Barrow Concussion Expert Urges Congress to Aid Domestic Violence Victims

Explains Link Between Domestic Violence and Traumatic Brain Injury

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2017 – Citing victims who “live in the shadows,” a Barrow Neurological Institute doctor today urged a Congressional panel to step up federal funding for domestic violence-related concussion research and provide health care coverage and legal support for traumatic brain injury victims.

“Largely female, often poor, domestic violence victims suffer in silence and live in the shadows,” Dr. Javier Cárdenas, director of the Barrow Concussion & Brain Injury Center in Phoenix, said in prepared remarks for the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force. “In our clinic, we see increasing numbers of domestic violence victims who have suffered too many traumatic brain injuries to count.”

To help the medical community address the problem, Cárdenas called for the National Institutes of Health to fund domestic violence-related concussion research. Numerous studies have examined the link between football and concussion but relatively little research has been conducted on domestic violence-related concussions, he said.

“Anyone who has looked at the research on traumatic brain injury and domestic violence knows it stinks,” Dr. Cárdenas told the panel. “There’s not enough research.”

He also said it was critically important to boost health insurance and legal assistance targeted toward domestic violence victims.

“These injuries severely impact their ability to work, make sound decisions and live productive lives,” Cárdenas said. “Many victims, after leaving their abuser, encounter post-concussive symptoms that include memory loss. They struggle to understand legal documents, miss hearings and make poor judgments.”

Dr. Cárdenas testified in a briefing titled “The Silent Epidemic in America – Brain Injury and Domestic Violence.” The briefing was hosted by the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, co-chaired by Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.).

Dr. Cárdenas told the Representatives about the efforts of the Barrow Concussion and Brain Injury Center, where a specialty program has been established to address traumatic brain injury among domestic violence survivors. The program is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.

Last year, Barrow physicians and researchers at Barrow released a groundbreaking study that linked domestic violence and traumatic brain injury. The study found that 88 percent of victims suffered more than one brain injury as a result of their abuse while 81 percent reported too many brain injuries to count.