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Beyond the Physical Injuries: Child and Parent Coping With Medical Traumatic Stress After Pediatric Trauma

Rzucidlo, Susan E. MSN, RN; Campbell, Marie MSEd, MS, RN, CPC

doi: 10.1097/JTN.0b013e3181b9e078
Section: Clinical Care

Experiencing a traumatic event and then the required care for the physical injuries can elicit stress symptoms in the injured child and parents. Stress-related symptoms affect a significant number of injured children and can have an impact on emotional and physical health outcomes after injury. Yet the majority of children who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder postinjury go undiagnosed and untreated. Medical traumatic stress symptoms that occur often as adaptive responses initially can persist. Acute stress disorder is diagnosed when the stress symptoms persist less than 1 month postinjury and affect normal functioning. Inclusion of screening for acute stress and the development of models and guidelines are needed to systematically incorporate the care for the emotional trauma as an integral part of pediatric trauma care. Pediatric trauma nurses with knowledge and resources are in a position to minimize potentially traumatic aspects of the care they deliver, recognize traumatic stress symptoms, and help parents to support their child's coping and promote appropriate help seeking.

Susan E. Rzucidlo, MSN, RN, is Pediatric Trauma and Injury Program Manager, Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital, Hershey, Pennsylvania, and Marie Campbell, MSEd, MS, RN, CPC, is Performance Improvement/Registry Coordinator, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Corresponding Author: Susan E. Rzucidlo, MSN, RN, Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital, 500 University Dr, Room C5523, Mail Code H075, Hershey, PA 17033 (

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.