Is There A Connection Between TBIs and Violence?

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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a medical condition that occurs because of experiencing a jolt or blow to one’s head. It can affect one’s physical, neurological, and/ or emotional functioning. The specific symptoms that develop because of a TBI will vary significantly, as they depend on the type of injury, the severity of the injury, as well as the area of the brain that was injured. For some individuals, a TBI may only affect the exact location on the brain where the injury occurred, while for others a TBI could also affect surrounding tissues and cause damage to one’s brain in other areas apart from the initial site. The Lancet Psychiatry explains “TBI compromises important neurological functions for self-regulation and social behavior and increases risk of behavioral disorder and psychiatric morbidity.” The nature of the symptoms will also vary as some TBI symptoms may appear immediately and dissipate rather quickly, while others could present several days or weeks later, and some experienced symptoms may evolve over time. Research has indicated that there is a connection between TBIs and violence.

TBIs and Violence

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines violence as “the use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage, or destroy.” The connection between TBI and violence is complicated because violence is not only a cause, but also a consequence of TBI. An eight-year study from the University of Michigan School of Public Health found “young people who have sustained a head injury during their lifetime are more likely to engage in violent behavior.” It is not uncommon for TBI survivors to experience aggression. Post-TBI aggressive behavior includes explosive behavior instigated by minimal provocation that occurs without warning. Episodes of aggression can range in severity from exhibiting irritability to engaging in destructive behaviors. A Brainline article titled, Breaking the Silence: Violence as a Cause and a Consequence of Traumatic Brain Injury, addresses the fact that TBI-related cognitive and behavioral problems can lead to aggressive behavior, which subsequently perpetrates violence. There is no doubt that there is a connection between TBIs and violence, and it is essential to increase awareness among TBI and health care professionals about the overlap. 

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