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Children’s of Alabama doctor says pediatric gunshot victims suffer from physical and mental wounds

Published: Nov. 28, 2021 at 10:02 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Birmingham Police report that nine children under the age of 10 have been wounded by gunfire so far this year.

Doctors with Children’s of Alabama said they are seeing an increase in pediatric gunshot victims, with multiple kids just this last month.

“It’s not just a physical injury,” Children’s of Alabama Emergency room fellow Dr. Alicia Webb said. “The actual wound itself. The pain they go through and sometimes needing surgeries for that. There are long term consequences too. There is certainly an increase in PTSD, depression, anxiety from that trauma going forward.”

Webb said children are resilient, but it’s not an easy road to recovery for a kid who has been shot, mentally or physically.

“They spend a lot of time coming to the hospital,” Webb said. “A lot of time going to our rehab clinics. A lot of time in our surgery clinics. It’s a very long road to recovery for a lot of these kids. It can definitely change their world view and their feeling of safety, which is a huge thing for children.”

Webb said depending on their age and wounds, it can be hard for victims to process what happened.

“Particularly if they have an injury that is going to result in long term consequences,” she said. “It is a huge adjustment for the child once they realize what that is going to be and what life will be like. It’s devastating for the families. It is devastating for the siblings.”

Webb said Children’s of Alabama is also suffering from the statewide blood shortage.

“Gunshot wounds tend to be pretty high blood loss situations,” she said. “So, when we are on a shortage of blood, it can be really challenging to have to divvy that up.”

Webb said it is also difficult for staff when children come in wounded by bullets.

“It is hard when kids come in,” Webb said. “Particularly, when they were nearby or it was something they couldn’t prevent.”

Dr. Webb said it is critical for pediatric gunshot victims to get mental health help after the incident. Children’s hospital has a child life team to help them cope while they are in the hospital and set them up with care for when they leave.

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