Kim Gorgens: The surprising connection between brain injuries and crime
Kim Gorgens studies the brain's response to injury -- and advocates that we mind our (gray) matter. Full bio
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caused by an external blow to the head.
and professional athletes,
we're used to seeing on the playing field.
to define TBI in the public consciousness.
in retired and college athletes.
who researches and treats these injuries,
to see the growing awareness of TBI
and long-term risks to athletes.
to a larger but no less controversial
by traumatic brain injury,
these inmates and probationers
vulnerable members of society.
and I have been doing research
we think about the criminal justice system
you think about those things, too.
in criminal justice
in this room, for example,
getting your bell rung.
that require hospitalization.
of a physical assault,
are actually sustained in jail.
among the women in criminal justice.
in the criminal justice system
violence and abuse.
been exposed to repeated brain injuries.
like the brains of retired NFL players,
for dementing diseases as they age.
and substance abuse and trauma,
poor judgment and poor impulse control,
criminal justice a revolving door.
while they're in there.
They fall out of their bunk.
and do stupid things,
and they get rearrested.
to be rearrested than not.
a life sentence 30 days at a time."
why this is so hard for them.
of so many of these challenges,
has been to disrupt that cycle,
with my state and local partners,
to meet everyone's needs:
how each person's brain works
I mean safer not only for the inmates,
such a simple approach.
that gets people into all of this trouble
in the way an inmate thinks.
we write two reports.
on how to manage that inmate.
for how to manage themselves.
that a probationer has a hard time
to the court might suggest
of important information.
would say, among other things,
to record that information for themselves.
to be really clear about one point.
an inmate's problematic behavior
rather than outright defiance --
they want to know how to help themselves.
from Troy in Virginia,
of all the head traumas I've dealt with?
thousands of stories like this,
that have a great outcome.
spent more time in jail than in school.
significant memory impairments,
and reminder function on his iPhone
to break larger tasks
like that under his belt,
off of court supervision
a lot harder at it." (Laughs)
attention and behavior problems
for more than a month.
where he wasn't in trouble.
to avoid being held in contempt
into his day every day
at the front of the courtroom.
Judge Brian Bowen.
to make the system work for everyone,
he saw the perfect fit.
with all of his prosecutors
two categories of defendants
oftentimes, rightfully so --
all of their scheduled appointments
the best-laid probation plans.
with a little more support,
in this latter category,
Mike's history of a massive 70-foot fall
of difficulty showing up on the right day
therapy requirements, for example.
to more and more jail time,
with maps and checklists and handouts
for those therapies.
Mike's back to work
while he was in the service.
with his family,
Judge Bowen's veteran's court.
the overwhelming prevalence
and cognitive deficits
in the criminal justice system.
of resilience and responsibility.
by a change in perception
come to see themselves differently.
I hope you see them differently, too.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERKim Gorgens - Neuropsychologist
Kim Gorgens studies the brain's response to injury -- and advocates that we mind our (gray) matter.
Why you should listen
As a neuropsychologist working in the field of brain injuries, Kim Gorgens has seen firsthand the damage sports-related impacts can do. And as chair of the State of Colorado Traumatic Brain Injury Trust Fund Board and a member of the Brain Injury Legislative Collaborative, she’s working to shape Colorado law around youth sports injuries.
Gorgens, an assistant clinical professor in the University of Denver Graduate School of Professional Psychology, also is the president-elect of the Colorado Neuropsychological Society and has an appointment to the American Psychological Association’s Council on Disability in Psychology.
Kim Gorgens | Speaker | TED.com