What is an Injury? Definition of Injury, Causes, and Most Common Types
What is the definition of injury?
The definition of Injury, as defined by most medical dictionaries, are damages to a person’s body caused by external forces. These external forces can vary from falls, hits, accidents, weapons, as well as other causes. Serious injuries can provide major trauma to a person’s body that can cause prolonged disability and even death.
Recent Statistics for Instances of Injury
The recent statistics for injury-related deaths in America alone in 2013, has numbered 4.8 million. In 1990, this number was closer to 4.3 million deaths caused by injury.
The majority of these injuries, more than 30% are transport or vehicular related. And in 2013 alone, about 367,00 or so children died from injuries, and the majority of these children are aged 5 years old and below.
Injuries, when compared with the leading causes of deaths, make up about 9% of all deaths in America, and is the sixth-leading cause of death in the world.
Types of Injury
There are actually very many types of injuries out there, as most bodily harm caused by any and all external forces can be classified as an injury. There are as many definitions of injury out there as there is the number of forces that can harm your body.
Most of the time, the definition of injury is classified by what external force has caused them. Other times, they are classified by where they have occurred in your body. Some of the most common types of injury include:
- Abrasion Injuries – an injury caused when the skin comes in direct contact and causes friction between one rough or rugged surface.
- Brain Injuries – head trauma, injury to the head that affects the brain
- Bruising – occurs when there is a blunt and forceful abrupt contact with an object to any part of your body. Characterized by a bluish black discoloration of the skin caused by blood spreading underneath the skin.
- Burns - categorized into first, second and third degree burns, depending on the severity of the injury caused by a flame or hot surface on the skin.
- Concussions or Head Injuries – most common type of head injury, leading to the loss of brain function.
- Construction-related injuries – injuries that construction workers experience on a daily basis
- Dislocation related injuries - when a joint, or a place where two bones meet is knocked out of place by an external force
- Fractures or Bone Injuries – common Medical Terms for Injuries that involve broken bones caused by a strong, forceful external factor.
- Herniated Disc Injuries – when a disc in your spinal column slips out of its place, and worse, bulge or break.
- Lacerations – also known as cuts, but much deeper, and look like torn ragged wounds
- Pinched Nerves – too much pressure being applied to a single nerve by surrounding tissues, most commonly bones, and the soft tissues surrounding the bones.
- Sciatica or damage to the sciatic nerve - a nerve that runs from the spinal cord to a person’s buttocks or hips.
- Spinal Cord related injuries - injury to any part of your spinal cord that commonly results in permanent disability and loss of movement
- Tendons and Ligaments related injuries - the name speaks for itself, this definition of injury occurs to the tendons and ligaments.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries - the definition of injury is congenital brain injuries or injuries present at birth.
- Whiplash - or the sudden impact that causes the neck to move in an abnormal way
World Health Organization Classification of Injuries
The WHO or World Health Organization has also developed an ICECI or International Classification of External Causes of Injury. In this system, the definition of injury is most often classified by:
- The mechanism of the injury
- The objects or substances involved in producing the injury
- The place where the injury has occurred
- The activity is one when the injury occurred
- And the role of human intent in the injury.
What are the Most Common Causes of Injury?
Although the most common definition of injury’s causes is the external force exerted on a person’s body that can cause damage to it, there are still various sources and causes of injury that can occur:
In sports injuries, these are the most common causes, but they can also be applied to almost all injuries:
- Poor training methods/ lack of previous experience in the activity
- Bodily structure abnormalities
- Weak muscles, as well weakness in the tissues that surround them like tendons, ligaments.
- Unsafe environments- such as slippery or uneven surfaces, sloping surfaces that can cause injuries
Sometimes the most common causes of injuries are:
- Accidents – unprecedented or unanticipated freak accidents that can cause minor to severe injuries
- Improper use of equipment- such as in the case of construction or workplace related injuries
Serious Injury: What is Serious Injury, Symptoms of Injury
What is the medical and legal definition of serious injury?
What is a serious injury? A serious injury is defined as an injury or illness that requires the person to have:
- immediate treatment at a hospital, preferably as an in-patient
- the requirement of medical treatment after exposure to a substance
- or immediate treatment for any of the following conditions:
- Serious head injuries
- Serious burns to the body
- Spinal cord-related injuries
- Serious and Major Lacerations to the body
- Amputation of any part of a person’s body
- Serious eye injury
- Separation of the skin from the body, examples are degloving or scalping
- Loss of major bodily function
The legal definition of an injury that requires it to be defined as a serious bodily injury states that:
“The bodily injury most involve a substantial risk of death, extreme physical pain, unconsciousness or risk of coma, obvious bodily disfigurement, amputation, or projected loss or impairment of any bodily functions, organs, or mental faculty.”
The serious bodily injury is legally defined as more than a minor or superficial injury.
How do you differentiate a minor injury from a serious injury?
Sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate minor injury from serious injury. There are medical procedures or score systems to assess the severity of an injury if it is only a minor or a more serious injury.
The Injury Severity Score or ISS is one such medical score system, and it is correlated with the injury’s supposed mortality, morbidity, and hospitalization after the injury has occurred. A serious injury in the injury severity score is defined as an injury with a score of more than 15 on the scale.
To calculate the ISS of a person to determine if the injury is serious or not, the body is divided into six regions. These regions are namely:
- The head or neck- this also includes the cervical spine or the area in your neck where the spine is connected
- Face- this includes the skeleton or skull in our face, the nose, mouth, eyes, and ears
- Chest- our torso, that also includes the thoracic spine or the middle part of our spinal cord and the diaphragm.
