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Collaboration and research needed to tackle “hidden impact”

Domestic abuse and brain injury experts must work more closely together to better support people seriously injured in abusive relationships at home.

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That is according to a new UK paper which also highlights the “critical need” for further research into the prevalence, impact and causality of brain injuries in domestic abuse survivors.

Other recommendations in the Disabilities Trust report include further research and development of  sensitive, and “trauma-informed” brain injury screening methods, that are appropriate for use with domestic abuse survivors. Also, more brain injury-related training and awareness-raising initiatives are required for all professionals who engage with survivors.

The discussion paper, ‘Brain injury and Domestic Abuse: An Invisible Impact’, calls for a rethink about the support provided to women who have experienced domestic abuse – and that significant consideration is given to the substantial impact of traumatic brain injury commonly sustained through blows to the head or strangulation.

The paper is the result of a roundtable discussion the charity held at the end of last year, which brought together academics and representatives from domestic abuse charities and the NHS to explore links between domestic abuse and brain injury.

The debate followed the publishing of The Trust’s earlier findings of the link between traumatic brain injury (TBI), domestic abuse and female offending.

After a two-year study at HMP/YOI Drake Hall, the Disabilities Trust found nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of women reported having experienced a brain injury. The leading cause of brain injury reported by women was domestic abuse (62 per cent).

From these findings, an additional analysis examined the link between brain injury and domestic abuse, to develop an understanding of the specific needs of these women. Key findings included:

  • 72 per cent reported violence as the cause of their brain injury
  • 61 per cent of those with a brain injury caused by domestic violence reported having self-harmed, compared to women who reported other causes of brain injury (29 per cent)
  • Of those with a traumatic brain injury, 40 per cent had a mental health diagnosis, and women with a brain injury were seven times more likely to have a mental health diagnosis than those without

Alongside other frequently reported factors, such as substance misuse and unstable housing, the need to support women holistically, not just within the Criminal Justice System, is fundamental to improving these women’s lives, the study said.

Additionally, in its 2019 published annual report, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Domestic Violence and Abuse, recommended that all frontline healthcare staff are trained in understanding violence against women and girls.

It also recommended advanced training for professionals who are in frequent contact with survivors, and that domestic abuse and sexual violence are secured as a strategic priority across the health and social care sector.

At a time when some domestic violence charities have reported a 10-fold increase in visits to their website, it is hoped that the findings will open a discussion with Government, and the wider sector, to support the needs of women who have experiences both brain injury and domestic abuse.

Irene Sobowale, CEO of The Disabilities Trust, said: “The briefing further evidences the distressing and traumatic lives of women who have experienced both domestic abuse and brain injury and their increased vulnerability.

“By publishing this discussion paper from the expert roundtable, we hope to explore ways in which we can work together to better support these women and encourage change at the highest level.”

Read more on domestic abuse and brain injury here.

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Legal

Video: everyday vs specialist tech

Assistive technology Expert Andy Fell joins Irwin Mitchell law firm for an in-depth exploration of the very latest independence-boosting devices and platforms.

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Technology plays a day to day role in our lives and mobile phones, tablets, Alexa and Siri are common place.

Imagine the impact on your life if you were no longer able to interact with a touch screen or keyboard or give voice commands….

In this virtual event, Assistive Technology expert Andy Fell gives practical demonstrations of how everyday technology and specialist technology can be used to help give independence to those who need it most and why specialist technology may be needed.

During the event hosted by Lauren Haas, personal injury solicitor at Irwin Mitchell LLP, Andy goes into detail about what apps and gadgets are on the market, how everyday technology can be optimised such as the Amazon Alexa, and answered a number of questions ranging from touch screen sensitivity to smart watch reminders.

Case managers, ancillary medical professionals, as well as interested members in healthcare, social care, parents and clients may find this recording useful, as well as anyone caring for, working or living with people such as dementia sufferers or sufferers of other conditions which restrict their mobility.

Andy Fell is an independent disability and assistive technology (AT) consultant with almost twenty years’ experience working with all disabilities and age groups.

He is a qualified Rehabilitation Officer for the Visually Impaired and, since qualification, has lectured on the use of assistive technology and role of AT in the life of disabled people.

He has worked with a wide range of charitable organisations including British Dyslexia Association, was head of assistive technology for Guide Dogs for the Blind and National Disability Advisor for the Royal Yacht Association.

He has also worked for blue chip companies, the emergency services and various government departments including Department for Work and Pensions.

