Hundreds of survivors of domestic violence have come through the doors of neurologist Glynnis Zieman's Phoenix clinic in the past three years.
"The domestic violence patients are the next chapter of brain injury," she says.
Zieman begins every new patient visit with a simple question: "What are the symptoms you hope I can help you with?"
For most, it's the first time anyone has ever asked even how they may have been injured in the first place. "I actually heard one patient tell me the only person who ever asked her if someone did this to her was a paramedic, as she was being wheeled into an ambulance," Zieman says. "And the husband was at the foot of her stretcher."
While many patients initially seek out the clinic because of physical symptoms, such as headaches, exhaustion, dizziness or problems sleeping, Zieman says her research shows anxiety, depression and PTSD usually end up being the most severe problems.
Studies of traumatic brain injury have revealed links to dementia and memory loss in veterans and athletes. And TBI has also been linked to PTSD in current or former service members.
Another group may be suffering, still largely in silence — survivors of domestic violence.
About 70 percent of people seen in the ER for such abuse are never actually identified as survivors of domestic violence. It's a health crisis cloaked in secrecy and shame, one that Zieman is uncovering through her work at the Barrow Concussion and Brain Injury Center.
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