teachers of any discomfort and pain in particular. Students were also provided with contact details for a physiotherapist who specialises in music-related injury management.

Consistent with this advice, my daughter mentioned to her instrumental teacher that she was experiencing pain whilst practising certain pieces of music for lengthy periods. Her teacher strongly counselled her to immediately cease all practice, including typing (which is fundamentally the same movements as playing a piano), and allow her wrists, her thumbs, and her little fingers time to recuperate. Her teacher is mindful that she has relatively small, young hands (she is 15 years old) and is playing quite challenging repertoire.

Given my first-hand exposure to the realm of injury in music, I had a look through some recent publications. If you are interested, here are some interesting papers: Rickert, Barrett and Ackermann have produced a two-part series exploring injury in the orchestral environment (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24337034 ; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24925177); Chan, Driscoll, & Ackermann examined the usefulness of triage services for professional orchestral musicians (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23506482); and the reframing of the injury-prevention issue of likening musicians to athletes was an interesting read (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24225525).

Connecting, coordination and coverage is crucial: my experiences with Fatality Free Friday

2 Jun, 14 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

Dr Bridie Scott-Parker (University of the Sunshine Coast Accident Research), Councillor Rick Baberowski, Ms Megan Cawkwell (Sunshine Coast Council) [Photo courtesy Ms Vanessa Clarke]

Dr Bridie Scott-Parker (University of the Sunshine Coast Accident Research), Councillor Rick Baberowski, Ms Megan Cawkwell (Sunshine Coast Council) [Photo courtesy Ms Vanessa Clarke]

 

Last Friday, May 28, was Fatality Free Friday (see http://www.fatalityfreefriday.com/)  here in Australia. The aim of the event is Not a single road death in Australia for just one day. Just one Fatality Free Friday.

The Fatality Free Friday website states:

We believe that if drivers are asked to actively concentrate on road safety and safe driving for just one day in the year, they’ll drive safer for the next few days too and, over time, change their outlook completely, consciously thinking about safety each and every day they get behind the wheel.

Whilst as an evidence-based practitioner and methodologically-rigorous researcher I realise that this is not necessarily the most effective manner in which to prevent injury on the road, I was delighted to participate in my the Fatality Free Friday events of my local region for the three reasons listed in the title:

1. Connecting: Injury prevention professionals need to connect – simply espousing what the evidence suggests should be done is not enough. At a fundamental level we humans are social beings, and making the connection (the fifth ‘E’ of engagement) is often the key to making any inroads in injury prevention. We need to connect with policy-makers, we need to connect with those whom we are trying to protect, and we need to connect with our colleagues-in-arms. Connecting can be as simple as speaking to one person about how they can prevent injury (for example, at the local event), translating what the research means in real words for real people (such as in my University lecture later that morning), and giving tips regarding how to stay safe to those who may not be sure what to do (like during drive-time radio).

2. Coordination: The event was organised by Sunshine Coast Council, and attending stakeholders included Transport and Main Roads, Queensland Police, Maurice Blackburn lawyers, Coastwide Driving School, motorcycle champion Chris Vermeulen, and parents and friends of those lost to road crashes in addition to myself. We all play a part in road safety, so it is important we are coordinated in our efforts whenever we can have the opportunity.

3. Coverage: I can conduct all the research I want; however if I can’t translate this into practice through connecting, coordinating and coverage, how is this going to advance the world of injury prevention? We need our research translated into the real world, and coverage is essential.

How can you be active in injury prevention?

 

Look for injury prevention ideas everywhere

26 May, 14 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

Conferences – I’m a huge fan! Regular readers of the blog will know I have shared my thoughts about the benefits of conference attendance/presentation/participation etc. Today I continue my sharing by telling you about one of the best ideas I heard at the most recent conference within which I had the great fortune to participate.

