Psychological adjustment in children after traumatic disfiguring injuries: a 12-month follow-up

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2000 Dec;106(7):1451-8; discussion 1459-60. doi: 10.1097/00006534-200012000-00001.


The psychological adjustment of 57 children (age range, 3 to 12 years) who sustained mutilating traumatic injuries to the face or upper or lower extremities was assessed over a 12-month interval. The injuries had occurred as a result of boating, lawn mower, or home accidents or dog bites. Within 5 days of the traumatic event, 98 percent of the children were symptomatic for posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, or anxiety. One month after the injury, 82 percent were symptomatic. Symptom frequency had declined by the time of the 3-month and 6-month evaluations, but 44 percent of the children continued to report symptoms at 12-month follow-up visits, and 21 percent met the diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder. Typical symptoms included flashbacks, fear of re-injury, mood disorders, body-image changes secondary to disfigurement, sleep disturbances, and anxiety. These findings support the importance of psychological evaluation and treatment of children who suffer mutilating injuries that require the attention of plastic surgeons.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Home
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Age Factors
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Arm Injuries / psychology*
  • Arm Injuries / surgery
  • Bites and Stings / complications
  • Body Image
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Depression / etiology
  • Dogs
  • Facial Injuries / psychology*
  • Facial Injuries / surgery
  • Fear / physiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Leg Injuries / psychology*
  • Leg Injuries / surgery
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Mood Disorders / etiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Self Concept
  • Sex Factors
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology