Many children injured in traffic collisions develop subsequent symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) according to a newly published study from Sweden. As many as one-third of children brought to the emergency department (ED) after sustaining a traffic injury “fulfilled diagnostic criteria” for PTSD after one month, with 23% still showing symptoms three to six months after the crash. These psychological issues are often overlooked, as the severity of psychological symptoms is unrelated to the severity of physical injuries. Risk factors for developing symptoms of PTSD include “a perceived threat to life and high levels of distress during and immediately after” a crash. While PTSD symptoms are currently under-addressed, Texas trauma researchers are studying “prevention and control strategies” to understand mental health outcomes of children after involvement in traffic collisions.
In Austin several thousand children are involved in traffic collisions each year as drivers, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. While post-trauma control strategies are the responsibility of medical professionals, groups leading prevention efforts must know where to target resources for a community to create optimal impact. The patterns of where these occur can be seen in maps produced by Children’s Optimal Health for the second Transportation-related Child Injury project. From 2010 to 2012 there were 7,678 collisions involving children, and 434 collisions between motor vehicles and child pedestrians or bicyclists, in the jurisdiction of the Austin Police Department (APD).
 “Many Children Affected by Posttraumatic Stress Disorder after Traffic Accidents.” Retrieved 30 July 2014.
 “The association between positive screen for future persistent posttraumatic stress symptoms and injury incident variables in the pediatric trauma care setting.” Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery 2012 June 72(6):1640-6. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e31824a4c75. Retrieved 30 July 2014.