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Arizona officials to study concussions in domestic violence victims

(Flickr/JD Lasica)

PHOENIX — Concerns about concussions go far beyond the football field.

A multi-agency collaboration between Arizona law enforcement agencies, researchers and medical experts will study concussions in domestic violence victims.

A survey of three metropolitan departments found that 67 percent of women seeking medical care related to domestic violence had symptoms of concussions.

Starting next month, the Mesa Police Department will use handheld devices, on a voluntary basis, to measure concussion-related symptoms during the estimated 200 domestic violence calls the city gets each week.

“Our patrol officers are being trained on how to use a simple device, said Mesa Police Sgt. Mike Higbee. “A screening tool that the patrol officers will have access to for those who may suffered a concussion.”

The department is rolling out 45 of the devices that measure oculomotor, or eye tracking, data of domestic violence victims.

Another measurement will voluntarily be taken during the subsequent medical forensic exam. The exam only takes about a minute and is generally similar to a brief eye exam.

The data will then be passed to researchers.

Dr. Jonathan Lifshitz, a scientist at the University Of Arizona College Of Medicine, said the research could eventually help the understanding of concussions in other municipalities and states around the country.

“We’re going to be able to understand the scope by which individuals and victims of domestic are suffering from these traumatic brain injury signs and symptoms,” Lifshitz said. “As well as determine which tools are useful in the diagnosis, [and] which strategies are useful rehabilitation.”

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