Pediatric Trauma

Pediatric Trauma

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Summary

There are two types of trauma – physical and psychological (mental). They are often the result of a sudden, serious or life-threatening injury.

Expanded overview

Physical trauma refers to a sudden event that results in serious and life-threatening injuries to a child’s body, such as head or spinal trauma. It typically leads to secondary complications that need immediate medical attention.

A psychological trauma results from an event with an overwhelming amount of stress that seriously impacts a child’s emotional and mental wellbeing.

Causes

Physical trauma can be from a car accident, a fall from a great height, a drowning or a similar situation. Psychological trauma can be a result of physical, sexual or mental abuse.

Symptoms

Physical Trauma

Symptoms of physical trauma vary depending on the cause of the event and effect on the body. In addition to the physical impacts like broken bones, cuts and internal organ damage, other symptoms include:

  • Shock (sudden drop in blood flow through the body)
  • Respiratory failure (not enough oxygen to support your organs)

Psychological Trauma

Some of the common symptoms are listed below, but can vary widely depending on the child, age and the event.  

Birth to 3 years:

  • Aggressive or sexualized behavior
  • Decrease in play, exploration or mood
  • Developmental regression or language delay
  • Easily startled
  • Eating or sleep disturbances
  • General fearfulness or new fears
  • Irritable or difficult to soothe
  • Repetitive or post-traumatic play
  • Separation anxiety
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Talking about the traumatic event and reacting to triggers

3 years and above:

  • Anxious or clingy
  • Avoids contact
  • Developmental delays
  • Distracted or difficulty with problem solving
  • General fearfulness or new fears
  • Irritability, or aggressive or sexualized behavior
  • Physical symptoms (headache, inability to sleep, etc.)
  • Poor peer relationships and social problems (controlling/over permissive)
  • Repetitive or post-traumatic play
  • Restless, impulsive or hyperactive
  • Sadness, depression or self-destructive choices

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