Identifying trauma risk in small children early after an accident

With the aid of a new test, children with an increased risk can already be identified in the space of a few days. The test devised by scientists from the University of Zurich and the University Children’s Hospital Zurich helps to treat traumatized small children at an early stage.

Accidents also traumatize small children. Around one in ten children still suffers from a post-traumatic stress disorder a year after a road accident or burn injury, reliving aspects of the traumatic experience in the form of flashbacks or nightmares. In doing so, young children keep replaying the stressful memories while avoiding anything that might remind them of the accident in any way. As a result of this constant alertness to threatening memories, the children can develop sleeping disorders, concentration problems or aggressive behavior.

Assessing the risk of illness accurately
Researchers from the University of Zurich and the University Children’s Hospital Zurich have now devised and evaluated a systematic questionnaire, which can be used to identify pre-school children with an increased risk of long-term post-traumatic disorders within a few days of an accident. For the first time, it is now possible for first responders such as pediatricians, nursing staff or emergency psychologists to assess small children accurately with regard to their risk of illness. “Children with an increased risk can thus be identified early and referred to an emergency psychologist for treatment,” explains Professor Markus Landolt. This prevents an acute stress response from developing into chronic mental illness that causes the child to suffer and spells a lengthy and expensive course of treatment.

For the study, Professor Landolt’s doctoral student Didier Kramer interviewed a total of 134 parents of two to six-year-old children seven days after a road accident or burn injury. The screening instrument used comprised 21 questions on changes in the child’s behavior after the accident and recorded a high degree of accuracy: 85 percent of the children examined who suffered from a post-traumatic stress disorder after six months had already been identified correctly a week after the accident with the aid of the questionnaire.

Markus Landolt is now planning an app for Smartphones in collaboration with IT scientists: “This app will enable the screening to be conducted even more easily and quickly, and above all implemented broadly.”

The systematic questionnaire for experts is available from the authors free of charge in English and German.

Literature:
Didier N. Kramer, Matthias B. Hertli, & Markus A. Landolt. Evaluation of an early risk screener for PTSD in preschool children after accidental injury. Pediatrics. September 23, 2013. doi:10.1542/peds.2013-0713
Contact:
Prof. Markus A. Landolt
Abteilung Psychosomatik und Psychiatrie
Kinderspital Zürich
Tel. +41 78 664 29 30
E-Mail: markus.landolt@kispi.uzh.ch
Nathalie Huber
Media Relations
Universität Zürich
Tel. +41 44 634 44 64
E-Mail: nathalie.huber@kommunikation.uzh.ch

Media Contact

Nathalie Huber Universität Zürich

More Information:

http://www.uzh.ch

All latest news from the category: Health and Medicine

This subject area encompasses research and studies in the field of human medicine.

Among the wide-ranging list of topics covered here are anesthesiology, anatomy, surgery, human genetics, hygiene and environmental medicine, internal medicine, neurology, pharmacology, physiology, urology and dental medicine.

Back to home

Comments (0)

Write a comment

Newest articles

Enhancing the workhorse

Artificial intelligence, hardware innovations boost confocal microscope’s performance. Since artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky patented the principle of confocal microscopy in 1957, it has become the workhorse standard in life…

In the quantum realm, not even time flows as you might expect

New study shows the boundary between time moving forward and backward may blur in quantum mechanics. A team of physicists at the Universities of Bristol, Vienna, the Balearic Islands and…

Hubble Spots a Swift Stellar Jet in Running Man Nebula

A jet from a newly formed star flares into the shining depths of reflection nebula NGC 1977 in this Hubble image. The jet (the orange object at the bottom center…

Partners & Sponsors