Penn Medicine Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is apparently developed in 1 out of every 5 children who experience a traumatic event like car accident, physical or sexual assault, sports injury or witnessing violence. Scientists have developed a novel approach that may enhance communication between child and caregiver, namely identifying and managing traumatic stress symptoms and teach coping skills for avoiding chronic and sub-clinical PTSD in children by 73 percent. It appears to be the first preventive approach for boosting outcomes in traumatized kids.

The intervention known as Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI) was probably able to decrease PTSD symptoms in children. Some of these symptoms may include reliving a traumatic experience, sleep disturbances, emotional numbness, angry outbursts or difficulties in concentrating. CFTSI also claims to aid in quick recovery than a comparison intervention. The study was initiated on 106 children between the age group of 7 to 17 years. These kids were provided with a caregiver who was randomly assigned for acquiring the four-session Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention or a four-session supportive comparison intervention. These sessions were provided within 30 days following exposure to a traumatic event.

Steven Berkowitz, MD, associate professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and director of the Penn Center for Youth and Family Trauma Response and Recovery and the lead study author, enlightened, “This is the first preventative intervention to improve outcomes in children who have experienced a potentially traumatic event, and the first to reduce the onset of PTSD in kids. If this study is replicated and validated in future studies, this intervention could be used nationally to help children successfully recover from a traumatic event without progressing to PTSD.”

The study participants were referred by police, a forensic sexual abuse program, or the local pediatric emergency department in Connecticut. Commenced with an initial baseline assessment, the CFTSI intervention aimed to calculate child’s trauma history. Researchers made a preliminary visit with the caregiver and focused on their essential role in the process. During the session scientists encouraged improvement in communication between the child and caregiver, along with other supportive measures. On completion of the other two sessions the clinician, caregiver and child, agreed on a homework assignment to practice certain coping skills. Having analyzed the behavioral skill components, scientists were probably able to provide techniques of identifying and managing traumatic stress symptoms. Further investigations can be triggered for evaluating the effectiveness of this intervention.

The study is published online in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.