Building Our Future by Bob Gfeller

panel2I’ve now been in my position for 120 days, and the team and I spent a lot of time looking at what we do well, what we need to do better, and clarifying how we will build our future.

In the six years since the Institute started in 2008, the death rate for injured children has been reduced from 12,400 to the 9,500 per year in the U.S. Many organizations are focused on improving those numbers. The Institute wants to work on topics that have societal impact over the long haul, so we need to clarify our message so that our audience understands what we do.

Part of that is clarifying our mission. Our new mission is to discover and share the best ways to prevent and treat severe injuries in children. We’re going to focus on identifying and sharing best practices, particularly from the best pediatric trauma centers to the ones in need. We are going to work more in the area of prevention in addition to treatment and care after an injury.

Our three overarching strategies will now be funding research, education and advocacy, with measurable outcomes for each. From an advocacy standpoint we have to ignite the discussion of pediatric trauma at the local, state and federal government levels, because we need funding help from the government. Additionally, we are going to redesign our private fundraising initiatives to insure that we can raise at least $5,000,000 over the next five years.

With those three strategies we are going to focus our work in two areas:

1. Raising the level of pediatric trauma care nationwide

If your child is cared for at a Level I pediatric trauma center after a severe injury, they have a 25% better chance of surviving than if they’re not. The bottom line is certain communities are better prepared to address a severely injured child when they show up at their hospital doorstep than others. We have an opportunity to help those in need get better prepared.

We’ve preliminarily mapped the U.S. and identified a number of states like Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Utah, and Georgia, whose pediatric trauma readiness clearly lags states like North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio, and New York, particularly as it relates to having a Level I or Level II pediatric trauma center in their state.

  • Pediatric Trauma Summit 2015

We are planning another pediatric trauma summit for 2015, which will resume the work laid out at the 2013 summit. The next summit will move theoretical ideas to more concrete action plans behind two specific aims: 1) extend pediatric trauma care to rural communities through innovative ways, and 2) create a toolkit to share best practices, tools, and techniques from well-established Level 1 pediatric trauma centers to others.

2. Prevention and treatment in youth sports and recreation

  • Youth Sports

You’ve heard a lot about injury in sports, mainly from all the news about traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and concussions (mTBI) in football. We have funded the ongoing iTAKL youth football study for three seasons now. We need to focus on youth, 14 and under, because there is very little work being done for that age group. We plan to go beyond football to learn more about sports injuries for boys, particularly hockey, and we need to research soccer, basketball, lacrosse, cheerleading and other injury-prone sports for girls.

  • Youth recreation

Additionally, we need to discover ways to improve safety and treatment for recreational injuries to children, especially regarding ATV safety in the U.S. There are millions of ATVs on the road and there are millions of kids riding ATVs improperly, even though all states have laws regulating children riding ATVs. The problem is that they’re riding without supervision, without helmets. They’re riding on and driving equipment that’s too powerful for their age, and they’re falling.

Twenty-one percent of injuries amongst children on ATVs are multi-causal – head, bone, internal injuries. Nationwide, the research says that while children are only 20% of the riders on ATVs, they are 50% of those injured on ATVs. The most astounding fact is that 90% of kids riding ATVs don’t wear helmets. We will leverage our relationships and Richard Childress‘ passion for the outdoors to help address this issue.

We will keep you posted on our progress through our newsletters as each initiative evolves. As always, we welcome your input and support.

Stay inspired!

Bob Gfeller, Executive Director

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