Newly published article by The BRAIN Center team: Pediatric patients can be significantly impacted emotionally by exposure to acute trauma which may negatively impact long-term functioning and lead to an increase in overall distress. This study reports on the incidence of acute stress disorder among pediatric trauma patients in a hospital setting in the southeastern region of the USA.
Since January 2021, the BRAIN Center at the University of Memphis has been providing free, trauma-informed mental and behavioral health services to all children (and their caregivers) treated at Le Bonheur for gunshot wounds, burns, injuries from motor vehicle accidents and other unintentional traumatic injuries.
So far, the results are significant. Of the 617 trauma patients ages 2-18 admitted to Le Bonheur in the first eight months of the program, 64% showed symptoms of acute stress disorder, and 100% of them accepted the mental health care services.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – Today we spoke to a mental health counselor at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, who said shootings or violence like what happened today can disrupt a child’s sense of security.
She talked about the changes in behavior parents should watch for.
“It is possible that children may have increased nightmares. They may appear on edge or jumpy. They may have flashbacks. It possible they may even act out aggressively. Loss in appetite. You may see some changes in their mood. So it is really important to look for changes in a child’s emotional and behavioral presentation,” Mental Health Counselor Dr. Kiersten Hawes said.
Dr. Kiersten Hawes also suggested both parents and students see a counselor to talk about today’s events.
With gun violence on the rise across the country, the trauma extends beyond those hit with bullets to entire neighborhoods suffering the sounds of gunshots, according to a crime prevention company executive.
“Just because someone doesn’t get hurt or killed by a bullet, just going to bed to the sound of gunfire, waking up to the sound of gunfire, assuming the risk of moving around a neighborhood that has being held captive by a few criminal serial shooters completely rewires the way, especially in young children, how their brain works,” ShotSpotter CEO Ralph Clark told ABC News Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Coping with trauma can be difficult at any age, but especially for children, and many families don’t have access to therapy and other mental health services. When kids are released from Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, trauma staff say they’re often leaving with hidden, mental wounds that come from surviving a life-changing experience like a shooting.
Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) can be even more debilitating to the child and the larger community in the months and years ahead. Without proper treatment and social support, acute trauma can lead to developmental trauma (a form of PTSD in children). That can lead to a wide range of long-term mental, physical and emotional problems that impact the entire community. Starting in January, all children treated at Le Bonheur’s Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center will be eligible for free mental health counseling services.