A new computer program developed by doctors could not only detect victims of abuse, but also may eventually be used to diagnose a variety of diseases and conditions A broken bone one day, a particular infection a few months later and depression the following year may appear to be separate, medical issues.
However, to a new artificial intelligence program developed by Boston doctors, these are all symptoms of domestic abuse.
The new software can identify abuse victims up to six years before these cases would otherwise be found and could eventually be used to diagnose just about any disease or injury.
"It's very difficult to detect domestic abuse because it often happens in the privacy of the home," said Ben Reis, a doctor at Children's Hospital Boston (CHB) who helped develop the program.
"Doctors are often on the front lines of detecting abuse, but so often the doctor is focused on treating the injury, they don't see the context behind it."
Dozens of studies over the last 40 years have correlated various illnesses, injuries and other conditions with abuse. Bruising to the middle of the forearm or the core of the body instead of the elbow or knee can signal abuse. Depression or alcoholism may also be symptoms of this condition.