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Pediatric Trauma and Critical Illness Branch (PTCIB)

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The PTCIB supports research and research training focused on preventing, treating, and reducing all forms of childhood trauma, injury, and critical illness to enhance healthy outcomes across the continuum of care. The Branch encourages collaborative inquiry in basic, clinical, and translational approaches to promote discoveries, new treatment paradigms, and preventive interventions that improve the quality of life for children and families who have experienced all forms trauma, unintentional and serious life-threatening injury, or critical illness. Topics of interest include respiratory failure, multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS), traumatic brain injury, sepsis, end-of-life issues in pediatric intensive care unit populations, child maltreatment, violence, and other causes of severe traumatic injury.

New: Research Priorities​

Care and Treatment of Trauma and Critical Illness for Pediatric Populations

Gap: Trauma in children is an underrecognized, but major public health problem. This situation is particularly concerning because even though their psychological and physiological responses to trauma differ from those of adults, treatment is still often based on studies of adults. 

  • Support research that increases understanding of the pathophysiology of psychological trauma, injury, and critical illness to optimize treatment outcomes and prevent future difficulties in this population of children.
  • Support research that specifically examines the ways in which treatments in the pediatric intensive care unit or emergency department for adults can be modified to address the unique needs of children in these care contexts.

Collaborative Multidisciplinary Research across the Continuum of Care

Gap:  The current approach to studying pediatric trauma, injury prevention, and critical illness is often compartmentalized, with each discipline operating independently.

Priority:  Support research that fosters collaborations among multidisciplinary teams of research scientists and allied health professionals to address research gaps and disparities in health outcomes among traumatized, injured, and critically ill children.  

Ethical Issues Related to the Care of Critically Ill Children and Their Families

Gap:  Very little quality empirical research has been published in this scientific area as it relates to pediatric critical care practice; as a consequence, there are numerous gaps in knowledge.  

Priorities: Focus on ethical issues in the following areas: (1) family/caregiver distress/burden and moral distress; (2) foregoing life-sustaining therapies, end-of-life care, organ donation, and bereavement; (3) decision-making/communication in the pediatric intensive care unit; and (4) morbidities and functional outcomes related to pediatric intensive care unit treatment modalities. 

Interplay of Physical and Psychological Trauma in Children

Gap: Little is known about the independent and combined effects of physical and psychological trauma in injured and critically ill children, or how these forms of trauma affect children's recovery and well-being.

Priority: Examines the distinctive aspects of psychological and physical trauma, the complex interplay of those traumas, and how they interact in care and treatment.

Multiple Organ Dysfunction Syndrome (MODS) in Critically Ill Children

Gap: MODS is defined as the simultaneous dysfunction of two or more organ system and is responsible for substantial morbidity and mortality among critically ill children. However, because it is not related to a single organ system, this topic is understudied and poorly understood.

Priority: Research the state of the science pertaining to MODS and its pathophysiologic process, etiology, and unique phenotypes.

Prevention and Treatment of Life Threatening Traumatic Injuries in Children

Gap:  Childhood injury is a serious and understudied public health problem in the United States and around the world. Many non-fatal injuries require hospitalization or result in disabling conditions, which may have a significant impact on a child's long-term health and well-being. 

Priority:  Support general and cause-specific prevention and intervention research studies on areas most likely to cause death or disability, including motor vehicle crashes, firearms, poisonings, drowning, self-injurious behavior, fires, burns, and injuries from all forms of violence against children.​

Contact Information

Name: Dr Valerie Maholmes
Pediatric Trauma and Critical Illness Branch
Phone: 301-496-1514

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