Neurologists Should Screen Patients for Abuse: Experts

People with certain disorders might be more vulnerable to violence, says American Academy of Neurology

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Neurologists should screen their patients for abuse by family members, caregivers or other people, the American Academy of Neurology says in a new position statement.

Problems to look for include elder, sexual, child, financial and emotional abuse; bullying, cyberbullying and violence.

Certain neurologic disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease or stroke, may raise the risk for abuse and neglect, the academy said.

The statement outlines 10 principles for neurologists to use when meeting with patients. These include integrating questions about abuse into a patient's medical history and routinely checking patients for past and ongoing violence.

The academy is also offering free training to members interested in learning how to deal with domestic violence issues in their communities.

"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," statement lead author Dr. Elliott Schulman, of Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood, Penn., said in an academy news release.

More than 90 percent of all injuries caused by intimate partner violence occur to the head, face or neck and can result in traumatic brain injury, according to the statement.

It also noted that people with neurologic disorders such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease may be at increased risk for abuse and neglect.

"By routinely asking about violence and abuse, the neurologist increases the opportunity for both identifying ongoing abuse and intervening when appropriate," Schulman said. "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."

The statement appears Jan. 25 in the online issue of the journal Neurology.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about domestic abuse.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, Jan. 18, 2012

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