Traumatic Brain Injury: It’s Not Just about Football

Traumatic Brain Injury: It's Not Just about Football
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Resources
Recorded on: 2020-04-16
Unit 1Workbook: Traumatic Brain Injury
Unit 2Recording: Traumatic Brain Injury

We worry about concussions due to sports injuries or car accidents but rarely do we consider if a domestic violence victim may be concussed from physical blows to the face and head. In a leaked video from 2014, Ray Rice, an NFL athlete, was seen striking his then-fiancée Janay Palmer in the head. Janay ended up unconscious on the floor, leading the world to wonder – is such an assault really just merely a misdemeanor?

Back on Justice Clearinghouse is Hilary Weinberg who leads this session to understand concussions, how it impacts cognition and DV-related incidents. Hilary has been with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for more than 20 years, assigned in various bureaus. She’s been assigned as the Bureau Chief for Family Violence for 5 years and is currently prosecuting Vehicular Crimes Bureau cases.

Points covered on this webinar include:

  • The video footage that demonstrated how Ray Rice struck Janay Palmer in the head knocking her unconscious.
  • A brief explanation of what a concussion and mild traumatic brain injury is, and how these impact brain function and circuitry.
  • The head injuries exposé in the NFL.
    • How the Fainaru Brothers, Dr. Bennet Omalu, Dr. Anne McKee, and Alan Schwartz uncovered the medical risks and cognitive issues NFL athletes are subjected to.
    • Mike Webster, Terry Long, Junior Seau, et al.: Athletes whose lives were significantly affected due to the head injuries they acquired from playing football.
    • How the NFL tried to withhold information and findings of studies on the long-term consequences of concussions from the public.
    • The battle between NFL execs and the families of athletes who demand accountability to the medical and neurological issues the athletes experience.
  • Head injuries in domestic violence settings where there is no referee to stop the abuse nor a medical team ready to give immediate medical attention to the victim.
  • Statistics that highlight the prevalence of head and face injuries in victims of DV/IPV.
  • Challenges with DV/IPV related head injuries.
    • Victims’ reluctance to report incidents of abuse and get medical attention.
    • Responders’ inability to recognize if a victim is potentially concussed due to the absence of visible injury.
    • Confounding signs and symptoms that pose a challenge for medical professionals to identify whether the symptom is a result of the concussion.
  • The ConQVerge: An innovative solution that allows immediate evaluation of the possibility of a concussion and provides corresponding medical attention dependent on the findings of the device.
  • Other factors to consider on DV-related head injuries.
    • Women’s reluctance to report DV-related head trauma.
    • How concussions lead to an increased propensity for self-harm and suicide ideation.
    • How COVID-19 creates a higher risk of DV incidents.
    • Understanding the cycle of violence where an abuser might have received similar head trauma due to family violence in the past.
    • The potential of victims developing Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
  • Maricopa County’s multi-disciplinary approach to address DV-related head trauma through public awareness, personnel training, victim empowerment, and legislation.

Some of the questions raised by the audience concerned:

  • Statistics of DV victims found to have traumatic brain injuries.
  • Definition of terms.
  • The damage concussions may cause on the brain.
  • Factors that may affect the accuracy of the ConQVerge.
  • Availability of ConQVerge for other agencies.
  • Evidence on how COVID-19 aggravated DV incidents.


Audience Comments

  • “I was impressed with the handheld device to investigate possible concussions in DV victims. Definitely an important topic to introduce to first responders and healthcare professionals.” — Alicia
  • “The lasting impacts of TBI for victims of domestic violence. I work with a lot of native victims of domestic violence and I’m sure many have suffered such trauma but as far I know law enforcement does not ask the proper questions. We do have nurses that conduct domestic violence exams but I don’t think they screen for concussions. Thank you for the information.” — Arlene
  • “This webinar was amazing. I was very interested in a policing perspective from an interviewing standpoint for victims and what to expect as signs and symptoms from someone suffering a concussion. I enjoyed the slide showing the signs and symptoms of a concussion-sensitivity to light, slurred speech, confusion etc.” — Ashley
  • “It is important that this topic is being discussed during the COVID-19 pandemic with the increase of Domestic violence. All those in the helping fields should be bringing this topic to the forefront. We should all be looking at the people we serve and ask questions about his/her physical and mental health. This includes children and juveniles. Child abuse is also on the rise during this time.” — Bridgette
  • “This webinar was packed with valuable information! Thank you again for another terrific webinar.” — Kathy
  • “Great information regarding new advances in technology to help victims obtain services as soon as possible. I appreciate the reminder, sometimes victims feel most comfortable talking with a victim advocate. Great examples in every day (i.e football, hitting on the floor, railing…) like of how people obtain brain injury and relating it to DV and intimate partner violence.” — Lezlie
  • “Excellent speaker and a great topic which is not often discussed in the context of IPV. Good pace. Very interesting! — Nathalie
  • “Great speaker, very knowledgeable. A very important topic and great job talking about how you are collaborating with police and offering practical tools to use.” — Sarah


Additional Resources
3 years ago
Statistics about Domestic Violence from Hilary Weinberg
Hilary Weinberg shared extraordinary information and statistics during her webinar, "Traumatic Brain […]
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More Statistics about Domestic Violence from Hilary Weinberg
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After the Webinar: Traumatic Brain Injury – It’s More than Just Football. Q&A with Hilary Weinberg
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