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Metro Phoenix 602.244.0089 602.889.1610 (TDD)
 
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CRISIS NUMBERS

Metro Phoenix

602.244.0089

602.889.1610 (TDD)

Out of Town

888.886.8793

888.886.8794 (TDD)

BRAIN Program

The Care Gap

Brought to greater awareness by athletes and veterans returning from war, traumatic brain injury (TBI) has only recently been linked to the disability and death of domestic violence victims.

Early studies indicate that up to 67% of domestic violence victims screened for TBIs demonstrate post-concussion or possible TBI symptoms (Corrigan, Wolfe, Mysiw, Jackson & Bogner, 2001). The physical effects can long outlast the immediate crisis, impacting decision-making, education, and ability to work.

Despite these long-term repercussions, domestic violence facilities and the field at large are not, in large part, addressing the needs of women and children experiencing TBIs. Domestic Violence centers’ staff are largely untrained to recognize, screen or treat such issues. Women and children suffering from TBIs often find it difficult to adhere to the programming rules and participation required by most shelter environments.

Our Solution

Sojourner Center seeks to partner with schools, clinics or departments to screen, treat, and research TBIs.

Working with Sojourner Center’s Department of Quality Assurance, Research and Evaluation the BRAIN Program will engage in and publish research exploring the correlation between TBIs and domestic violence. Efforts will include the study of abusers who suffer from TBIs to identify potential links to violent acts, such as impulse control. Sojourner Center will implement personalized treatment programs for abused women and children, as well as abusers.

Best practices developed through this work will become scalable, national models of care. Training and education programs will equip Sojourner Center staff and other domestic violence, healthcare, and cross-discipline professionals with the tools needed to care for this vulnerable population.

Key Statistics

A study of women in domestic violence shelters found that:

  • An estimated 92% reported their partners hit them in the head more than once
  • Up to 83% reported being both hit in the head and severely shaken
  • Approximately 8% surveyed said they were hit in the head over 20 times in the past year

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F.A.Q

Q: What is the Sojourner BRAIN Program?
A: The Sojourner BRAIN Program is a first-of-its-kind effort to lead the domestic violence field in developing a body of knowledge regarding the incidence, presentation, profile and characteristics, short- and long-term effects, and treatment of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in a population largely unrecognized and rarely talked about—women and children impacted by domestic violence.

In addition to creating a meaningful database, and assessing and treating TBI at Sojourner Center, the Sojourner BRAIN Program will inform and share standards of care, procedures, protocols and clinical practices with other domestic violence and social service providers, neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians and other professionals. Clinical internships and residency opportunities will further extend the impact of the collaborative beyond the walls of Sojourner Center.

Q: What does BRAIN stand for?
A: The BRAIN acronym stands for Brain Recovery And Inter-professional Neuroscience. This description best encompasses the comprehensive, collaborative and healing work focused on the mind and brain that will take place within the Sojourner BRAIN program.

Q: What is Traumatic Brain Injury?
A: Traumatic brain injury occurs when an external force causes brain dysfunction. Traumatic brain injury usually results from a violent blow to the head or body or an object penetrating the skull.
Mild traumatic brain injury may cause temporary dysfunction of brain cells. More serious traumatic brain injury can result in bruising, torn tissues, bleeding and other physical damage to the brain that can result in long-term complications or death. It can also be caused by strangulation.

Q: Why is the Sojourner BRAIN Program needed?
A: The Sojourner BRAIN Program will be the first world-class institute dedicated to the research and treatment of TBI in women and children living with domestic violence, a largely unrecognized public health issue. Much like professional football players and U.S. combat troops, women and children impacted by domestic violence are far more likely than the general public to have sustained TBIs. According to a survey of women in domestic violence shelters, an estimated 92 percent of women had suffered a TBI causal event, and nearly 1 in 10 had been struck in the head more than 20 times in the previous year. Domestic violence facilities and the field at large are not addressing the needs of women and children experiencing TBIs. Shelter staff are largely untrained to recognize, screen or treat such issues.

Q: What activities will take place at the Sojourner BRAIN Program?
A: A preliminary pilot study will test the feasibility of TBI screening in this population including the participant’s ability to complete the assessments and willingness to undergo therapy and management for any neurological symptoms detected. The research component of the Sojourner BRAIN Program will systematically study the correlation between domestic violence and traumatic brain injuries—including not only those who have been victims, but those who inflict the damage. It will also develop innovative screening programs for TBI that can be implemented at Sojourner Center and that can be a blueprint for other domestic violence service provides. Another goal is to develop first-rate TBI treatment programs for both the abused and the abuser.

While the Sojourner BRAIN Program will focus on TBIs, another area of interest will focus on understanding the cognitive, somatic and emotional neurological symptoms of TBI and its associated disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse.

Q: When will the Sojourner BRAIN Program open?
A: The Sojourner BRAIN Program and its partners will use the results of the pilot study to begin screening all participants for TBI during the intake process at Sojourner Center beginning in late 2015. The preliminary study will test the feasibility of TBI screening in this population including the participants’ ability to complete the assessments and willingness to undergo therapy and management for any neurological symptoms detected.

Q: How does the Sojourner BRAIN Program fit into the organization’s strategic plan?
A: The Sojourner BRAIN Program is a key strategic initiative supporting a robust Circle of Care approach launched in 2014 to strengthen Sojourner Center’s core programs and services to provide more effective treatment for women, families and unique populations who are affected by domestic violence. The long-term goal moves beyond shelter toward prevention and seeks to engage all sectors of society to bend, break, and end the cycle of abuse and domestic violence in society.

Q: How is the Sojourner BRAIN Program funded?
A: Grants from a variety of foundation sources and philanthropically minded individuals will provide the initial funding needed for the launch of the Sojourner BRAIN Program.

Q: Where can people go for more information about the Sojourner BRAIN Program?
A: For more information about the Sojourner BRAIN Program and Sojourner Center please contact: communications@sojournercenter.org. Others interested in learning how they can support the Sojourner BRAIN Program or get involved with Sojourner Center can contact Katie Jensen, Director of Advancement via e-mail at give@sojournercenter.org or by calling (602) 296-3389.

Key Statistics

A study of women in domestic violence shelters found that:

  • An estimated 92% reported their partners hit them in the head more than once
  • Up to 83% reported being both hit in the head and severely shaken
  • Approximately 8% surveyed said they were hit in the head over 20 times in the past year

Sign Up for our BRAIN Newsletter