Brain injury rampant among domestic violence survivors, study says

PHOENIX – Researchers in Phoenix have released a study showing traumatic brain injury is rampant among domestic violence survivors, particularly women in homeless shelters. 

They have released some shocking statistics about how often and how badly the survivors are injured and how this affects their cognitive ability. 

Debbie Davenport needs help navigating through her day. She has trouble with balance after a lifetime of head trauma that started when she was seven. 

"I've had at least 70, more blows to the head or had my head slammed down to the cement or into walls," Davenport said. 

She was part of a brain trauma study in Phoenix spearheaded by Dr. Glynnis Zieman and social worker Ashley Bridwell.

Of 115 homeless women studied, 88 percent had too many blows to the head to count and 81 percent had lost consciousness at least once. Few saw a doctor. 

"You start looking at these cases and you have to ask yourself, you know, how many of these people were failing, "failing" as a result of the cognitive impairment," Bridwell said.

"Although it is a difficult challenge at the very beginning when patients have a lot of symptoms that have been longstanding, there really are ways to improve people's lives," Zieman said.

With help, Davenport has turned her life around. 

"I've learned that I'm strong enough to take care of myself. I'm strong enough to know where it came from and to tell people 'no,'" Davenport said.

Zieman and Bridwell didn't find the results surprising because they see the results of repeated concussions every day, but they want to educate others about what's happening.