First, some background. I am a post-doctoral researcher, focusing upon improving young driver road safety. Over the years I have attended, presented at, and/or participated in a wide variety of conferences, including those more generally addressing road safety and injury prevention, and more specifically addressing particular risk factors such as adolescent psychological distress and learning-to-drive. I have found each and every one of these conferences to be an invaluable source not only of education, but, most importantly, inspiration and engagement.

Second, having said that, conferences are what you make of them. You need to listen to different ideas (and you may not necessarily agree with these, which is often the best source of inspiration), and you need to speak with others, whether they presented themselves or simply attended due to a burning interest. The sky is the limit.

Third, and my point for today – I learnt something very important at this conference. Attend conferences (and other networking/learning/engaging opportunities) outside your ‘area of interest’, and you might be surprised by what you learn, who you meet, and the range and breadth of inspired collaborative projects which may emerge. In my own case, as a trained psychologist and scientist, I had never considered attending, for example, an engineering conference. However, this makes sense. For example, civil engineers create the roads upon which all my young drivers travel; automotive engineers create the vehicles within which all my young drivers travel; computer engineers create the computer systems in the vehicles in which all my young drivers travel. Do civil engineers, automotive engineers, and computer engineers think about the young drivers who will be travelling on, through, and within their creations? I don’t know, but I will find out!

I hope I have encouraged you to ‘think outside the box’.

 

From evidence to policy and practice

13 May, 14 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

Regular readers of the Injury Prevention blog will be quite familiar with my obsession for getting our rigorous research translated into policy and practice. I regularly hear from individuals in industry and government, not to mention the general community, that researchers are great at communicating with other researchers, and not so great at communicating with ‘normal people’. Upon hearing this I have decided to create one-page summaries of my journal articles and conference papers, in plain English, summarising for the ‘normal person’ what I did, what I found, and what it means for them.

So you can understand my delight at reading an article published in a recent edition of Social Science & Medicine (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24632115). Zardo, Collie and Livingstone decided to wrangle with the twofold problem of getting research translated into policy and practice: “identify external factors that affect policy and program decision-making, and use this evidence to inform targeting of interventions aimed at increasing research use (in the context of injury prevention and rehabilitation compensation in Victoria, Australia)”.

Interestingly the interviews with employees from two state government agencies revealed that the following stakeholders were most influential, suggesting that researchers need to target these stakeholders if they are to be influential in  government policy and practice.

* the Minister and the government,

* lawyers, and

* agency stakeholders, including health providers, trade unions, and employer groups.

I love the idea of working smarter, not harder!

Poorly-fitted child seats an injury waiting to happen

24 Apr, 14 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

Thinking about the recalls yesterday, particularly those related to child seats, reminded me of a recent story I read recently. A 2013 survey of over 10,000 child seats in England, Wales and Scotland revealed that 60% of the child seats were poorly-fitted (see http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/470156/Millions-of-infants-at-risk-60-per-cent-of-all-child-seats-not-fitted-safely). One poorly-fitted child seat is a problem, let alone 6,000 in a sample of 10,000. This statistic is alarming.

Why is this an issue? According to Kevin Clinton, head of Road Safety at the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents in the United Kingdom,

“The importance of properly fitting a child seat cannot be overstated. Make sure it is compatible with the car and remember to seek expert help on fitting. We encourage parents to check that the seat is fitted correctly before every journey, esp­ecially if they are regularly taking it in and out of the car.”

He urged the public to “avoid purchasing second-hand car seats as they might not comply with the latest standards, the fitting instructions may be missing and you cannot be sure of their history, such as whether they have been in an accident.”

So why isn’t the message getting through to parents? As a parent myself, I cannot imagine another parent willingly installing a child seat in an unsafe manner, deliberately putting their child in harm’s way. How do stakeholders important in injury prevention get the message across?

Timely action is particularly important when we consider that our most vulnerable could be travelling at 110km/hr, with parents mistakenly believing that their child is as safe as possible. Timely action is also especially important when we realise that this has been an issue for some time (eg., a 2011 story reporting similar statistics: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2011/sep/17/child-car-seats-motoring).

