Faculty work at intersection of domestic violence and traumatic brain injury

DePaul Newsline

Loss of memory. Trouble concentrating. Unstable mood.
More and more, professional football players have spoken up about suffering these symptoms after sustaining repeated concussions. Neuroscientist Dorothy Kozlowski at DePaul University has been researching traumatic brain injury for years and has led local efforts to help kids protect their brains while playing sports. So when she heard a colleague mention that he does similar work with victims of domestic violence in Arizona, “bells went off” for Kozlowski.
“Survivors themselves don’t equate some of the issues they’re having with memory or emotionality with the fact that they probably suffered traumatic brain injury in some way,” says Kozlowski, a Vincent de Paul Professor of Biological Sciences and director of DePaul’s neuroscience program, adding, “Individuals who suffer from domestic violence also have a high propensity for concussions.”

Faculty organized a February conference on traumatic brain injury and domestic violence, and some 120 people attended, including social workers, law enforcement and local health care workers. (DePaul University/Jamie Moncrief)

To take action, Kozlowski teamed up with faculty members Sonya Crabtree-Nelson in the Department of Social Work and game designer Doris Rusch in the College of Computing and Digital Media. They earned an Academic Initiatives Program grant from DePaul to raise awareness in Chicago about the intersection of traumatic brain injury and domestic violence. In February, they organized a conference that drew some 120 people into packed sessions, including local police, health care providers, social workers and attorneys.
“It was really a diverse group of individuals who care about victims of interpersonal violence,” Kozlowski says.
One of the keynote speakers was Jonathan Lifshitz from the University of Arizona College of Medicine, who described how the Phoenix area has implemented screening and care for traumatic brain injury across law enforcement, health care and domestic violence agencies. The big takeaway? Start small, says Crabtree-Nelson, who worked for many years as …

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