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More Lasting Damage From Gun Violence Than Car Accidents

THURSDAY, Jan. 23, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Gun violence appears to deliver more long-term damage to survivors than car crashes do.

"Our study shows that injury, and especially firearm injury, casts a long shadow over the lives of those who survive," said study author Dr. Juan Herrera-Escobar. He is research director of Long-Term Outcomes in Trauma in the Center for Surgery and Public Health at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

His team noted that death is not the only public burden of gunshot injuries. In 2017, for every person in the United States who died of gunshot wounds, three others survived.

The study assessed 63 gunshot injury survivors who were treated at three trauma centers in Boston. The researchers found that 6 to 12 months after suffering their injuries, 68% reported daily pain; 53% screened positive for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); 39% said they had a new limitation in a daily living activity such as walking, cooking, eating or going to the bathroom; and 59% had not returned to work.

Three-quarters of the survivors were experiencing at least one of these long-term consequences.

These victims were significantly more likely to have daily pain or PTSD, and worse physical and mental health-related quality of life than car crash survivors with similar injuries, according to the study published online Jan. 16 in the Annals of Surgery.

"When it comes to the public health problem posed by firearm injury, death is just one piece of the puzzle," Herrera-Escobar said in a hospital news release.

"Mortality rates for trauma patients have been dropping significantly over the last 20 years, but this presents a new challenge: What will we do for patients whose lives we save but who continue to suffer from the repercussions of traumatic injury?" Herrera-Escobar said.

This study is just a start, and many more questions need to be answered, he added.

"We need to better understand the causes of these outcomes so that we can find opportunities for intervention," Herrera-Escobar said. "This work has profound implications for trauma systems and highlights the failure to help patients receive the proper services for a successful recovery after a traumatic, firearm-related injury."

More information

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has more on the effects of gun violence.

SOURCE: Brigham and Women's Hospital, news release, Jan. 16, 2020

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