Domestic Violence: symptoms would be similar to those of concussion of the athletes

Violence conjugale: des symptômes qui ressembleraient à ceux des commotions des athlètes

According to Statistics Canada, 79 % of victims of spousal violence reported to the police in the country are women.

8 December 2019 21h07


Domestic Violence: symptoms would be similar to those of concussion of the athletes

Brenna Owen

The canadian Press


VANCOUVER — victims of domestic violence could suffer the same health problems as the athletes, points out a researcher from British Columbia.

Based on research conducted in the United States, professor Paul van Donkelaar, University of British Columbia, argues that from 30 to more than 90 % of these victims could suffer brain damage.

Compared to the research on brain injury conducted on athletes, the one involving people who have suffered similar injuries due to intimate partner violence is in its infancy, says he.

The silence and stigma surrounding domestic violence means that those who suffer from brain injury fall through the cracks of the system. For professor van Donkelaar, Canada is facing “a public health crisis not recognized”.

According to Statistics Canada, 79 % of victims of spousal violence reported to police in Canada were women.

The violence is often not reported to the police. It is difficult to determine how many victims could have suffered a traumatic brain injury, ” says Dr. van Donkelaar.

Paul van Donkelaar, and Karen Mason were founded in 2016, an organization aimed at supporting victims of abuse through the research, the SOAR.

The organization seeks to determine the number of spousal violence victims that may have suffered head injuries. He also wants to know the extent to which their symptoms are similar to those of concussions related to the sport.

The researchers ask the victims if they have already lost knowledge, if they have dizziness or if they have memory loss.

The first results, published recently in the journal Brain Injury, indicate that 18 women initially recruited for the research reported symptoms compatible with those of a traumatic brain injury. The research is still ongoing, and Mr. van Donkelaar said that his team is in the process of assessing a sample of sixty women.

Domestic violence often includes blows to the head, face or neck, as well as chokes, has listed professor van Donkelaar.

“Each of these experiences has absolutely the potential to cause a form of brain injury, similar to what one would see in many sports of a collision, such as football or hockey.”

A first concussion can lead others, he warns.

“Each time, the chances of full recovery are lower”, he said. He noted that the people who have suffered multiple concussions, can end up with chronic symptoms such as dizziness, nausea or difficulty concentrating.

“This can be debilitating and reduce absolutely the quality of life in terms of the ability to keep a job, go to school, raise your children or to interact with colleagues and friends,” adds the university.

The fear and stigma that prevent people from complaining so the brain injury can become even more difficult to detect, particularly in the case of injury obvious like a fracture.

The SOAR has created resources to assist shelter workers and health professionals to have conversations with victims of domestic violence to assess if they could have a brain injury and refer them to appropriate support services.

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