Injuries

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An injury is any damage to your body, ranging from minor to life-threatening. It is a general term that refers to harm caused by falls, accidents, burns, assault, and many other factors. Injuries can occur at work or play, indoors or outdoors, on the road or in the comfort of your own home.

This section covers 4 very significant areas concerning injury: child injuries, traumatic brain injuries, road traffic injuries, and falls by the elderly.

Child injuries are a global health problem and the leading cause of death for children after their first birthday. Whether at home, school or play, you can help keep your children safe by following our simple tips to prevent child injury.

Traumatic brain injuries occur when there is an external force to the head that in some way injures the brain. Because this type of injury runs the risk of causing life-long complications or death, it is extremely important to learn ways to reduce the danger of traumatic brain injuries. We’ve created a section to help with this.

Many people die on the world's roads every day and tens of millions of people are injured or disabled every year. As a pedestrian, driver or passenger, it is essential to take precautions on the road. Educate yourself on good practices related to helmet and seat-belt wearing, driving responsibly, and being visible in traffic as a pedestrian.

The elderly are one of the most vulnerable groups when it comes to injuries, particularly in and around the home, with falls being the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries among this group. Drawing the attention of older people and their carers to fall prevention strategies can reduce the risk of injury. See our section Falls and the Elderly for more information.

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Child injuries are a global health problem and the leading cause of death for children after their first birthday. In fact, more than 2000 children die every day from an injury that could have been prevented, according to the World Health Organization .

We all want to keep our children safe and secure, while encouraging them to learn and develop. Yet a large proportion of child injuries, including falls, burns or drowning, occur in either the home or in leisure environments. Many of these injuries are predictable and therefore largely preventable. The tips below outline some of the simple things that can be done to keep kids safe from injury.

  • Play safely: Falls on the playground are a common cause of injury. Check to make certain that the surfaces under playground equipment are safe, soft, and well- maintained. Also, make sure your child is using play equipment that is appropriate for his or her age.
  • Make your home safer: Use home safety devices, such as guards on windows that are above ground level, stair gates, and guard rails. These devices can help keep a busy, active child from taking a dangerous tumble.
  • Keep sports safe: Make sure your child wears protective gear, such as helmets, knee pads and wrist guards, during sports and recreation.
  • Supervise your children: Supervise young children at all times around fall hazards, such as stairs and playground equipment, whether you’re at home or out to play.
  • Remove poisonous products out of reach of children: Remove any toxic products from your home that do not have to be stored there and store all drugs and other poisons in a locked container or cabinet. Purchasing medication in child-resistant packaging is also helpful.
  • Limit access to water hazards: Install four-sided fencing around your swimming pool and cover or remove all water hazards in and around the house, such as water features.
  • Remove matches and lighters: Keep matches and lighters out of a child’s reach, preferably in a locked cabinet.
  • Install and check smoke alarms: Install smoke alarms on every level of the house, outside all sleeping areas, and inside each bedroom. Test the smoke alarms every month to make sure they’re working.
  • Practice proper road safety: Always use a child car seat restraint when driving with a young child. Teach your children to stop, look and listen when crossing a road, and to choose the safest place to cross.
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Traumatic brain injury occurs when there is an external force to the head that in some way injures the brain. It can vary from a minor blow to the head to a life changing brain injury due to major trauma. Mild traumatic brain injury may cause temporary dizziness or light headedness. More serious traumatic brain injury can result in torn tissues, bleeding and other physical damage to the brain, which can lead to long-term complications or death.

Common causes of traumatic brain injuries are falls, motor vehicle accidents, assault, and sports or physical activity. According to Cleveland Clinic , traumatic brain injuries happen to males twice as often as they do to females, with males 15 to 24 years of age having the highest risk.

