The punch-drunk boxer and the battered wife: Gender and brain injury research

Stephen T.Caspera & KellyO'Donnell

In 1990 a letter appeared in The Lancet: “A 76-year-old woman was admitted to hospital unconscious after being found at home with multiple injuries. She had rib fractures, multiple bruises and abrasions to the head, and signs of left-sided weakness. She had a history of a stroke and had become demented over the past few years, this manifesting predominantly as memory loss and mental confusion. Relatives told us that her husband had been violent towards her for many years, particularly in relation to his drinking, and the patient had often been seen with cuts and bruises.”

The letter, titled “Dementia in a Punch-Drunk Wife,” was followed by a post-mortem description of a battered woman with a pathology found in deceased boxers with chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The Lancet connected two patient populations—boxers and victims of intimate partner violence—together for the first time