Home Health & Wellness High Social Vulnerability Predicts Worse Long-Term Outcomes After Traumatic Injury

High Social Vulnerability Predicts Worse Long-Term Outcomes After Traumatic Injury

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Traumatic injuries – such as physical injuries resulting from a car accident, fall, gunshot, or stabbing – are one of the most common causes of impairment and disability worldwide.

A team of investigators led by Juan P. Herrera-Escobar, MD, MPH, of the Brigham’s Center for Surgery and Public Health, found that living in an area with higher social vulnerability is strongly associated with worse mental and physical health outcomes after a traumatic injury.

Areas with high social vulnerability are those with higher poverty and unemployment rates, lower income, higher proportion of racial/ethnic minority groups and people with limited English-speaking ability, more households without vehicles, and crowded housing, among other factors.

The team leveraged data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Social Vulnerability Index (SVI), a data-driven tool used to inform decision about Covid vaccine allocation.

‘These findings suggest that community-level social factors play a significant role in recovery after injury,’ said Herrera-Escobar. ‘The CDC’s SVI could serve in trauma as a branch point in determining referral to a standard set of post-discharge support services and interventions, such as mental health services, assistance with return to work, and rehabilitation services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy.’

Meanwhile, Emma Ruth, the founder of Mind Full Spa – an online platform which provides  support for mental health from a holistic and psychological perspective – explained: ‘ The impact on a person’s mental health and wellbeing following a traumatic injury can be severe, and often can be delayed. It is common for people to experience symptoms of PTSD following such an event, such as flashbacks, mood swings, inability to regulate emotions and avoidance of situations.’

Emma added: ‘It is important to note that a trauma is an experience which puts someone, or someone close to them, in danger. 
‘This experience causes a stress response, which is essentially is there to protect us- flight/flight/freeze response. However, this response can often be a terrifying experience in and of itself. 
‘The brain is always trying to protect us, and so it keeps track of these experiences as ‘threats’ and if we experience anything resembling this again, the same response is triggered.’
These stress responses can become so frequent and terrifying, that it is common for sufferers to experience panic attacks, social anxiety, phobias, and even develop substance misuse as a coping mechanism.
The impact of injury and other trauma on mental health and well-being is profound and is something that needs to be supported as part of rehabilitation.

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