Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) are now widely recognized as a serious consequence for athletes who suffer concussions. Unfortunately, domestic violence survivors are also victims of this serious condition but without the widespread acknowledgment. Unlike athletes, many survivors report having multiple incidents occur, sometimes so many that they have lost count, and are not given the opportunity to rest and recover afterward.
TBIs are invisible and can often result in cognitive, behavioral and physical symptoms. According to the HELPS Screening Tool for TBIs, the most common symptoms are headaches, fatigue, loss of memory, depression, and communication difficulty. Others include: Memory loss, difficulty concentrating or "thinking straight", challenges related to goal-setting and planning, anxiety, increased aggression and impatience, difficulty sleeping, change in temperament or personality, hearing loss, headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue.
If you are a survivor, know someone who is, are working with survivors, or are in a position to provide screenings, "HELPS" is a "helpful" tool that can help provide more information and a path forward for survivors who may have a TBI.
HELPS is an acronym for the most important questions to ask:
H = Were you hit in the head?
E = Did you seek emergency room treatment?
L = Did you lose consciousness? (Not everyone who suffers a TBI loses consciousness.)
P = Are you having problems with concentration and memory?
S = Did you experience sickness or other physical problems following the injury?
Interested in learning more about TBIs and domestic violence?