Patients should be asked about abuse by neurologists

Patients should be asked about abuse by neurologists

By Liz Lockhart

The American Academy of Neurology has issued a new position statement which calls on neurologists to start to screen their patients for abuse and violence from family members, care providers or others.

This statement can be found online on Neurology, the medical journal of the American academy of Neurology.

The types of abuse which should be screened for are elder abuse, sexual abuse, child abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, violence, bullying and cyber bullying.

Elliott A. Schulman MD., of Lankenau Medical Centre, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology said ‘Neurologists see patients with neurologic disorders that may make them more susceptible to abuse or neglect.  They also see patients with neurologic issues that may be either directly or indirectly related to mistreatment.’

Head, face and neck region injuries resulting from an intimate partner account for more than 90% of all such cases and these can lead to traumatic brain injury, the position statement states.  High risk categories for abuse and neglect are those with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or stroke victims.

Schulman adds ‘By routinely asking about violence and abuse, the neurologist increases the opportunity for both identifying on-going abuse and intervening when appropriate.  In addition to further physical and emotional harm, consequences of not asking about abuse might include failure of treatments and, when children are exposed to abuse, perpetuation of the cycle of abuse from generation to generation.’

Ten principles of intervention by neurologists when meeting patients, beginning with integrating questions about abuse into the medical history and routinely screening all patients for past and on-going violence, are outlined by the position statement.

Free training is being offered by The Academy to members who are interested in finding out how to address domestic violence issues within their communities. 

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