Screening for History of TBI Among Women Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence

Woman in Pain with Hands at Side of Head

Though both genders can experience intimate partner violence (IPV), the vast majority of victims are women. Most injuries caused by IPV are located on the head and face, and up to one fifth of these injuries can be classified as a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI). This can cause significant physical, cognitive, and emotional impairments in both the long and short term.

A recent study proposed a TBI screening system for women who have experienced IPV. The proposed framework of criteria for an effective assessment tool included safe and private screening for IPV victims, IPV knowledge, and sensitivity training for medical staff. They evaluated nine TBI assessment tools currently in use as potential screening for victims of IPV and found that none met their framework’s criteria. The Brain Injury Screening Questionnaire (BISQ) and the Ohio State University TBI Identification Method (OSU TBI-ID) came close to accommodating the new framework, but was not rigorous enough to meet all the criteria important for assessing victims of IPV.

Many TBI screening methods are aimed at athletes and school-aged children, and these screening tools assume that TBI is the result of an accident rather than assault. Identification of a TBI is the first step toward an appropriate treatment plan, so employing a modified screening framework is crucial for women whose IPV-related TBI may otherwise go undetected.

Source: Goldin Y, Haag HL, Trott CT. Screening for history of traumatic brain Injury among women exposed to intimate partner violence. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. (May 2016).

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