iPods unravel key to children coping with trauma

The study, conducted by the Monash Injury Research Institute’s Dr Eva Alisic, in collaboration with the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne and the University of Arizona in the US, is taking the world-first approach of getting children aged 3-16 years old who have been seriously injured, to wear an iPod that records 30-second soundbites throughout their day after discharge from the hospital.

According to Dr Alisic, the recordings are done in combination with extensive interviews with the older children and parents or carers.

“The iPod recordings allow us to know what is happening in the real world of that child,” Dr Alisic said. 

“Do they talk of their injury or trauma? How much time are they alone? How many compliments do they get?”

In addition, Dr Alisic is conducting a large questionnaire study with emergency department personnel from around the world.

“We are trying to find out how emergency professionals feel they can be assisted in helping kids who have experienced trauma,” Dr Alisic said.

“What training do they need? How can they support the children and their families better?”

Dr Alisic said that most children recover well from a traumatic event but some children can develop nightmares, irritability, difficulty at school, and sudden changes of behaviour at school and home.

“They become different to how they once were. Fortunately there are effective treatments to help children who experience continuing stress symptoms,” Dr Alisic said.

Dr Alisic has just returned from the World Economics Forum in China where she was one of 41 to receive the Young Scientist of 2013 Award for her work contributing to the study of child mental health and resilience after traumatic events. 

Dr Alisic previously worked at the National Psychotrauma Center for Children and Youth, The Netherlands. She currently is the Vice-President of the Australasian Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ASTSS).

Monash University