One of the biggest health threats to children in Europe is road traffic accidents (RTA). Each year in Europe, approximately 9000 children and adolescents under the age of 19 die in an RTA, and 355 000 are injured (Eurosafe, 2007). Children can suffer significant and long-term mental health problems following RTAs and as a consequence there has been some research interest in early psychological interventions. A solicitor is unlikely to advise that a claim is settled until a full recovery from psychological injury is made. The reason for this is that if a person were to settle prior to a full recovery they would not be able to apply for further compensation if the injuries continued and recovery was extended. Therefore any mechanism to expedite recovery would mean less costly interventions, faster recovery and quicker claim settlement.
A randomised controlled trial of the effectiveness of a single-session early psychological intervention for children following Road Traffic Accidents (Zehnder, Meuli & Landolt, 2010) found that age and development specific interventions at an early stage after an RTA was beneficial. Previous studies had not found high levels of effectiveness but had utilised verbal interventions only without the use of more age appropriate mediums e.g. art and drawing.
Pre-adolescent children were found to be greatly helped by single-sessions 10 days after the RTA. It is suggested that a parent is involved in the intervention to create a trauma narrative through drawings and accident-related toys. This aids the child in finding meaning in their experience through being able to consider what has happened in an adaptive and concrete way. Psycho-educational information regarding post-traumatic stress and coping should also be provided. This approach was not noted to be as effective for adolescents or adults. It was also suggested that a high structured assessment early on is likely to be therapeutic as it acknowledges, validates and normalises symptoms (Stallard, Velleman, Salter et al., 2006).
Eurosafe (2007). European Child Safety Alliance: Childhood road safety: facts.
Stallard P, Velleman R, Salter E, Howse I, Yule W & Taylor G (2006): A randomised controlled trial to determine the effectiveness of an early psychological intervention with children involved in road traffic accidents. Journal Child Psychology and Psychiatry 47:127-134.
Zehnder D, Meuli, M & Landolt, M.A. (2010). Effectiveness of a single-session early psychological intervention for children after road traffic accidents a randomised controlled trial. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health 2010, 4:7
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Dr Tracy King regularly holds clinics in Canterbury, Sevenoaks and Ashford.