Children and injury prevention

I read an interesting article recently, in which the authors explored the burden of sport- and exercise-related injury in children aged 14 years or less. The frequency, years lived with disability, bed-days, and direct hospital costs were explored for  non-fatally injured, hospital-treated children treated in a private or public hospital in Victoria (Australia) over a seven-year period. Finch, Wong Shee, & Clapperton (see http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/4/7/e005043.full) note a significant increase in the burden of injury, including a 29% increase in injury over the seven-year timeframe.

Whilst personally I have reservations regarding the authors’ approach of comparing the burden of traffic-related injuries during the same period (related to my belief that injury prevention researchers can inadvertently ‘muddy’ the injury prevention burden and thus intervention focus, particularly when it may appear to those outside of injury prevention that the injury mechanisms, and therefore the injury prevention social and financial resources, are in ‘competition’ with each other; and, unrelatedly, exposure to each mechanism of injury could not be determined), some interesting findings were drawn. For example, traffic-related injury fell by 26% during the same period, with sports injury accounting for three times as many years lived with disability, 1.9 times as many hospital-bed days; and 2.6 times as much hospital costs.

I particularly liked the statement, as noted by the authors,  that “When non-fatal disability resulting from injuries is taken into consideration along with the mortality burden, injuries are shown to be an even more important health problem.” Whilst obtaining accurate records regarding injury can be problematic (including but not limited to accuracy and completeness of information, linkages of databases, and non/specificity of injury mechanisms), it is only with these figures do we have an understanding of the nature and magnitude of any injury. This information is of utmost importance for effective intervention.

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