Webinar presenter Hilary Weinberg answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Traumatic Brain Injury: It’s Not Just about Football. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: What percentage of domestic violence victims has TBIs? You talked a little bit about the research but you didn’t get any further into any preliminary percentages.
Hilary Weinberg: All right, and it’s always a very hard effort to do. I think I had one slide where I did talk about that a little bit here and trying to go back and see if I can figure that one out. Are you still on my screen or read off? Okay. Let me see if I can find that. There was a substantial number that did report having a head injury. So let me go through my information here and see if I can find that. Dr. Handmaker may have that more handy for us. One of the things I talked about was that you know, we had close to a million and a half women that have reported intimate partner violence in their lifetime and of those, 60% to 92% reported that they had some kind of head injuries or face injuries during those episodes. So it was 60% to 92% of women who are domestic violence victims
Audience Question: So then is that so when you say that percentage, is it automatically assumed or is TBI interchangeable with those specifics that you were saying or the two synonymous basically?
Hilary Weinberg: A concussion is a traumatic brain injury, right? Just to make that clear a concussion is one form of any traumatic brain injury. That’s what is classified. We have 60% to 92% that is reporting that of the women who have been victims of domestic violence, 60% to 92% reported having an injury to their head or face and as you can probably see from you know, just breaking those tiny little neurons doesn’t take all the force in the world to cause that.
Audience Question: Do concussions cause permanent brain damage?
Hilary Weinberg: That may be more of a question for the medical folks. I wouldn’t really feel comfortable answering that but I think from what I can tell of having worked on this project, you can recover from a concussion. I think that it’s the more cumulative effects of getting a concussion and then getting another one before the first one has properly healed. But depending on the type of head injury you get there some that probably can cause permanent damage. Again I would defer more to Dr. Handmaker and the medical professionals on this but you know, it can be one injury that causes something so substantial that it does cause a lifelong injury especially if it’s not treated.
Audience Question: Do drugs and alcohol affect the ConQVerge and I’m not sure if I’m pronouncing that tool correctly, but do drugs and alcohol also affect the ConQVerge?
Hilary Weinberg: I think there can be an effect on that. There are some drugs and categories of drugs and this is where my DUI background checks in, which can cause a lack of conversions with the eyes where they won’t do the cross when they should and they’re not crossing properly so that can have an effect there. That’s one of the reasons why we really prefer that our victims also see medical personnel even after dealing with the police officer because the medical personnel is better trained at being able to separate what they’re seeing that maybe impairment from what may be the result of having head trauma.
Audience Question: How long after a concussion happens or the incident happens, will the ConQVerge tool actually be effective? Is this something that all shelters should be providing and could use at the time of intake with new clients?
Hilary Weinberg: That may be more of a question for Dr. Shear (?), but we do know that getting the timing and seeing the difference is almost more important than is the thing actually even is it working because we know that if the officer can get a victim to look at the device, you know fairly soon after the incident on the scene or the advocate with him can get the victim to participate in there, we get that data in there then if they go see medical personnel, you know, some of our nurses were trained in how to use it and they may be able to use it. So seeing some of the differences as time progresses is something that is very helpful for the doctors that we’re working with and assessing what’s going on with the concussions
Audience Question: We’ve got another question from Carrie asking that she’s a forensic nurse and she would love to learn more about getting the ConQVerge. Is that available? Another audience member, Viri, has asked is it only for law enforcement or can other professionals in this area can get those? Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Hilary Weinberg: Actually, I’m going to defer to Dr. Handmaker. He’s in contact with Dr. Shear on a regular basis to see what the availability is for that item. That is not something that is sort of in my wheelhouse.
Audience Question: Does a TBI affect a person and how they communicate longer term?
Hilary Weinberg: It can and what we saw is the, you know, the effects of having the concussion if the concussion is not treated there can be long term effects and sometimes things may show up down the road and if you think about the football players. I mean here you have a person who played for years and then after retirement all of a sudden there’s this major change in personality. It can happen, you know down the road. I’ll see I got a text from Dr. Handmaker, NPC changes immediately after a concussion. So that was his text to me. Let me find out what we have here. All right. Alright, well, I’m going to go and take another question. I’ll get some more information here while he’s doing that.
Audience Question: Is there actual evidence that DV numbers are really going up during COVID-19 or is this just an educated guess?
Hilary Weinberg: Okay, oh and just to clarify, NPC is near point convergence, Dr. Handmaker wants to clarify that that is what changes immediately after a person has a concussion. So the closer we can get those measurements to the time of the incident, the more information the doctors will have. As far as the COVID-19, I think it’s actually real. We have people who are stuck at home with the abuser. The abused can’t just like, you know, go in the other room and make the phone call to 911. They probably don’t feel safe here. A lot of agencies are actually coming up with ways to try to help victims communicate on the outside. I actually know of people who are advocates for victims and they’ve said hey if you need me, if you need help because of the domestic situation, text me and ask me where I got that tube of mascara or something about makeup and that way I will know that you are in danger. So there are ways of going into what can happen without kind of blowing the whistle on the abuser. People are kind of thinking outside the box and coming up with ways to communicate without being under the thumb of the abuser but you know, like I said people who would normally see these people. People aren’t afraid of hurting their significant other because no one’s coming to the house. No one’s going to see if I put a bruise on her now. I think that this is an absolutely real situation and that we need to pay attention to this and you know for our purposes the increase in numbers of domestic violence victims means more people getting traumatic brain injuries. And then one last thing is the as far as the near point conversions. Dr. Handmaker said if you go ahead and contact him and I put his contact info back up here on the screen, the ConQVerge is available for many settings. Go ahead and shoot him an email and he will be happy to engage you in what you need to know specifically about the device and its availability.