- Abdomen or pelvic contents- includes the lumbar spine or the lower back portion of our spine, and the abdominal organs included
- Extremities of the body and the pelvic skeleton
And these body parts are then scored from 1-6, with each of the six values corresponding to the severity of the scale of the injury, specifically:
- Maximal (which is defined as already untreatable)
To then calculate the Injury severity score, you should take the highest severity score of the three most severely injured regions of the body, square the severity score(from 1-6), and add the three squared numbers. For example:
(ISS = A2 + B2 + C2)
where A, B, C are the severity scores of the three most injured body regions
If one of the values in any of the bodily regions are already 6, or maximal injury and is currently untreatable, then the injury is already defined as a serious injury.
What are some of the most common symptoms associated with injuries?
The symptoms that manifest in the body whenever an injury occurs can largely vary depending on where the injury has occurred. Injuries that are in different body parts will show different symptoms such as:
- Pain in the affected area - pain is the most common symptom of injuries and is the symptom that is immediately felt right after experiencing an injury
- Tenderness and Inflammation - the area might then immediately become tender after some of the pain has subsided, which is a sign that the injury is swelling.
- Bruises - bruises will occur not immediately after the injury but will occur in the later stages, and is characterized by a blue-black spot where the injury has occurred.
For Sports injuries, these are the most common symptoms-
- Shin Splints - Shin splints are characterized by pain in the shin and can be felt while standing, walking or running. The pain felt in most shin splints will most often radiate to the knees. This injury is most common in running.
- Lumbar Strain - lumbar strains are lower back pain felt in the lumbar areas of your spine (lower areas). This injury is common in weightlifters who put extensive stress on their back but can also occur in golf and baseball, where the sport involves sudden twisting of the back.
- Achilles tendinitis - Running or jumping sports can injure your Achilles tendon, and is characterized by tenderness in the area surrounding your Achilles heel.
The Treatment of Injury and Injury Prevention
How are injuries most often treated?
When an injury happens, what most likely occurs is that the condition is treated immediately, most often with the use of first aid treatment. It is important in the case of most injuries for the injury to be treated immediately on the spot of the accident, so as to prevent any further damage and temporarily mitigate the situation before it gets forwarded to a medical professional.
When applying first aid treatment to an injury, there is a set of self-care techniques that are commonly applied as far as first aid treatment is concerned. This set of self-care techniques is abbreviated as PRICE. PRICE Therapy stands for:
- Protection - Protection should always be first on your list when applying first aid treatment to an injury. This is to prevent further damage to the affected area by protecting it. A concrete example of protection in an injury would be to put extra support on an injury so as to not induce extra movement and not aggravate the injury further.
- Rest - Rest and it's a simple step to follow. Rest simply involves resting the body or the affected area from any further activity so as to not aggravate the injury further. Rest also means to rest your body or affected areas from doing the activity that induced the injury in the first place.
- Ice - This means the application of ice or cold compress to the affected area. Constant application of cold on the injured area should be observed for the first 48-72 hours from the point of the injury, and to apply it to the area for 15-20 minutes at a time, with the frequency of every 2-3 hours. When applying ice to the injured area make sure to apply it to the use of a damp cloth.
- Compression - Compression of an injury involves compressing the affected area, most often with the use of a bandage. Compression involves stopping the bleeding, such as in the case of tourniquets, and also prevents further swelling and movement that can damage the area further. A good reminder when compressing an injured area is to wrap the affected area snugly but not too tightly.
- Elevate - To elevation. This simply means elevating the affected area above the level of your heart, especially when resting. This avoids too much blood from circulating to the affected area, thereby effectively reducing the area’s swelling. This can be done by placing a few pillows where the affected area is going to be laid down.
What is Injury Prevention? And what are the measures I can take to Prevent Injury?
Injury prevention is defined as an effort to prevent and reduce the severity of injuries. It is also an effort to introduce safety measures in place of previous measures that have been shown to induce injuries. Injury prevention is an important part of public safety and health and is aimed at reducing the overall mortality introduced by injuries and to improve the overall quality of life.
These are some of the injury prevention measures in place in today’s society that can help prevent injuries from happening:
- Vehicular and traffic Injury prevention - there is an emphasis in today’s society to make sure there is safety in vehicles and traffic as this is one of the leading causes of death in young adults and children. Engineering changes are implemented in cars to prevent injury related to automobile accidents. Some of these engineering changes in cars include seat belts, airbags, and locking belts for children’s seats. There are also enforcement and educational measures used to prevent injuries such as seat belt laws, speed limits, proper traffic law enforcement, seat belt education and proper driving education.
- Occupational health injury prevention - there is also occupational health safety that deals with the prevention of workplace hazards. This injury prevention in occupational sites include professions in the construction field, in the agriculture sector, in the mining, oil, and gas extraction industry and much more.
- Sports Injury Prevention - there are many ways for a person to prevent injury in sports, some of these are:
- Use of proper equipment - one must use the prescribed outfit and safety gear for any sport such as proper fitting shoes, helmets, face masks, protective padding in the elbows, knees, and torso.
- Use of proper technique - an improper technique in any sport is sure of the way of injuring yourself
- Warming up and cooling down- Do proper stretching before and after engaging in any sport, as this can help the muscle become more injury resistant and overall stronger.