Brain injury a 'significant' issue for women who survive violence, but most research focuses on men

About 500,000 Canadians have dementia, according to the Alzheimer's Society of Toronto, and researchers would like to know if traumatic brain injury causes it to progress more quickly.

About 500,000 Canadians have dementia, according to the Alzheimer's Society of Toronto, and researchers would like to know if traumatic brain injury causes it to progress more quickly. (Hayden Bird/iStock )Between 30 and 80 percent of women who survive intimate partner violence may have a traumatic brain injury — but there's almost no research into how such an injury specifically affects women, according to Angela Colantonio, who helps lead an international task force on girls and women with acquired brain injury.

"It's been a very neglected field," said Colantonio, who is also director of the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute at the University of Toronto.

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Angela Colantonio, a scientist at the University of Toronto, studies the effects of acquired brain injuries on girls and women. (Submitted by Angela Colantonio)

"We are just starting to research how women's bodies are different in terms of brain injury, and what the implications are for care," she said.  

"One injury that is specifically neglected is the injury of women in an intimate-partner violence context."

Repeated blows

When women are abused, Colantonio said, "up to 92 percent of the hits are to the head," meaning women suffer repeated injuries that are associated with a wide constellation of long-term effects.

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