Researchers at the University of Sheffield and The Children's Hospital, Sheffield, are developing techniques which will help clinicians more accurately identify whether injuries sustained by young children are as a result of accident or abuse.
Currently medical professionals base their decisions on their prior knowledge and experience. This can be subjective and the ramifications of making the wrong decision can be huge, for both child and parent.
Dr Amaka Offiah, Consultant at Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust, and senior lecturer at Sheffield University's Department of Human Metabolism along with a team of researchers from the Faculty of Engineering, are working together to create a system aimed at providing robust scientific evidence to support clinicians faced with having to assess how an injury may have been sustained.
"There needs to be a more scientific way of determining how an injury might have been caused," says Dr Offiah "Most physically abused children are too young to say how their injuries came about and we, as medics, are reliant on our own experience to make a decision about whether what the parent is saying is realistic or not."
This research is in its early stages and the multidisciplinary team, including engineers and medics, are currently working on creating computerised models which show how children's bones react to different forces. To do this, Dr Offiah, along with Dr Matt Carr and Nick Emerson, from the University's Department of Mechanical Engineering, have been examining the effects of different types of force on pig bones, which are regularly used as a substitute for human bones in laboratory testing.
"This was the first stage of the work," says Nick Emerson. "To see whether we could use readily available animal bone samples for our laboratory testing, and accurately recreate various fractures using predictive software."
The researchers found they were able to predict the forc
|Contact: Clare Elsley|
University of Sheffield