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Troup County judge continues to teach about impacts of trauma

By Alicia B. HIll

LAGRANGE — For the last six years, Judge Michael Key has been on a mission to make the effects of trauma known to the Troup County community. Those efforts continued on Tuesday when Dr. Stan Sonu spoke in the Troup County Juvenile Courtroom on the impact of trauma on physical health.

Sonu is the associate director of the Emory J.Willis Hurst International Medicine Residency Program at Emory University School of Medicine, with a focus primarily at Grady Hospital

“This is a public health topic that has fell under the radar for so long, and so I love the fact that we are all here today to share and to learn about this really important topic,” Sonu said. “This is not new … The point of this is the topic and what we can do as a community in response to it.”

Sonu spoke on some of the research into how trauma impacts things like addiction and weight gain even decades after the traumatic event has occurred.

“What I will say is novel about the adverse childhood experiences study is that it gave us a very powerful and efficient way to talk about trauma and its long-term and widespread effects, especially in healthcare, and I’d imagine the justice system,” Sonu said. “When we can say that more of this exposure increases the risk of this outcome, people start to pay attention.”

The presentation was organized by Key, who has been a major advocate for informed trauma response in the Troup County community and beyond.

Key has been part of several local efforts including Trauma Informed Response Training and has presented on trauma-informed court practice.

“Today is another step on the journey,” Key said. “We spend a lot of time raising public awareness around Troup County, talking about the impact of trauma on families. We talk mostly about mental health. … To hear this conversation today, from Dr. Sonu on the impact physically and trauma as a true public health threat or issue is so vital in our community. It is a message that we all need to hear.”