If you have experienced an animal attack, you know firsthand the trauma that comes with it. As attorneys in Washington, we at Cooney Law Offices, P.S., have long known that dog bites can cause tremendous, long-lasting pain and suffering in people of all ages. A recent study has shed further light on the long-term impact of dog bites on children.

Your dog bite was probably scary and painful, and Animal Behavioral Counseling Services, Inc., explains that for children in particular, even a single such serious incident can leave them suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. This may be particularly true for children who were bitten on the face or arms and legs and suffered disfigurement. Ninety-eight percent of children aged 3-12 who were studied after receiving such an injury showed signs of PTSD in the days immediately after the attack. Over 40 percent of those children were still suffering from symptoms of PTSD a year later.

Studies have demonstrated that PTSD can actually change the way that a child’s brain functions. In a magnetic resonance image study, brain activation in children from the ages of 10-17 who had been diagnosed with PTSD was compared to brain activation in peers without PTSD. The MRI images showed that children with PTSD experience lower hippocampus activation when completing a short memory task than do children without. Low hippocampal activation on the MRI corresponded with poor performance on the memory test. In other words, PTSD seems to have damaged these children’s hippocampi in such a way that their short-term memories are impaired. This all means that the impact of a severe dog bite on a child can have an even farther-reaching impact on his future life than initially understood.

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