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 i
|Contact: Clare Elsley|
University of Sheffield