Women's Shelter Partners with UBCO to Study Concussions

The Kelowna Women's Shelter and UBCO are working together to study the impact of traumatic brain injuries.

Through the partnership, scientists are granted access to victims of intimate partner violence for testing.

"Probably, many of the women that we're working with have experienced a traumatic brain injury, if not multiple traumatic brain injuries." said the Executive Director of Kelowna Women's Shelter Karen Mason. "And yet we did not have the resources nor the knowledge to really provide them the supports they need to move forward."

While concussion research around athletes has expanded dramatically over the last two decades, the subject is under-researched when it comes to victims of abuse.

"We can definitely build off some of the research from the sports concussion literature. The difference is that, in this population, quite often there are also other things going on." said Dr. Paul Van Donkelaar. "Things like post-traumatic stress disorder or depression or anxiety may also be much more likely to have an impact on this population than they would in young athletes who've had a sports concussion."

A key element of the shelter's approach to supporting women is based on understanding the effects of trauma they will have experienced. According to Mason, the lack of fact-based research on traumatic brain injuries makes it difficult to address.

"It's really important to get the scientific data to say how often this is happening" said Mason. "Without that real hard data and evidence based knowledge, it's really hard to prove your point and make people pay attention."

She’s hopeful that further study will reveal the scope of the problem, to create better outcomes for women fleeing violence.