Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Editor's comment

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

The Classic by de Haven is more important than readers may realize. That is why I asked Flaura Winston, whose background in engineering and medicine is so unusual, to introduce it. Together with my gentle encouragement, I hope readers will fully appreciate de Haven's remarkable contribution. Three aspects of his paper are compelling. First, it is based on simple observations and thus serves as a wonderful example of how important these can be. Beginning with this small series of case studies, by applying the inductive approach, de Haven formulated a general theory of prevention. In essence that theory says that the basic laws of physics operate as well in human injury as in other domains. Second, the application of these laws about how force is distributed or absorbed to reduce damage, later elaborated on by Haddon and others, is the basis for most of the most effective injury prevention measures so popular today (harnesses, seat belts, helmets, playground surfaces, etc). Third, de Haven's work was, indeed, the birth of a science. Having laid a solid empirical and theoretical foundation, the next concrete steps were taken by Colonel Stapp (whose death is noted elsewhere in this issue). Stapp began testing the force distribution theories by dynamic sled testing. We will publish some of his findings in a later Classic. The bottom line is: Hugh de Haven was a genuine pioneer and this paper includes many messages that are important to anyone working in injury prevention today. In a later paper, de Haven wrote: “... people knew more about protecting eggs in transit than they did about protecting human heads” and with respect to this issue's Classic, he added: “They [the cases] did more to support my theories about crash injuries and crash survival than all the words in the dictionary. Read and enjoy.

Linked Articles

  • Editorial
    I B Pless