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The beginning of injury science
  1. Flaura Koplin Winston
  1. Director of TraumaLink
 Interdisciplinary Pediatric Injury Control
 Research Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania
 34th Street and Civic Center Boulevard 2426
 Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA

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    “Injuries are not accidents”. This simple statement has become the mantra of injury control professionals. When did the realization begin that crashes and their resultant injuries were not inevitable but rather were predictable and, therefore, preventable events? In 1919, Hugh De Haven ruptured his liver, pancreas, and gall bladder in an airplane crash as a cadet in the Royal Flying Corps. During his convalescence, he began to question the inevitability of injury as a result of aviation crashes. Thus dawned the field of crash investigation and injury science. When he began presenting the findings of his research, he encountered the resistance and inertia that many of us still experience today: his commanding officer preferred to attribute escapes from injury to the “Jesus factor” and pathology to the “luck of the game”. But Hugh De Haven persisted and his commitment to applying a scientific approach to injury led to the acceptance of safety belts as protective devices. “Mechanical analysis of survival in falls from heights of fifty to one hundred and fifty feet” provides one of the earliest examples of injury science. The results of this research continue to be relevant today.

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