All you ever wanted to know about injuries!
Have you noticed how after you stub your toe (rather painfully!), you keep on stubbing the same toe (even more painfully!) over the next few days? It’s almost as if your body wants to keep punishing itself over and over again for having made that mistake in the first place and relives the injury.
Similarly, all injuries, big or small, have a habit of reminding you not to make the same mistake again. Of course, all injuries are not due to careless mistakes. They may result from accidents, or even illness. For instance, your blood pressure may drop severely and you could pass out and hit your head, resulting in concussion. As opposed to tripping over something (maybe your own foot!) and hitting the ground hard.
It’s one thing to suffer a minor injury, but unfortunately, we don’t always have a say in the severity of our injuries. Having to deal with a stubbed toe is obviously not as much of a nuisance as breaking a leg. And though it may be fun to have your friends autograph your cast, it is undoubtedly better not having to put up with the pain, expense and inconvenience of being laid up with a broken arm or leg.
One way or the other, its best to try and avoid injuring yourself. Of course, it may not always be possible but you could try being more careful in the way you move around, observe obstacles that are present in your environment, and avoid taking risks. We’re not suggesting you tip toe around all the time, but a little bit of caution can go a long way in keeping you safe from getting injured.
What can you consider an injury?
Injuries come in all shapes and sizes, and with varying degrees of pain and suffering. What you consider an injury may not always match a legal definition of injury – especially when insurance or legal action are considered.
Here is one definition of injury, according to Wikipedia:
*Injury, also known as physical trauma, is damage to the body caused by external force. This may be caused by accidents, falls, hits, weapons, and other causes. Major trauma is injury that has the potential to cause prolonged disability or death.
Since injuries can have a wide range of causes, the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a system of classifying injuries. Again, as per Wikipedia:
** The World Health Organization (WHO) developed the International Classification of External Causes of Injury(ICECI). Under this system, injuries are classified by:
- mechanism of injury;
- objects/substances producing injury;
- place of occurrence;
- activity when injured;
- the role of human intent;
and additional modules. These codes allow the identification of distributions of injuries in specific populations and case identification for more detailed research on causes and preventive efforts.
- part of body affected,
- source and secondary source, and
- event or exposure.
The OIICS was first published in 1992 and has been updated several times since.
The Orchard Sports Injury Classification System (OSICS) is used to classify injuries to enable research into specific sports injuries.
Are you injured or wounded?
Yes, there is a difference between being injured and being wounded. For example, you are wounded when your skin is cut, torn or punctured. The word ‘injury’ is more of a generic term i.e. a wound can be an injury, but an injury may not necessarily be a wound. To confuse you further – if you get stabbed with a sharp implement you will be considered wounded, but you would also be correct if you were to think that you were injured!
Injuries too can be sub-divided into two basic categories – acute and overuse. The acute type of injury is supposed to be caused by a single event which is traumatic, like an accident. While an overuse injury is associated more with sports, it is more subtle in nature than an acute injury and happens over a period of time. It is usually due to repetitive microtrauma to your joints, bones and tendons. Diagnosis and treatment of an overuse injury is also more difficult.
Acute injuries may include:
- Dislocated shoulder
- Ankle sprain
- Fractured wrist
- Strained hamstring muscle
- Dislocated collar bone
- Cracked ribs
- Bruises/blood clots
Overuse injuries may include:
- Achilles tendinitis
- Runners knee
- Swimmers shoulder
- Jumpers knee
- Shin splints
- Youth pitching elbow
- Tennis elbow
- Groin pulls
- Knee injury
Ways to prevent injuries
Let’s be very clear – you can’t always prevent injuries. Especially when they are due to accidents – after all, accidents are always unexpected and it’s not possible to be prepared for them. However, there are certain precautions you can take to try and avoid injuries, such as sports injuries or injuries that happen in your home or at work.
Prevent acute injuries indoors:
- Use non-skid/non-slip tiles, especially if there are seniors in the house
- Ensure carpets and rugs are properly fitted with no raised corners or bumps to trip over
- Furniture should be placed so as not to create obstacles
- Staircases and corridors should be lit well
- Electrical sockets which are not in use should be covered properly, especially if there are children in the house
- Keep smoke and fire alarms in working order
- Keep electrical appliances away from water sources such as kitchen and bathroom sinks
Prevent sports injuries by wearing:
- Mouth guards
- Shin pads
- Knee pads
- Elbow pads
These are just some basic tips about acute and overuse injuries. So much depends on the circumstances – the location, the environment, the time of day, the sport played, and so on. But there’s no harm in trying to minimize the risks by taking some basic precautions to avoid injury, to remain safe and in good health.