Concussions affect domestic violence victims

Posted at 6:38 PM, Oct 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-03 18:38:35-04

Concussions and brain injuries have been associated with war veterans and athletes, but now a startling number of domestic abuse victims have conditions you'd expect to see from someone on the sports field.

It's been three years since Michelle Plastow moved from Wisconsin. 

"The first time he choked me it was actually till I passed out," she said.

That was just the beginning. Plastow said her boyfriend was abusive. She said she was hit so severely she got an injury usually associated with NFL football players, college athletes and members of the military.

A report from the Journal of Family and Community Health suggests as many as 60 percent of domestic abuse survivors are also recovering from traumatic brain injuries, like concussions.

"Some of the immediate effects are difficulty concentration, memory, you have physical effects, like vision problems, balance problems, and hearing problems," Dr. Jaunita Celix said. 

Dr. Celix diagnoses those injuries, she said oftentimes women who are physically abused can have 10, 20 or even 30 smaller brain injuries before coming in for medical help and that can be debilitating.

"More severe injuries need serious kind of brain rehab.," she said. "How to get about in the world. Occupational therapy how to take care of things at home, create a shopping list, plan your life."

Plastow said it was difficult for her to heal from her injury. Though it was her first and only concussion, it was so intense that she quit her job. 

It's important to note that blows to the head aren't the only cause of traumatic brain injuries, strangulation can also lead to the same injuries and problems as concussions.

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