If any type of head injury results in loss of consciousness, no matter how brief, see a doctor as soon as possible.  While not all traumatic brain injuries can be prevented, measures can be taken to reduce the risk of the injury. These include:

  • Wear helmets: Wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, skateboard or motorcycle. A large amount of motorcycle and bicycle-related head injuries are preventable with helmets.
  • Use seat belts and airbags: Always wear a seat belt in a motor vehicle. Airbags in cars have also been shown to reduce the number of traumatic brain injuries.
  • Apply fall prevention strategies: Falls are a common cause of injury, particularly in the elderly. Paying attention to fall prevention strategies, such as installing handrails in bathrooms and staircases, may prevent traumatic brain injuries.
  • Protect your head when playing sports: Wear appropriate head protection when playing sports, such as rugby, baseball, skiing, snowboarding or riding a horse.
  • Don’t drive under the influence: Don't drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications that can impair the ability to drive.
  • Remove hazards around the home: Put a nonslip mat in your bathtub or shower, make sure rugs are secure and keep staircases clutter free. To protect children from head injuries, install safety gates at the top of stairs and put in window guards to prevent falls.
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Nearly 3,400 people die on the world's roads every day and tens of millions of people are injured or disabled every year. Globally, road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death in 10 to 19 year olds. In low-income and middle-income countries, most traffic deaths are among pedestrians, passengers in vehicles or on two-wheelers. In high-income countries, most deaths are among inexperienced drivers.

Promoting good practices related to helmet and seat-belt wearing, not drinking and driving, not speeding and being visible in traffic can make a big difference in reducing the amount of deaths and injuries on roads. Tips to prevent road traffic injuries include:

  • Make sure everyone in your vehicle wears a seat belt and that children riding in your car are strapped into an appropriate, approved child restraint. 
  • Never drive when under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including certain prescription medications.
  • Don’t drive during normal sleep hours to prevent micro sleeps.
  • Limit driving to no more than 8 hours on the road per day to avoid drowsy driving, and stop for a 15-minute rest every two hours.
  • Travel well-lighted and busy streets whenever possible. If you need to ask for directions, stop in an open, public area.
  • Never talk on the phone, read or send text messages while behind the wheel as driving demands your full attention.
  • Drive responsibly and obey traffic laws.
  • Before driving long distances, make sure that your car is ready for travel. Check the tire tread, battery, antifreeze, windows and brakes.
  • Avoid driving late at night. Drunk driving occurs more often during this time, especially on weekends.
  • Ensure that all children wear a properly fitted helmet when riding on a bicycle or motorbike.
  • Wear white or bright colours or reflective clothing when walking or cycling near traffic to improve your visibility to road users.
  • Teach all children to stop, look and listen before crossing a road, and to think about the safest place to cross.
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Improved living standards, better healthcare, and greater awareness of the importance of a healthy diet and regular exercise have led to more and more people enjoying life into their 80s and 90s. However, older people are one of the most vulnerable groups when it comes to injuries, particularly in and around the home.

Falls are a leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries among older adults. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents , the most serious injuries involving older people usually happen on the stairs or in the kitchen.

The good news is that injuries related to falls are highly preventable. By drawing the attention of older people and their carers to danger spots and unsafe habits, the risk of injury can be reduced. Follow these fall prevention strategies to reduce the likelihood of an injury:

  • Wear sensible shoes: Buy properly fitting, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles. High heels, floppy slippers and shoes with slick soles can make you slip, stumble and fall.
  • Fall-proof your home: Remove electrical cords from walkways, secure loose rugs with double-sided tape and use non-slip mats in your bathroom. Ensure stairs are carefully maintained - damaged or worn carpet should be repaired or removed. Also, keep your home brightly lit to avoid tripping over items that are hard to see.
  • Speak with your doctor: Talk to your doctor about a fall-prevention plan that considers your current medication, health conditions and previous falls.
  • Have your medication reviewed: Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines, both prescription and over the counter, to identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Keep physically active: Choose exercises that focus on improving leg strength, balance and coordination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies tai chi as being particularly beneficial in reducing the risk of falls.
  • Use assisted devices: Assisted devices include canes or walkers, as well as hand rails for stairways and grab bars for the inside and outside of the tub or shower.
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