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(also external injuries; in Russian, travmatizm), the totality of external injuries, or traumas, in a given population over a given time. The rate of such injuries is an important indicator of the effect of social conditions on public health.
Changing conditions are reflected in the new categories of accidents recorded. In the 20th century, accidents have taken third place, after cancer and cardiovascular diseases, as a cause of death in the economically developed countries. The principal victims of accidents are children, adolescents, and young adults. Among 15- to 30-year-old males, accidents are the principal cause of illness, disability, and death. In the classification of injuries by type of accident, industrial (including agricultural) accidents are distinguished from nonindustrial ones (including motor vehicle, home, and sports accidents).
The growing rate of industrial accidents in most countries is related to the growth of heavy industry. The adoption of preventive measures in this area depends on various social and technological factors. In the USSR and the other socialist countries, plans and legislative measures for the prevention of industrial accidents are jointly implemented by the administrative bodies of enterprises, labor unions, and medical establishments.
The increase in nonindustrial accidents in the second half of the 20th century is due primarily to the rapidly growing rate of motor vehicle accidents, with their high incidence of crippling and fatal injuries. The growing rate of home accidents, particularly among children, is a consequence of urbanization and the common use of mechanical and electrical home appliances. Improved safety engineering and public health education can prevent such nonoccupational accidents. The prevention of accidents among children and adolescents is more difficult because of the level of physical activity and states of mind that are characteristic of these age groups. Preventive measures for this population are based on regular organized leisure-time activities; instruction in traffic safety rules must be included. Injuries resulting from athletic accidents have become more numerous with increased participation in sports and more intensive training; such accidents may be prevented by using scientific findings and by providing for medical inspection in the arrangement of training and competitive events.
In a significant number of cases, accidents are caused by impaired motor coordination and delayed reaction to external stimuli due to fatigue, illness, or drunkenness.
REFERENCESLoginova, E. A. Ocherki po istorii bor’by s travmatizmom v SSSR. Moscow, 1958.
Nazarenko, I. T. Proizvodstvennyi travmatizm i zhiznennyi uroven trudiashchikhsia SShA. Moscow, 1961.
Freidlin, S. Ia. Profilaktika travmatizma i organizatsiia travmatologicheskoipomoshchi, 2nd ed. Leningrad, 1963.
Dubrov, la. G. Posobiepo travmalologii. Moscow, 1973.
V. IU. GOLIAKHOVSKII