In recent years there has been significant interest in the way that repeat brain injuries affect long-term personality and mental health issues. The focus has been most intense when it comes to athletic injuries. Many former NFL football players, for example, have faced serious problems after their retirement, presumably as a result of the head trauma they suffered during their playing days. Some of those injuries include mental health challenges, constant depressive thoughts, and, in some cases, suicide. Former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson and Chargers legend Junior Seau are two of the more high-profile examples.
If repeated head trauma caused by sports can lead to these sort of long-term issues, then is the same true in other contexts? That is a question being asked, surprisingly enough, in the wake of the tragic suicide of country music singer Mindy McCready.
Domestic Violence & Brain Injury
As discussed in a recent Fox News report, McCready died this week apparently due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. While something as complex as suicide likely cannot be understood by pointing to a single incident or injury, as in the football context, there are very real questions being asked about whether past brain trauma may have influenced McCready’s situation.
The story notes that McCready was in an abusive relationship in the past. She suffered from seizures that she attributed to a brain injury she developed as a result of the abuse at the hands of a former boyfriend. While there is little concrete data about this exact situation to know with any certainty, it is not unreasonable to speculate on whether there was any connection between McCready mental health issues which led to suicide and very real damage caused by a brain injury.
The article takes a broader view, and discusses how domestic violence in general may be a serious cause of brain injury–with ramifications for the victims long after the outside wounds heal. For one thing, research from the late 90s found that nine out of ten domestic violence injuries affect the head, neck, and face. Another research project a few years later found that upwards of 76% of women in shelters for domestic violence had suffered a brain injury.
It is important to remember that this is not some isolated concern that affects only a small sliver of society in unfortunate relationships. The sad reality is that domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to all women between the ages of 15 and 44. Considering the prevalence of this abuse, and the likelihood that it might result in brain injury, it is critical that those affected understand their risks and seek treatment as soon as possible.
The bottom line is that traumatic brain injury occurs quite frequently, and there are certain settings–such as abusive relationships–where it may be far more common. The more we learn about the long-term ramifications of these injuries, the more important it is to ensure those affected have access to the full scope of treatments and financial resources to pay for treatments. When intentional misconduct or negligence is at the root of the injury, then a lawsuit may be appropriate to ensure full redress.
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