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Domestic Violence Victims Suffer Silently with Brain Injuries

The prevalence of traumatic brain injuries within certain sports is well documented. News outlets are filled with stories about the National Football League player lawsuit, as well as legal actions against the National Collegiate Athletic Association and World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. While these victims are front and center in the conscious of the public, some organizations are working to help a group of victims who often go unheard.

According to the Mayo Clinic, TBIs occur when an external force connects with the head, causing the brain to malfunction. The force is usually a blow to the head or a violent jolt. The symptoms of a TBI can range from a mild concussion to fatality. With most TBI patients, the injury causing force is obvious. A military veteran may have experienced a battlefield related injury. The body of a car crash victim probably jolted forcefully or his head may have hit some area of the car. For athletes, the physical contact of the sport can create a significant force. While all of these possibilities are openly and commonly discussed, the blow of a lover’s hand to the head is not.

TBIs Among Domestic Violence Victims
Recent reports discuss how domestic violence victim advocates are creating programs to study and analyze TBIs among women and children in violent relationships. Sojourner Center of Phoenix, Arizona is reportedly one of the nation’s longest running domestic violence shelters. In conjunction with The CACTIS Foundation, Conquering Concussion, the University of Arizona and the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, the organization recently introduced the Sojourner Brain Recovery and Inter-professional Neuroscience (BRAIN) Program.

According to the article,women in domestic violence reported the following:

92% had been struck in the head
83% had been struck in the head and shaken violently
More than 7% had been hit in the head more than 20 times within one year

Hirsch Handmaker, MD is Chairman and CEO of The CACTIS Foundation. He is quoted in the article as stating, “Accounting for the incidence of TBI in victims of domestic violence could potentially result in 20 million women exhibiting signs and symptoms of TBI each year… Additionally, it is estimated that in 50 percent of households where domestic violence occurs, a child is also at risk for TBI. The Sojourner BRAIN program will bring to light this rarely reported public health epidemic and guide evidenced-based ‘best practices’ by producing effective, quantifiable outcomes.”

Program coordinators plan to create a database of statistical information about the problem. They will then develop standards of care and procedures to train and inform professionals who commonly work with domestic violence victims, including social workers, pediatricians and emergency physicians. According to the article, these patients are not routinely screened for TBIs upon receiving treatment for other injuries.

See Related Posts:

Does Brain Injury Contribute to Domestic Violence?

Sports-Related Brain Injuries