New Study Aims To Understand Trauma In Milwaukee Youth

Sep 30, 2020

Most people will have a traumatic experience at some point in their lives, and some of them will develop post-traumatic stress disorder. So how do you figure out who is at risk for developing PTSD? That's what Chris Larson's new study, called "Acute Predictors Of Long-Term Post-Trauma Outcomes In Youth Victims Of Violence," hopes to help figure out.

"It's really shocking how many kids are victims of violence. Actually, when I first started looking into this, I was really troubled by the rates of violence," she said. "Some studies say that up to 70% of kids will be victims of violence by the time they hit 18." 

Larson, a psychology professor at UW-Milwaukee, has a personal connection to how trauma affects people and efforts to both predict PTSD and treat it earlier. 

"My dad was a Vietnam vet that had some early adverse childhood experiences, and I saw the toll PTSD took on him, and I saw that I had an opportunity to understand that better," she said. 

The majority of her research focuses on adults, but she decided to look at how children's brains experience trauma for this study. Larson aims to improve the understanding of how trauma looks in the adolescent brain. She will recruit kids between the ages of 10- and 16-years-old from the emergency department at Children's Hospital in Milwaukee.