It will continue to be an issue unless more is done, and sooner rather than later.

 

Recalls on the radar

23 Apr, 14 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

Over the past few months I have noticed an abundance of recalls for various products, including mass recalls after ignition switch defects in General Motors cars. As noted on their website (http://www.gmignitionupdate.com/faq.html),

“There is a risk, under certain conditions, that your ignition switch may move out of the “run” position, resulting in a partial loss of electrical power and turning off the engine. This risk increases if your key ring is carrying added weight (such as more keys or the key fob) or your vehicle experiences rough road conditions or other jarring or impact related events. If the ignition switch is not in the run position, the air bags may not deploy if the vehicle is involved in a crash, increasing the risk of injury or fatality.

Additionally, some of these vehicles have a condition in which the ignition key may be removed when the vehicle gear is not in the “Off” position. If the ignition key is removed when the ignition is not in the “Off” position, unintended vehicle motion may occur: (a) for an automatic transmission, if the transmission is not in “Park”; or (b) for a manual transmission, if the parking brake is not engaged and the transmission is not in reverse gear. This could result in a vehicle crash and occupant or pedestrian injuries.”

Alarmingly many of these recent recalls are products intended to protect our youngest and most vulnerable, for example child seats (eg., faulty harness buckles, http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/03/13/graco-adds-more-child-seats-to-recall/6365789/), and cots (eg., possible entrapment of infant limbs,  http://www.recalls.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/1054130).

Some food-related recalls are of particular concern, given the potentially-life threatening nature of many nut allergies (eg., cereal, http://www.recalls.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/1057890; Easter eggs, http://www.recalls.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/1057600).

Whilst I have heard about these recalls through different means (such as newspapers, online forums, and active research for this blog), I wonder how many of the products’ consumers actually know about these recalls? We received a letter earlier this year advising that our model of Sonata required a minor tweak to circumvent potential brake-related issues (ironically enough this ‘minor tweak’ radically affected the vehicle’s braking, as the replacement part itself was faulty). What if the consumer has moved address (which is entirely possible given we purchased the vehicle 5 years ago), does not have internet access, and does not subscribe to or read a newspaper? Should there be greater onus on producers to not only ensure that they have as safe a product as possible in the marketplace, but that they also make every effort (and not a ‘token’ effort) to ensure that they minimise any potential harm that could be caused by their faulty product by ensuring they recall, then repair/replace these products, in a timely manner for the consumer?

Low speed vehicle run-over incidents remain in the spotlight

31 Mar, 14 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

PubMed abounds with articles exploring the epidemiology of low speed vehicle run-overs (e.g., doi: 10.1136/ip.2010.030304; 10.1111/jpc.12188; 10.1111/wvn.12014; 10.1136/injuryprev-2013-040932; 10.1186/1471-2458-14-245; 10.1186/1471-2458-14-245). The devastating consequences of low speed vehicle run-over incidents has led to a plethora of suggested intervention and ‘tips’ for parents and others interested in child and infant injury prevention (for example, http://www.kidsafewa.com.au/drivewaysafety.html; http://www.safekids.org.nz/index.php/page/driveway-run-over-kit-locations; http://www.keepyourchildsafe.org/child-safety-book/child-driveway-accidents.html). In addition, after-market reversing cameras are available for purchase, and many new cars now come with this option as a standard feature.

Despite these resources, low speed vehicle run-overs continue to occur and they are not an isolated phenomenon unfortunately. Examples are commonly found in the news media (e.g., in Australia earlier this month: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/2153058/baby-hospitalised-after-being-run-over-in-driveway-by-4wd/). In New Zealand, a news report summarising a recent tragedy finished with a summary of 7 other driveway deaths (see http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/9879675/Child-run-over-in-driveway-dies). Similar events are also summarised in an article reporting a 2013 tragedy in Texas (see http://www.theeagle.com/news/local/article_55db2af5-f68b-5344-9e00-60c79f109c6a.html).

