The Women Who Face More Traumatic Brain Injury Than NFL Players
Thirty years ago, Kerri Walker, now a coordinator for a domestic violence shelter in Phoenix, found herself inexplicably driving down the left side of the road into oncoming traffic. “It felt totally normal,” she said, recalling how she was oblivious to the danger. Walker escaped an accident that day, but looking back now, it was the first clue she had an undiagnosed brain injury.
At the time, Walker, 51, was in the throes of an abusive relationship, she said. She estimated that over a 2 1/2-year period, she was hit in the head around 15 times — once with a gun — and violently shaken.
“I had major headaches, and every now and then I would have these moments when I would get dizzy and disoriented,” Walker said. But she didn’t connect her symptoms to the assaults until a year later, when a doctor at Geauga Medical Center in Ohio diagnosed her with traumatic brain injury, or TBI. “When you are in a relationship with that much trauma and violence, you don’t know what’s physical or what’s emotional or mental,” she said.
… .If that number bears out, it would mean 6 percent of the population experiences domestic violence-related TBI each year.
Compare that with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s estimate that 1.7 million people experience TBI every year, and 2 percent of the population, or 5.3 million Americans, are living with a disability caused by it.