Injury and its impact can extend past bruises and bandages, leaving children and families with intrusive thoughts, exaggerated startle response, and avoiding things that remind them of the injury. These symptoms, known as post-traumatic stress (PTS) reactions, usually diminish with time, but for approximately 1 in 6 injured children, they persist and are more severe.
As pediatric health practitioners, recognizing and addressing PTS reactions in injured children and their families plays a crucial role in minimizing any lasting symptoms that could disrupt a full recovery. Be sure to think “D-E-F” when seeing an injured child after first taking care of the basics (the “ABCs”) of physical health. Address “D” (distress – pain, fear, worries), promote “E” (emotional support for the child), and remember “F” (family responses) at follow-up appointments. Ask how everyone is doing. Is anyone feeling edgy or over-vigilant? Having difficulty sleeping?
How do you engage your patients to discuss any psychological distress they may be experiencing post-injury?