So how do we progress in preventing injury to our most vulnerable? Are parents and other caregivers unaware of the potentially-devastating injuries that can be sustained in the family driveway, thus suggesting that education is the key? Or is engineering, in the form of barriers and mandatory cameras, the solution? I would argue that a multilevel approach is needed, and is needed urgently. I welcome your ideas!

 

 

 

A radical step in injury prevention – preventing table-saw injuries

5 Mar, 14 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

 

After blogging “Table saw 1, Injury-free arm and hand 0” on the 20th of May last year, I have remained alert to news regarding installation of injury prevention devices on table saws. Pleasingly my father has left the building industry with all his digits and limbs intact, however other table-saw users have not fared to so well. Last year I noted that the injury prevention technology was available, however it was recognised that the technology was likely to increase the initial purchase price of the table saw.

In a radical step in injury prevention, over the past week I have learned that a federal antitrust lawsuit has been filed by the developer of the injury prevention technology – SawStop LLC – with the complaint naming major power tool companies who feared increased legal liability from table saw injuries if the technology was introduced by some companies and not others. As such, it is claimed that

Defendants engaged in a group boycott of Plaintiff’s safety products for table saws beginning around 2001 or 2002…”

As an injury prevention professional, this statement brings about an almost visceral response as I reflect with sheer horror on the many oft-permanent injuries that could have been prevented if product safety, instead of the almighty dollar, had been a priority for any of these companies at any point over the last dozen years. I hope other injury prevention professionals are just as outraged by this audacity.

Read more at http://www.fairwarning.org/2014/02/power-tool-makers-accused-in-lawsuit-of-thwarting-adoption-of-finger-saving-device/ and http://www.allgov.com/news/controversies/power-tool-makers-fight-against-finger-saving-device-140302?news=852569.

Grumpy over-protective Nanny Barry

2 Mar, 14 | by Barry Pless

Am I the only person in the injury prevention world who watched the Olympics with a mixture of admiration and condemnation? What struck me — and perhaps only me — was that virtually every one of the ‘sports’ were dangerous. The danger element ranged from simple falls on the ice for dancers without helmets to snowboarders flipping over from considerable heights.  Not that I understand it, but only curling seemed reasonably free of danger. I am not exaggerating when I say that as I reviewed all the others in my mind I found no other that I would want to encourage my children or grandchildren to pursue. Of course if athletes want to get on a luge sled or skeleton sled and slide down an icy track at more than 100 mph that is their choice and I would not wish to interfere. But it does trouble me that they are setting examples for children and adolescents who would like to share the fame and, dare I say it, riches that follow successes at the Olympics. The Olympics seems to be all about risk taking to an excessive degree. In Vancouver we had one luge death. In Sochi I can’t remember any serious injuries but lots of near misses to say nothing of those who bravely (but perhaps foolishly) chose to compete while injured. That includes Canada’s very own gold medal winning goalie!

So, yes, I am grumpy; and I am over-protective; and I do believe in the nanny state. By all means explain why you think I am wrong if you disagree. 

Overcoming obstacles encountered in translating research into practice

28 Feb, 14 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

 

Regular readers of the injury prevention blog will know I have commented on a number of occasions regarding the need to (1) share our research findings, and (2) translate research into practice and policy. Whilst this is the ideal, I also realise that there are many obstacles to this being the actual, another topic upon which I have lamented. With this in mind, I was pleased to see an article summarising the efforts of researchers to improve the uptake of “Mayday Safety Procedure” by coaches to manage injury in one of Australia’s most popular sports, rugby union.

With challenges in translating research into practice in mind, the researchers note that

the translation of injury prevention policy into community practice can be enhanced by developing and implementing a theory-informed, context-specific diffusion plan, undertaken in partnership with key stakeholders“.

The statistically significant improvements in Mayday knowledge and practice reported by the authors have bolstered my hopes that research findings can be translated into policy and practice in other safety-critical injury prevention domains.

Read more at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24566099.

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