Beating brain injury in abuse victims
There’s a lot in the news about football players and brain trauma. Not so much about domestic violence survivors. Researchers in Phoenix have released a study that shows traumatic brain injury is rampant among them, particularly women in homeless shelters. They’ve released some shocking statistics about how often and how badly the survivors are injured and how that affects their cognitive ability. Now, those women are getting help to return to productive lives.
Debbie Davenport needs help navigating through her day. She has trouble with balance after a lifetime of head trauma that started when she was seven.
Davenport told Ivanhoe, “I’ve had at least 70 more blows to the head or had my head slammed down to the cement or into walls.”
She was part of barrow’s brain trauma study spearheaded by Dr. Glynnis Zieman and social worker Ashley Bridwell. Of 115 homeless women studied, 88 percent had too many blows to the head to count. Eighty one percent had lost consciousness at least once. Few saw a doctor.
“You start looking at these cases and you have to ask yourself, y’know, how many of these people were failing, “failing” as a result of the cognitive impairment,” Bridwell said.
“Although it is a difficult challenge at the very beginning when patients have a lot of symptoms that have been longstanding, there really are ways to improve people’s lives,” Zieman said.
More than 375 people, like Davenport, have come through this barrow program grants cover what patients’ insurance doesn’t. Davenport says it’s turned her life of abuse around.
“I’ve learned that I’m strong enough to take care of myself. I’m strong enough to know where it came from and to tell people no,” Davenport explained.
Dr. Zieman and Ashley Bridwell published their paper on the study in 2017. They didn’t find the results too surprising because they see the results of repeated concussion every day. But they want to educate others about what’s happening. They also want to expand their program to more homeless shelters around phoenix.