Suffering in Silence: Disparities in Treating TBI in Domestic Violence Victims

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Summary: Victims of physical domestic violence are 12 times more likely to suffer a TBI than athletes or members of the military, a new study reports. However, many victims’ injuries go undiagnosed or untreated.

Source: University of Montreal

Scenario 1: You’re an athlete. You get a blow to the head and collapse on the field. Medics rush in, examine you, get you to the hospital. It turns out you have a concussion. You are kept off the field until your injuries heal and are followed throughout the rehabilitation process. Your chances of recovery couldn’t be better.

Scenario 2: You’re a woman. Your partner is violent. He punches you in the head and chokes you. Every day. As these acts of violence accumulate, so does the likelihood of traumatic brain injury (TBI). You manage to escape his clutches and take refuge in a women’s shelter. You try to heal your psychological and social wounds. But your TBIs remain undiagnosed and untreated. And you have to live with the consequences.

Same injury, different cause, diametrically opposed treatments.

Women who experience a TBI as a result of domestic violence are left to fend for themselves. According to some studies, women who have been repeatedly choked and struck in the head are 11 to 12 times more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury than either athletes or soldiers, the other two groups most prone to TBI. Yet their injuries generally go undiagnosed and untreated.

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