Navigation Links
Increasing clarity for medics in suspected physical abuse cases

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 force necessary to create a fracture and where the fracture would occur with as much as 90 per cent accuracy. "We've proven that we can adapt the modelling process to match different bones," says Emerson. "To date we've only had a limited number of test scenarios and test samples. With further refinement and more expansive testing, we believe our results will show an even higher level of accuracy."

The next stage of the work is to gather more data to develop the technique and increase its accuracy. Additionally, the researchers need to conduct experiments on bones from younger animals, to assess the effects of age.

"There has been extensive research in locating fracture sites in adult human bones, but limited attempts to determine what causes those fractures," says Emerson. "We want to gain a much clearer understanding of fracture patterns in young bones and apply this to scan data from children. We hope this will provide more certainty in cases where a clinician suspects a child hasn't sustained his or her injuries in the way the carer says."

For medics, this support is vital. "It's sometimes very difficult to determine how an injury has been caused, even for extremely experienced clinicians," says Dr Offiah. "Obviously we don't want to remove a child from a loving, nurturing home, but equally, no-one wants a child to return to a situation where they are being physically abused.

"The most important impact of this research will be to improve the confidence in judgements made when abuse is suspected and ultimately to improve the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable children."

The research project has been funded by The Children's Hospital Charity, who support and enhance the services of Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust, including 250,000 of research each year into the prevention and cure of childhood illnesses. The charity also funded the country's first paediatric Clinical Research Facility which opened at the hospital in 2008.


Contact: Clare Elsley
University of Sheffield

Related biology news :

1. Surprising pine beetle breeding habits help explain increasing tree damage, says CU study
2. Climate change, increasing temperatures alter bird migration patterns
3. Potatoes lower blood pressure in people with obesity and hypertension without increasing weight
4. Gene identified in increasing pancreatic cancer risk
5. Study finds increasing atmospheric concentrations of new flame retardants
6. Insecticides an increasing problem in future for streams in Europe
7. Novel method for increasing antibiotic yields
8. Endangered gourmet sea snail could be doomed by increasing ocean acidity
9. Sewage-derived nitrogen increasingly polluting Caribbean ecosystems
10. Democrats and Republicans increasingly divided over global warming
11. Leatherback sea turtle nests increasing in Florida
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015   MedNet Solutions ... the entire spectrum of clinical research, is pleased to ... High Tech Association (MHTA) as one of only three ... the "Software – Small and Growing" category. The Tekne Awards ... who have shown superior technology innovation and leadership. ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... ANN ARBOR, Mich. , Oct. 29, 2015 ... with Eurofins Genomics for U.S. distribution of its ... DNA-seq kit and Rubicon,s new ThruPLEX Plasma-seq ... DNA to enable the preparation of NGS libraries ... in plasma for diagnostic and prognostic applications in ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... YORK , Oct. 29, 2015 ... technology, announced a partnership with 2XU, a global ... to deliver a smart hat with advanced bio-sensing ... and other athletes to monitor key biometrics to ... the strategic partnership, the two companies will bring together ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... MUMBAI , November 26, 2015 ... --> Accutest Research ... accredited Contract Research Organization (CRO), has ... Chase Cancer Center - Temple Health ... ,     (Photo: ) ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Studies reveal the differences in species of ... way for more effective treatment for one of the most ... --> --> Gum disease is ... yet relatively little was understood about the bacteria associated with ... by researchers from the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition together ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... SAN DIEGO , Nov. 25, 2015 ... that management will participate in a fireside chat discussion ... New York . The discussion is ... Time. .  A replay will ... Contact:  Media Contact:McDavid Stilwell  , Julie NormartVP, Corporate ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... SUNNYVALE, Calif. , Nov. 24, 2015 ... executives will be speaking at the following conference, and ... New York, NY      Tuesday, December 1, ... New York, NY      Tuesday, December 1, ...      Piper Jaffray Healthcare Conference, New York, NY ...
Breaking Biology Technology: