Concussion Research at Barrow Brain Injury & Sports Neurology Center

Concussion Research at Barrow Brain Injury & Sports Neurology Center

Help Barrow provide patients from all walks of life with exceptional concussion and TBI research, treatment and care

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Concussions are the most common type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), can cause serious impairments if not treated properly. Studies on professional athletes found even slight blows to the head, when repeated often enough, can result in long-term neurodegenerative disease. But these injuries are not limited to only athletes playing at the top level of their sport.

Recently, there has been increasing concern about the safety of student athletes, many of whom sustain at least one concussion per year and may not know the dangers of letting a head injury go unreported or untreated. Another, often overlooked, population prone to repeated concussions are survivors of domestic violence. Even after leaving their abusers, these individuals often lack access to proper medical care to treat their TBI symptoms.

Group 473

Clinical research findings were staggering

0 81% of 115 domestic violence patients suffered “too many head injuries to count”
0 Only 21% of patients sought medical care at the time of at least one of their injuries
0 60% of people who suffered domestic violence as a child went on to be abused as adults
Concussion patient and doctor

Leading TBI Facility for Athletes and Domestic Violence Survivors

The Barrow Brain Injury & Sports Neurology Center at Barrow Neurological Institute, led by Glynnis Zieman, MD, FAAN, provides comprehensive treatment for patients with concussion and TBI. The team offers the same level of expert care to domestic violence survivors as it does to professional athletes. The Center is also home to novel concussion outreach and education programs for youth athletes.

See what we achieved in research and patient care last year by downloading the FY23 Concussion and Brain Injury Stewardship Report below.

Donations help support critical patient care for survivors of domestic violence

The Barrow Brain Injury & Sports Neurology Center’s mission is to help as many patients as possible by preventing and treating concussions and traumatic brain injuries. They strive to offer every patient the right treatments and tools to overcome their injuries, regain their health, and start living their lives to the fullest. Thanks to generous gifts from our donors and grant funding, the Domestic Violence Brain Injury Program is able to provide these services for victims of domestic abuse regardless of their financial situation or insurance coverage.


Training the Next Generation of Leading Brain Specialists

In addition to providing comprehensive clinical care, the Barrow Brain Injury & Sports Neurology Center emphasizes concussion treatment and prevention through three main pillars: education, outreach, and research. To expand its expertise to more patients, the Center offers a fellowship in sports neurology with extensive training in the diagnosis and management of TBI.

Barrow is one of only two non-federal institutions in the United States that provides concussion and brain injury treatment for domestic violence victims. It is also one of only seven institutions in the country that offers a fellowship in sports neurology with extensive training in the diagnosis and management of concussions and traumatic brain injuries. Through a collaboration with Arizona State University, Barrow fellows have the unique opportunity to participate in sideline concussion care for women’s soccer, women’s lacrosse, men’s football, and men’s hockey.

A National Leader in Concussion Outreach and Education for Youth

The Barrow Brain Injury & Sports Neurology Center is committed to providing comprehensive concussion education, so Arizona student-athletes can safely play the sports they love. To address growing concerns about concussions in student-athletes, the Center formed the Barrow Concussion Network, a collaboration between Barrow, A.T. Still University, the Arizona Interscholastic League (AIA), and the Arizona Cardinals, to provide concussion outreach programs.

Student-Athlete Outreach Programs

Barrow Brainbook

The concussion education course helps high school student-athletes understand how a concussion affects the brain, possible symptoms, and why it is important to seek treatment. It is required for all Arizona Interscholastic League (AIA) athletes.

Neurocognitive Baseline Testing

Each year, high school athletes receive testing to determine their baseline number, which is used as a reference to measure the extent of a concussion and to determine the proper recovery time.

Second Opinion Telemedicine Platform

Certified athletic trainers and coaches can communicate with a Barrow neurologist to help assess an athlete’s injury. They can connect via a secure online portal in real time, right on the sidelines of a game.

Continuing Education for Sports Coaches

Barrow provides advanced education and training for coaches and athletic directors on concussion detection and prevention.

Providing Hope and Tools for Domestic Violence Survivors to Reclaim Their Lives

The first-of-its-kind Domestic Violence Brain Injury Program, led by Glynnis Zieman, MD, provides compassionate care to survivors of domestic violence with TBI, giving them both the tools and the confidence to reclaim their lives.

The Program focuses on addressing cognitive issues that domestic violence survivors often experience, including headaches, vision changes, memory deficits, and mental health concerns. The Program also offers speech therapy sessions and partners with local shelters to provide Brains Club, a cognitive retraining workshop designed specifically for survivors of domestic violence with TBI. Additionally, it provides in-person training on TBI symptoms to shelter staff and offers a virtual course for primary care providers on how to recognize signs of TBI in patients who have experienced domestic abuse.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the nation saw a sharp rise in the number of cases of domestic abuse, highlighting the critical need for more awareness about this devastating reality. In spring 2022, the New York Times Magazine featured Barrow’s Domestic Violence Brain Injury Program in a story about the hidden epidemic of traumatic brain injuries caused by domestic violence.

The story details the journey of a woman who was repeatedly abused by her partner for over 20 years. When she finally left him to begin a life of her own, she struggled with debilitating symptoms of traumatic brain injury. Then, she found the Domestic Violence Brain Injury Program at Barrow. Here, doctors accurately diagnosed the extent of her brain injuries and provided a range of treatments, including psychotherapy, occupational therapy, and cognitive-speech therapy. Today, this brave woman is taking community college classes and hopes to build a career helping other women who have gone through similar situations as hers.

The team realizes how difficult it is to leave an abusive relationship and begin a new life. They found that, like the woman in the New York Times Magazine story, many survivors of domestic violence suffer from a full spectrum of symptoms related to their brain injury that do much more than just damage their health. These side effects can lead to the loss of a jobs, income, and eventually their home. That is why the Domestic Violence Brain Injury Program focuses on treatments and strategies that address cognitive issues survivors of domestic violence may be experiencing, including headaches, dizziness, vision changes, memory deficits, and limitations in language abilities.

Dr. Javier Cardenas discusses brain injury with Christian Kirk

On the Horizon

The Center plans to launch an updated version of Barrow Brainbook, which will be available in a mobile-friendly format and will reflect current trends in concussion education, focusing on overall brain health, repeated head impact, recognizing the signs and symptoms of a concussion, and keeping an eye out for teammates. Barrow Brainbook 3.0 will be available for the world to see when the Super Bowl comes to Arizona on February 12, 2023.

The Domestic Violence Brain Injury Program plans to expand its services outside of local shelters by partnering with Native American communities across Arizona, as well as an organization that helps teens who have just aged out of the foster care system. The Program also plans to expand its research efforts and has several studies underway to evaluate the scope of head injuries sustained by domestic violence survivors and the effectiveness of interventions. Additionally, the Program is in the process of obtaining a copyright for the Brains Club curriculum so it can provide the workshop to other shelters nationwide.