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  • Writer's pictureDr Josh Bonine DC

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children Post MVA

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children Post MVA

When motor vehicle accidents occur with children in the car, it may be difficult to fully assess the level of injury. Many times this is because of communication barriers, but also because of the nature of the injuries. Although the first items to come to mind are ligamentous injuries or other musculoskeletal problems, children are resilient and often it is post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, that can be present. Being able to recognize this problem is critical when examining children that have been involved in car accidents. In a study by Mather, Tate and Hannan (2003), the authors reported, “The issues are particularly complex in children because of variations in developmental stages which impact upon the child’s cognitive capacity to deal with events” (p. 1078).

The authors go on to report, “The results from this study provide firm evidence for the presence of significant PTSD symptomatology in children and adolescents following relatively minor injuries sustained in traffic accidents. The finding that 74% of children displayed significant PTSD symptomatology ~6 weeks after the accident is higher than previous reports, although methodological differences among the studies may account for the discrepancies” (Mather, Tate & Hannon, 2003, p. 1084).

Accurate assessment of bodily injury in children is important and the authors finally state “The need for direct assessments of children following traumatic events is indicated, given the finding of a discrepancy between child and parental report of PTSD symptomatology” (Mather, Tate & Hannon, 2003, p. 1086). When working with traumatic injury, clinicians must be aware of PTSD, its effects on children and when to refer for proper treatment.


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Mather, F. J., Tate, R. L., & Hannan, T. J. (2003). Post-traumatic stress disorder in children following road traffic accidents: A comparison of those with and without mild traumatic brain injury. Brain Injury, 17(12), 1077-1087.



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