Understanding Mechanisms of Traumatic Injuries


In order to successfully defend themselves against allegations of inflicting traumatic injury on their children, parents need a basic understanding of mechanisms of traumatic injuries. This article helps falsely accused parents understand more about traumatic injury and how to fight back against such charges.

What is Traumatic Injury?

In the medical community, “traumatic injury” refers to sudden, severe physical damage. As generally understood, these injuries should receive immediate medical attention, and they can result from a wide variety of blunt, penetrating, and burn mechanisms. According to the University of Florida Health, such injuries can include motor vehicle collisions, sports injuries, falls, natural disasters, and assorted other injuries. The injuries can take place at home, on the street, or at work.

What is a Mechanism of Injury (MOI)?

The Mechanism of Injury, otherwise known as MOI, refers to the method by which damage (trauma) to skin, muscles, organs, and bones occurs. As Verywellhealth explains here, there’s an old joke that says, “It’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the sudden stop at the end.” In MOI terms, the “sudden stop” is “sudden deceleration.”

Basic Understanding of the Laws of Motion

To properly understand the mechanism of injury (MOI), it’s helpful to understand relevant laws of motion. First is the law of inertia, which states that a body in motion will keep moving at the same velocity unless acted upon by an outside force. This law is more formally known as Newton’s First Law of Motion.

The energy of movement is known as kinetic energy. When the moving body is stopped, that kinetic energy must translate into an alternate form of energy such as compression, cavitation, or shearing forces. High velocity impacts kinetic energy far more than mass. Based upon the laws of motion, certain injury patterns will be expected depending upon the circumstances of the trauma.

A more detailed description is found in the following article: Dickinson M (2004) Understanding the mechanism of injury and kinetic forced involved in traumatic injuries. Emergency Nurse. 12, 6, October, 30-34. Below, we’ll review the information presented there.

Questions to Ask About Traumatic Injuries

If ambulance service personnel are involved, they are invaluable sources of information since they got to see the scene where the event took place. They will be better able to appreciate the MOI and the kinetic forces that patients were subjected to prior to treatment. Although they may not be able to fully answer the first two questions below, their perspective should be sought.

Here are questions that need to be addressed:

  1. What events led up to the accident or injury?
  2. What happened during the incident? (Understanding the direction, duration, and degree of energy that may have been transferred to the child can help understand why injuries present as they do.)
  3. Post-incident: What happened right after the accident or injury?

Different activities commonly result in different types of injuries. For instance, “Jumping or falling from a height is likely to result in calcaneal and other lower limb fractures depending on how the patient landed and what they landed on. If they landed on their feet, the energy transfer can progress up the leg causing hip injury, up the spine causing compression fractures, and to the skull causing a fractured base of skull. If the force of the fall is broken, the injury pattern can be different if injuries occur at all.” This difference may be attributed to deceleration forces counteracting the kinetic forces. Rebound injuries are associated with recoil following deceleration and typically result in other types of injuries.

Applying an understanding of traumatic injury to beating a false allegation of child abuse

As explained here, there are several ways to successfully defend oneself against an allegation of child abuse.

Due to the nature of traumatic injury, parents falsely accused of inflicting traumatic injury on a child will have ready access to physical evidence that will help them repudiate allegations or point to alternative scenarios.

For instance, if the child had an accident while in the care of the falsely accused parent, the nature of the injuries, as discussed above, will hopefully be able to exonerate the parent.

Parents, especially those who know they are dealing with vindictive ex-partners, must diligently document all instances that might cast them in a negative light. This includes noting the names of emergency personnel, nurses, and doctors, questioning them proactively while everything is fresh in their minds, and taking photographs and videos. Clear communication of the fact that the parent possesses such information and is prepared to use it may correct misunderstandings and deflect legal challenges.

It is possible that a parent will be accused of inflicting traumatic injury when somebody else—perhaps the accuser—is the responsible party. Again, meticulous records, including those from unconventional sources such as social media posts, will help derail those accusations. But the falsely accused parent must also attack the credibility of the accuser. Does the accuser have a motive to lie, or is he or she mistaken about the identity of the perpetrator?


Nobody wants a child to suffer a traumatic injury, and nobody wants to be wrongly accused of causing such an injury, either. Understanding Mechanisms of Injury (MOIs) in traumatic injuries can help parents deal with false accusations of child abuse stemming from such incidents.