Who can count how many blows to the head Muhammad Ali suffered on his way to 56 major titles? And don’t forget the thousands of hours spent sparring in the gym.
At least boxers know what they are risking. Victims of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) don’t see it coming. I can’t imagine many brides-to-be receive protective head gear at their wedding showers.
Not every blow will lead to a concussion. Most concussions are mild and with treatment patients fully recover. But – the effect of multiple concussions over time remains significant and can result in long-term neurological and functional deficits. In other words, one small concussion after another can do permanent damage.
Head injuries are common among IPV victims, and, like boxers, blows to the head are repeated over time. Even mild injuries may accumulate into major impairments, like the untreated stress fracture that ultimately leads to a broken bone. Batterers who assault their partners do so repeatedly.
- 92% had been hit in the head by their partners, most more than once.
- 83% had been both hit in the head and severely shaken.
- 8% of them had been hit in the head over 20 times in the past year.
Ironically, the injuries caused by their batterers may add even more barriers to escaping. Victims must be at their most alert and decisive when preparing to leave. Of the total number of homicides resulting from intimate partner violence, roughly 75% of those killed are killed as they tried to leave or after they had left.
The debilitating effects of head trauma make escape even more dangerous. How can a victim who is having difficulty processing information develop and follow an escape plan? People with brain injuries often suffer extreme physical fatigue yet the victim must move quickly. If s/he has children they may need to carry them. And those are just some of the cognitive disabilities. Imagine trying to escape despite persistent and severe headaches or blurred vision.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1.7 million people sustain some form of head trauma each year. With common sense we can prevent them if we wear helmets while riding our bicycles and motorcycles. High tech football and military helmets are reducing the incidence and severity of head injuries.
Victims of IPV obviously try to avoid head injuries, but victims wear sunglasses and heavy, heavy make up for a reason. We have all seen the pictures of women trying to hide black eyes and bruised jaws. And so, like boxers, they have to take it on the chin.
As for Ali, he is suffering with an illness medically linked to previous brain injury – Parkinson’s Disease.