Home vi­o­lence a cause of brain in­jury

Pilbara News - - Opinion -

It is lit­tle known that brain in­jury is one of the lead­ing causes of dis­abil­ity in Aus­tralia, with one in 12 peo­ple liv­ing with ac­quired brain in­juries.

Vi­o­lence is one of the main causes of brain in­jury in WA. While men dom­i­nate the sta­tis­tics, ac­count­ing for 75 per cent of peo­ple di­ag­nosed with a brain in­jury, many women also re­ceive brain in­juries from do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

This is Brain In­jury Aware­ness Week and brain in­jury caused by fam­ily vi­o­lence is an is­sue that needs com­mu­nity at­ten­tion.

Ev­i­dence sug­gests many women in phys­i­cally abu­sive re­la­tion­ships are at risk of re­ceiv­ing brain in­juries.

One third of women who are vic­tims of fam­ily vi­o­lence will sus­tain head trauma.

But in many cases, women are not even aware that they may have sus­tained a brain in­jury.

Their im­me­di­ate con­cern is on the vis­i­ble signs of the abuse and many don’t re­alise that poor short-term mem­ory, ir­ri­tabil­ity or de­pres­sion may be a sign of brain in­jury.

Be­cause of the na­ture of on­go­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, over time re­peated brain in­juries can lead to a range of in­creased cog­ni­tive, phys­i­cal and emo­tional dis­abil­i­ties, or per­son­al­ity or be­havioural changes.

There is a strong link be­tween brain in­jury and men­tal health dif­fi­cul­ties.

Peo­ple with brain in­juries are more likely to be es­tranged from friends and fam­ily. They are also more at risk of be­ing un­em­ployed, home­less or in­volved with the jus­tice sys­tem.

Early in­ter­ven­tion ser­vices aimed at re­duc­ing vi­o­lence and sup­port­ing in­di­vid­u­als who ex­pe­ri­ence fam­ily and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence are crit­i­cal.

In­creased aware­ness of the causes, signs and ef­fects of brain in­jury are also es­sen­tial to help lessen the in­ci­dence of brain in­jury in WA, and to help peo­ple ac­cess ap­pro­pri­ate sup­port.

In the cur­rent cli­mate, where cuts to Gov­ern­ment fund­ing for com­mu­nity ser­vices seem to be the norm, vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple are even more at risk. Surely preven­tion is best. Tracy Foulds, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive, Head­west Brain In­jury As­so­ci­a­tion of WA Inc.

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