Pediatric Behavioral Health in the Division of General and Thoracic Surgery

UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh is home to the nationally recognized Benedum Pediatric Trauma Program. It is led by a multidisciplinary team of trauma surgeons and specialists to provide immediate evaluation, consultation, and care.

Behavioral health experts are integrated into the Division of General and Thoracic Surgery at UPMC Children's. They provide collaborative care with your child's medical teams. They offer specialized knowledge and skills for providing evidence-based, trauma-informed psychological screenings and treatment to youth experiencing traumatic injuries.

The team works with children and families who experience:

  • Serious injuries, including:
    • Spinal cord injuries.
    • Amputation.
    • Traumatic brain injuries.
    • Multiple injuries.
  • Pediatric Medical Traumatic Stress and Trauma-Informed Care.
  • Mood, anxiety, and behavioral concerns related to complex or life-limiting injuries.
  • Difficulty with adjustment to hospitalization and medical care.
  • Challenges following exposure to distress, pain, or death of others (e.g., witnessing injury or death of loved ones during a trauma).
  • Adjustment to physical limitations or visible changes in appearance related to traumatic injury.

What is Pediatric Medical Traumatic Stress?

According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Pediatric Medical Traumatic Stress is a set of psychological and physiological responses of children and their families to pain, injury, medical procedures, and invasive or frightening treatment experiences.

Traumatic stress can lead to several reactions, including:

  • Experiencing unwanted memories of the traumatic event.
  • Nightmares and other difficulties with sleep.
  • Flashbacks.
  • Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Feeling numb.
  • Blaming oneself or others.
  • Changes in mood and behavior.

Traumatic medical experiences can include:

  • An event that results in traumatic injury.
  • Painful medical procedures.
  • Time of diagnosis.
  • Treatment setbacks.
  • The medical environment.
  • Reminders of previous traumatic experiences.
  • Changes in appearance or functioning due to illness or injury.

Behavioral Health Care for Children with Traumatic Injuries

Our behavioral health experts:

  • Provide screening for traumatic stress responses following a traumatic event.
  • Provide education about common reactions to medical trauma.
  • Identify and optimize existing supports and coping strategies for children and families following a traumatic event.
  • Provide therapeutic treatment for youth experiencing acute or posttraumatic stress symptoms, including education about trauma, trauma responses, and skills to promote coping after a traumatic event.
  • Deliver Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in the outpatient setting (What is Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?).
  • Support in identifying when a child may benefit from additional psychosocial support.
  • Care coordination.