You accidentally cut yourself while cooking dinner. Or perhaps you sprain an ankle while going for a run in the woods. How many times have you unintentionally injured yourself doing day-to-day activities? What does it cost you? A day off from work here or there? Maybe more? One West Virginia University professor is exploring how injuries, from the smallest cut to a debilitating fall, can affect our lives.

Maria Brann, Ph.D., associate professor of communication studies and affiliate faculty with the Injury Control Research Center at WVU, is collaborating with the center to create the state’s first centralized report that will outline West Virginians’ most common injuries.

“We are compiling all of the data available to us to see what injuries are affecting West Virginia residents on a day-to-day basis,” Brann said.

“Although we’re including all types of injuries in our report from unintentional falls to intentional injuries like homicide, we also want to include aspects that are specific to our state. For example, it may be important to include ATV crashes or animal attacks. The injuries that occur in our state more predominately must be included for effective change.”

The WV Bureau for Public Health requested the report to help state health departments investigate injury occurrences, and better educate residents of existing dangers.

Injuries are the leading cause of death for people under 40 years old. West Virginia hospitals use different databases and codes to record injuries, but there is no centralized system to monitor the most common injuries.

The WV Bureau for Public Health and the Department of Health and Human Resources awarded the research center a grant for $104,689 to complete the project, which will cover access fees to injury data that is not free to the public. It also will be used to decode the different databases that hospitals use throughout the state to categorize injuries and to compile a state cost analysis for treatment.

“We want to know how much it can cost the state in loss of productivity or in worker’s compensation,” she said.

Also, discovering the monetary and stress effects that these injuries place upon a family is very important. What happens to those who depend on the injured family member’s income or those who cannot afford treatment?

The report will be completed by December. Once the report is reviewed, the information will be distributed to health departments around the state.

“Overall, the project is designed to illustrate the health and economic burden that injury imposes on the people of West Virginia,” Brann said. “Many of these injuries are preventable. It is our hope that individuals in the state will recognize this burden and use the report as support for developing various prevention programs and safety policies.”

For more information, contact Maria Brann at



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