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Trauma is a Brain Injury

21 Nov. 2017 Posted by aadams

Daniel J. Potterton, FEI Chief Operating Officer

A recent TV news broadcast told the terrifying story of a 10-year-old girl and her mother, who were held hostage in their car for over 30 minutes by an unknown gunman. Using the distraction caused by the surrounding police officers, the mother and child escaped the vehicle to the safety of a patrol car. Soon after there was an exchange of gun fire. The escaping gunman was killed.

After detailing the sequence of events to the audience, the on-scene reporter ended his broadcast by stating that “the mother and daughter were unharmed.”

Really? Being subject to a hijacking and terrorized for 30 minutes before witnessing the suspect die left the mother and child unharmed? Okay everyone, go back to what you were doing—life is back to normal!

Although I’m sure it was unintentional, the reporter’s perspective minimizes the effect such a frightening, surreal event has on people. Empirical brain science provides ample evidence concerning the impact traumatic events can have on the mind and body. While there may be no immediate or visible harm to the body, the mind has taken a beating. And, in some cases, research has shown brain changes caused by trauma increase the likelihood of someone developing very serious psychological problems.

The good news is that there are effective treatments that can help.

In the immediate wake of a traumatic event, providing professional support opportunities for affected trauma victims, individually and/or in groups, is an important first step. This support typically entails education on the effects of trauma as “normal responses to an abnormal event” as well as noting the signs and symptoms of downstream effects. Trauma victims often find great comfort in knowing how their brain copes and how it works to protect itself, organizes to adapt to the experience and begins a healing process.

Taking a step further in the healing process involves helping people understand that it’s okay to seek professional assistance for managing anxiety, depression, feelings of insecurity and the lack of predictability they once had in their lives. Recovering to a new normal and once again finding joy in their lives is sometimes more of a marathon than a sprint.

FEI’s crisis management and employee assistance programs are designed to meet the needs and recovery efforts of individuals, community groups and families following any kind of crisis event. We have responded to natural disasters, man-made terrorist acts and mass casualty accidents affecting anywhere from one individual to scores of people.

Consult with an FEI account representative today to learn more about planning, preparation, response, and recovery for traumatic incidents.

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