The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pitfalls for Prince on dark road ahead
- Doctors put onus on parents to prevent ‘flashbacks’

Calcutta, July 23: The two days spent trapped inside a 60-foot-deep pit may leave the six-year-old Prince with a lifelong fear of the dark.

Psychologists here say the worst may be over for the child, but his brave demeanour shouldn’t fool his parents into thinking all would be fine with him.

The boy from Haryana’s Kurukshetra might have frequent nightmares and may be afraid to be left alone anywhere.

“If not treated properly, he can have long-term psychological damage and suffer from sleep disorder, bed-wetting, anxiety, restlessness and poor concentration,” warned psychiatrist J.R. Ram.

“There may be recurring flashbacks, with the frightening images returning to haunt him. After all, he would have been fearing for his life. An adult would have known help was coming but a child would be more afraid.”

Prince, though, had looked quite at ease for long periods, resting in his prison as television cameras relayed his pictures, often nibbling at the chocolates and biscuits lowered to him in a bucket. But occasionally, he would break into tears of desperation.

Doctors say the parents’ behaviour is the key. If they show too much anxiety, it might have an adverse effect on the child. “There shouldn’t be any discussion of the accident in front of him, and no one must ask him about it,” a doctor warned.

The noxious gases inside the bore-well pit and the relative hypoxia (lack of oxygen) are likely to have affected the boy’s physical condition, too.

“In these cases, there is shortage of oxygen supply to the brain for a prolonged period,” said Apurba Ghosh, director, Institute of Child Health.

The symptoms would be headache, uneasiness, nausea, fatigue, respiratory distress, even unconsciousness and seizures.

Prince, though, was supplied with oxygen in the pit through a pipe. Water, too, was lowered to him.

“He might look all right now, but in later life his normal activities could be affected because of the long time he spent without enough oxygen. The cognitive functions of the brain can be harmed,” Ghosh said. Hypoxia can also damage the heart, lungs, kidney, liver and other organs.

“The boy should immediately undergo an MRI scan of his brain and other examinations to find out the amount of damage,” Ghosh said.

Doctors feel the best way to allow Prince to get over the shock would be to ease him into normal life.

“He must be sent to school, allowed to play with his friends and continue other normal activities. Then he can forget his trauma quickly,” a psychologist said.

Today, the child had seemed to buck up rather quickly after his rescue as those around him tried to boost his morale.

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