The Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation

Posted December 1, 2001

The Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (the “Foundation”) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention, rehabilitation and treatment of spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. Through its research grant program, the Foundation supports knowledge creation, knowledge transfer and skill building, in an effort to reduce the incidence, prevalence and impact of spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries.

One of the many Foundation grant recipients is a research study authored in part by Dr. Andrew Howard of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Dr. Howard’s research study is focused on injury prevention for children travelling in automobiles.

Unfortunately, children have not benefited from advances in automobile safety to the same extent as adults. This is due in part to the misuse of safety devices including air bags and child seating restraints. The main objective of Dr. Howard’s study is to measure the association between the correct use of child restraints and the severity of injuries suffered by children in automobile crashes. The study also hopes to provide a better understanding of the biomechanics of injuries suffered by children in automobile crashes.

The study is a 3-year, two-center study with the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and the Childrens’ Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa. The study will include 90 children (primarily newborn to age 8) who are admitted to the trauma unit with injuries sustained in automobile crashes. Transport Canada is a vital participant in the study and provides information through its collision investigation teams who examine accident scenes, vehicles and child restraint systems.

Largely, children who ride in automobiles in Canada are restrained. However, there is a great burden on the caregiver to ensure that child restraints are used properly. The proper use of child restraints is difficult because children are growing and changing size; there are many dangers inside cars (i.e. airbags); the child must be properly held to the restraint; and the restraint must be properly held to the car. The correct use of a child restraint is not an easy task.

In order to optimize the protection of children traveling in automobiles, we need a better understanding of what can be done. Dr. Howard’s study aims to come up with recommendations regarding what is causing injuries to children in automobile crashes. In turn, this information could be used to better protect our children.

A logical next step of the study is to develop software technology for simulating the automobile crashes currently being studied; thereby providing a place to study hypothesis of automobile crashes.

In the long term – information regarding how children are injured in automobile crashes could be used to assist child restraint manufacturers to produce a product that cannot be used incorrectly.

For more information about the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation or the Crash Protection study, contact their websites at or

For more information regarding childrens car seats and restraint systems, we suggest that you visit

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