Andy is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, chairman and founding trustee of the Wetwheels Foundation and sat on the British Dyslexia Association – Workplace Assessors Professional Review Panel.

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The relationship between music and running

By Daniel Thomas, joint managing director of Chroma Therapies.

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By Daniel Thomas, joint managing director of Chroma Therapies

With its ability to produce new neural pathways, Neurologic Music Therapy is able to encourage movement, co-ordination, improve speech and language, and improve the ability to read/feel emotions, reactions and more, in people living with catastrophic injuries.

This is because music automatically connects to the brain. And this automaticity is what makes music so powerful.

Music also has to ability to push your training capabilities farther and faster especially in running.

This is why a running playlist is the ideal accompaniment to any runner.

Each songs tempo stimulates the brain, evoking a running response of either a faster pace or a steady rhythm depending on what you want to achieve.

For a faster pace, a good running playlist should contain songs with 150-180bpm.

Unfortunately, with not many songs out there using that speed (unless you enjoy rock, metal or speed garage for running) than the other option is to choose songs with 75-90bpm, as this tempo is perfect for a steady rhythm and maximising efficiency.

Do you recall an earlier blog where we discussed cadence and stride length using NMT for preventing falls in the elderly?

We suggested music with a high bpm count promotes movement, good cadence and walking speed, so songs like Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots are Made for Walkin’, which has 85 bpm, is ideal.

BPM strongly correlates to step cadence.

Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation (RAS) is an important aspect of NMT.

Predictable rhythmic structure allows the sensori-motor system to move in sync with the beat.

This is, in essence, why music is important to runners, as it has the ability to communicate with the brain in order to help maintain a steady pace or increase speed depending on the bpm.

When it comes to mental wellbeing, we will always discuss music’s ability to improve mental wellbeing, and its effect can also be attributed to runners.

Music’s ability to improve stride, cadence and style, to produce better and better runs, and enable runners to achieve personal goals also have a positive effect upon mental wellbeing.

A sense of accomplishment. And with the right playlist, runners can end each run on a high.

We also like to discuss how NMT is more effective when it is personalised to that individual.

The same can be said in the case of a runner. A playlist that includes, not only songs with the ideal tempo for them, but also have some personal meaning, have the greatest positive effect upon runners.

The more enjoyable the run, the less fatigue is experienced. This may be due to the fact that music is able to interfere with the parts of the brain that communicate fatigue, essentially causing a distraction, so less fatigue is experienced.

For runners, the relationship between music and running can be seen to be just as effective and important as the relationship between music and recovering from a brain injury.

Its ability to improve running capability, speed, motivation, and promote mental wellbeing is what makes the difference between a run just being a run and reaching ‘Flow State’ – the mental state where the runner is in the moment of running – no distractions, and the run becomes…euphoric.

Read more: Running in the name of mental health

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News

Concussion could lead to depression, ADHD, dementia and Parkinson’s – study

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A new study has revealed a link between concussion and the risk of being diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, mood and anxiety disorders, dementia and Parkinson’s disease later in life.

Despite ‘clinical recovery’ from concussion typically lasting one week, a team of researchers from the University of Manitoba suspected there may be longer term effects. They used 25 years of population-based health data between 1990 and 2015, involving almost 50,000 cases of concussion from people living in Manitoba, Canada.

They found that concussion was associated with an increased risk of being diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), mood and anxiety disorders (MADs), dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

After analysing the population data, they found that concussion was linked to an increased risk of diagnosis of ADHD, dementia and Parkinson’s.

Women who had a concussion were at greater risk of developing ADHD and MADs, but there were no differences between men and women for the risk of developing dementia or Parkinson’s.

Multiple concussions didn’t affect the risk of later being diagnosed with ADHD, but a second concussion increased the risk of dementia, while exposure to more than three concussions increased the risk of being diagnosed with MADs.

While previous studies have found links between concussion and ADHD, dementia, Parkinson’s and MADs, most have relied on patients self-reporting their symptoms, the researchers write.

However, this study can only show an association, not cause and effect.

The mechanism behind this increased risk is unknown, but the researchers state it’s possible that the pathways of some biomarkers that are dysregulated in ADHD, Mads, dementia and Parkinson’s, namely, cortisol, are also affected after a concussion.

The paper, published in the BMJ journal, states that future research is needed to explore the relationships between concussion and ADHD, MADs, dementia and Parkinson’s in other populations.

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