ABOUT THE ICRC
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the UAB Injury Control Research Center (ICRC)?
- What is the Center's primary focus and what are the Center's target populations?
- What is the definition of an injury?
- Aren't most injuries simply the result of "accidents"?
- Just how big is the injury problem?
- Why has the rate of injury not been substantially reduced in the past?
- What practical benefits have resulted from ICRC projects?
- In what way can the UAB ICRC serve me and my community?
- How can I or a family member participate in one of your research projects?
The University of Alabama Injury Control Research Center was formed in 1988 to research injury to humans. It is located in the UAB School of Medicine, and is one of 11 nationally recognized Injury Centers which receive funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. A broad, scientifically based unit, UAB ICRC brings together faculty from many disciplines in the university to conduct interdisciplinary research, training, and public service projects addressing the three phases of injury control: prevention, acute care, and rehabilitation.
In 2004, ICRC realigned its research priorities to focus specifically on Injury Over the Life Course, an array of projects that research injury situations and the impacts of injury on humans from birth to old age. Target populations include children, women, the elderly, motor vehicle operators and passengers, residents of rural communities, and African-Americans, especially inner city youth.
An injury is damage to the body that results from acute or chronic exposure to thermal, mechanical, electrical, or chemical energy; exposure to radiation; or the absence of essentials such as heat or oxygen. This damage can result from events that are either unintentional or intentional, including motor vehicle crashes, falls, poisoning, drowning, suffocation, burns, domestic violence, homicide, or suicide.
Although injuries have traditionally been regarded as accidents, injuries, like diseases, do not occur randomly. The majority of injury-related events are predictable and preventable. Thus, the term "accident" is inaccurate, from a scientific standpoint, although the injury episode may seem random to the one who is injured.
It is difficult to overstate the significance of the injury problem, as these statistics indicate:
- Injuries are the leading cause of death for people under 44 years of age.
- Each year in the U.S., an estimated 150,000 people die as a result of injuries. In Alabama alone, injuries kill more than 3,000 people a year, the equivalent of one death every three hours.
- Approximately 39 million people require medical care for injuries each year.
- Although the greatest cost of injury is in human suffering, the financial cost of unintentional injuries in 2002 alone was nearly $586 billion. Furthermore, injuries cause almost 5 million years of potential life lost each year, exceeding years lost to cancer and heart disease.
Research on injury prevention and control receives less than two cents out of every federal dollar spent on health-related research. The fact that injury patterns are predictable on a group level, and thus useful to research with a goal of prevention, is a relatively new understanding in the medical community. Therefore, injury prevention and control does not have the longer history of other areas of medical research. Another reason -- one that the UAB ICRC working to change -- is that trained manpower in injury prevention has been inadequate in the past. With more scientists trained in injury prevention research, progress will likely be more rapid.
Some of the very practical benefits emerging from ICRC-sponsored research include:
- Dramatic changes in acute management protocols for TBI - Research led to improvements in rehabilitation service outreach and referral for TBI or SCI. These in turn significantly reduced the average time between injury and referral to a vocational rehabilitation agency, an important factor in increasing the likelihood of regaining functionality after injury.
- Development of a specific violence intervention among rural minority youths – One difficulty in the criminal justice field is developing programs that actually reduce violence and increase the chances at-risk youth will develop into law-abiding adults. Since violence results in injury, ICRC researchers looked for ways to reduce violence. They developed a program that significantly reduces the incidence of violence and the frequency of school dropouts while significantly increasing scholastic aptitude. This is an example of how injury research has an impact in other fields.
- An important clinical finding that intrathecal baclofen effectively reduces spastic hypertonia associated with brain injury. This has markedly influenced TBI management protocols (a protocol is a plan for treatment/action).
- The finding that screening TBI patients for deep venous thrombosis at admission to inpatient rehabilitation is more cost-effective than mass screening programs for breast or colorectal cancer.
- The development of a biodegradable adhesive that serves as a scaffold (support) for tissue growth and stimulates burn healing.
- The development of a blood test to assess patients with traumatic knee injuries to measure the stage of recovery and to identify patients at increased risk of post-traumatic arthritis.
- Findings showing that upper extremity constraint-induced therapy (CIT) after TBI is an effective intervention in treating upper extremity disuse secondary to TBI.
- An SCI study provided skills to caregivers. It was so successful that ICRC is expanding its concept in this current funding cycle to TBI caregivers. Both research projects in this area have the potential to improve quality of life and to reduce treatment costs.
- The ICRC pressure sore (decubitus ulcer) wound healing project resulted in a successful method to speed healing and has the potential to reduce medical costs and improve the quality of life of bed-ridden patients.
- Our biomechanics research focuses on motor vehicle crashes, specifically on how to make vehicles, restraint systems and helmets safer, given the complexities of the human body and the innumerable crash parameters operators and or passengers may encounter. These exciting studies have the potential to greatly reduce death and disability rates of crash victims.
UAB ICRC faculty and staff provide technical assistance to communities conducting primary prevention programs, disseminate information in support of a wide variety of injury control initiatives, and promote explicit injury control initiatives targeting high-risk populations. Thus, the UAB ICRC can be viewed as a community resource for obtaining injury-related information and providing community-based interventions.
When a researcher decides to investigate a particular characteristic, problem or type of event, all the people who have that characteristic, have that problem or went through that event are the “population” from which he or she would choose his or her research subjects, or the people to be observed during the study. Each research scientist describes his or her study’s population in a formal written description of their project known as the ‘protocol’, and the subjects are chosen following that guideline. Therefore, researchers are usually looking for very specific people. On occasion, the scientists may seek volunteers to serve as ‘control subjects’, or people from the population as a whole who do not have those same characteristics who can be observed for comparison purposes. If you wish to be considered for participation as a control subject please write a letter to the director and be sure to include a telephone number, mailing address and/or email address so you can be contacted if an opportunity for your possible participation arises.
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March 7th-Don't be scared, be prepared: Make HELMETS part of your Tornado Safety Plan- Ms. Renee Crook and Mr. Matt Seals