Emotional trauma after a child’s injury

    In the aftermath of a child’s injury, parents often struggle with pain of their own. A new study from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia examines how parents cope psychologically after a child is injured.

    In the aftermath of a child’s injury, parents often struggle with pain of their own. A new study from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia examines how parents cope psychologically after a child is injured.

    Listen:

    [audio:100112msinjury.mp3]

    Doctors at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children’s Hospital found that one month after a child’s injury, 37 percent of parents experienced symptoms of traumatic stress including high levels of anxiety.

    Even after six months after the child’s injury, 15 percent of those parents had symptoms.

    Dr. Flaura Koplin Winston of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children’s Hospital co-authored the study.

    Winston: This is a very difficult time, to go through a child’s injury, it’s very scary, and to have some patience with yourself but to also understand that if your reactions are becoming severe they are getting in the way of normal recovery, they are getting in the way of your child’s recovery, or they go on for more than a month, it’s time to get some outside help.

    Dr. Linda Welsh is director of the Anxiety Treatment Center in Bala Cynwd. She says the whole family could be affected when symptoms of traumatic stress in parents are not treated:

    Welsh:
    Like sleeplessness, over-concern about the child’s welfare, and the problem is, this can then reinforce any anxieties that the child could be developing.

    Welsh says in an effort to move on, many families don’t talk about a child’s injury. But she says it’s helpful to discuss what happened and how different family members feel about the incident.

    As to who is more likely to develop these symptoms, experts at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia say the severity of a child’s injury and whether a parent was present did not affect the development of traumatic stress.

    The findings from this study and other research have been incorporated into a website which helps families navigate recovery from an injury.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.