Childhood injuries account for more than 1000 hospital admissions in Australia each week. It is just one of the reasons why City Ford Rockdale supports the Day of Difference Foundation. Dealer principal and father of four, Jarrad Czapla, donated 100 Tara comfort toys to St George Hospital last week.

The donation was worth $5000 and will help fund the Paediatric Critical Injury Research Program. Lilly Snell, 8, of St George was among the young patients given a Tara dog. The youngster was in hospital with asthma and an injured foot.

Mr Czapla said it was important for the community to support programs aimed at reducing childhood injury.

ST GEORGE Hospital researchers are helping develop Australia’s first national targeted strategy for the prevention and management of childhood injuries. Injury is the nation’s leading cause of death in children, yet there is no national data about where and why injuries occur.

The Paediatric Critical Injury Research Program will, for the first time, describe the incidence of children’s injury in Australia and the affect injuries have on children and their families up to five years after an accident.

It was established by the Day of Difference Foundation two years ago in partnership with the University of Sydney’s School of Nurs-
ing. Day of Difference was established by the parents of accident survivor Sophie Delezio 11 years ago to prevent childhood injuries and support affected families.

St George Hospital clinical nurse consultant in trauma, Kate Curtis, and Rebecca Mitchell from Macquarie University are heading the research. For the past 12 months, their research team has been linking data about childhood injuries from the Ministry of Health databases for each state and territory, with the aim of developing best practice guidelines for injury prevention and paediatric trauma care. ‘‘It’s quite sad that even though injuries are the biggest killer in kids under the age of 15, even under the age 24, there is no monitoring of those injuries across the country, ’’Associate Professor Curtis said. ‘‘Kids are kids, and injuries will keep happening, but we have to make sure that when it does hap-
pen, our system works the best that it can work so they have the best possible long-term outcome.’’ Day of Difference chief executive Charles Dennis, of Blakehurst, said: ‘‘Right from the beginning, one of the hardest things I had to come to grips with is understanding the size of the problem. ‘‘It’s been a journey to try and improve outcomes but it’s been difficult to even get to first base with medical officials without having the evidence to say, ‘this is how big the problem is’,’’ Mr Dennis said.

Mr Dennis and Associate Professor Curtis hope the program will lead to the establishment of a national trauma register, which would help measure the success of the recommendations of the pro-
gram. ‘‘Every person deserves to have the same chance at survival and long term functional outcome no matter where you are injured, and at the moment there is variance in this country but we don’t know why,’’ Associate Professor Curtis said.

Miss Delezio sustained burns to 85 per cent of her body, lost both feet, some fingers and her right ear when a car crashed through the front of her daycare centre in 2003. In 2006, she sustained a brain injury, broken jaw and collarbone, two fractured vertebrae and punc- tured lungs when she was hit by a car while in her wheelchair.

Researchers from the universities of Sydney, NSW and Canberra are involved in the $1.65 million program which has received funding from Day of Difference ($644,226), National health Medical Research Council ($501,000) and NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation ($192,000).

By Deborah Field and The Leader