Ohio Department of Public Safety awards Kent State research grant

Emily Mills

The Ohio Department of Public Safety has awarded Kent State University an $81,445 grant for research on children who have been the victims of traumatic injury and their families.

Douglas Delahanty, professor of psychology at Kent State and director of the Initiative for Clinical and Translational Research, applied for the grant after he heard about it from colleagues at Akron Children’s Hospital.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety put out a call for research studies that would examine acute trauma injuries and their effects, especially in children transported by emergency medical services, such as ambulances or helicopters.

“It falls perfectly in line with what we’ve done for the last 15 years,” Delahanty said.

The focus of his research has been predicting which children are likely to develop persistent stress and other disorders because of acute trauma injuries.

Only a minority of children who experience acute trauma injuries will develop these kinds of stress disorders. However, some inevitably will, and Delahanty and his team want to predict who these children are.

“What you’re trying to do is determine who’s not likely to return to normal,” Delahanty said.

The question Delahanty hopes to answer through his research is, “Can we intervene early on to prevent that in those individuals?”

The one-year study, which begins September 3, will start with the recruitment of children with traumatic injuries and their families.

English-speaking children between the ages of eight and 18 are eligible. Delahanty and his team would like between 400 and 500 families to participate.

Parents are going to be actively involved in the study because, according to Delahanty, how they react to their child’s injury can have a profound effect on the child’s psychological symptoms.

“They can expose the child to traumatic reminders, or keep them from them,” Delahanty said.

Fathers and paternal figures will also be especially important to the study. Mothers and maternal figures are often very involved in the recovery process for their children, and many studies have been done about that interaction. However, there are few studies exploring the relationship with the paternal figure.

After recruitment, there will be a follow-up at two weeks, three months and six months to assess the children for acute stress disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Other factors that could affect the children’s healing process, such as family environment and parent response, will also be examined.

The study wants to explore “what variables lead to the development of symptoms,” Delahanty said.

The Ohio Division of Emergency Medical Services and the State EMS Board collected the money for the grant from seatbelt violations.

The study funded by the grant is a collaboration between Kent State faculty and students and Akron Children’s Hospital employees.

Contact Emily Mills at [email protected].