Nearly half of homeless men have suffered a traumatic brain injury

Of the homeless who suffered TBI, 87 percent experienced the injury before they became homeless.
By Brooks Hays  |  April 25, 2014 at 12:36 PM
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TORONTO, April 25 (UPI) -- Some 45 percent of homeless men in a recent survey in Toronto had suffered a traumatic brain injury at some point in their life -- 70 percent of those injuries occurred during adolescence and 87 percent happened before the men became homeless.

The study is based on information collected from 111 homeless men aged 27 to 81 years old. The men were recruited from a downtown Toronto shelter and interviewed by researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital.

Dr. Jane Topolovec-Vranic, who led the study, said the survey results are important for those who work with homeless populations, as brain injuries are strongly linked with mental health issues, substance abuse, seizures and other complications. Dr. Topolovec-Vranic also said the fact that so many homeless men suffered their injury before taking to the streets, suggests physicians need to keep a closer watch on those who suffer a TBI, as they could be at greater risk of dereliction.

The study -- which was published this week in the journal CMAJ Open -- follows similar findings by Dr. Stephen Hwang of the hospital’s Centre for Research on Inner City Health. Dr. Hwang's larger study looked at more than 1,100 Canadians who were homeless or vulnerably housed in Toronto, Vancouver and Ottowa. He found roughly 61 percent have suffered a TBI, seven times the TBI rate suffered by the general population.

Dr. Hwang's study also found that homeless men and women who had suffered a TBI were more likely to be arrested or incarcerated. Homeless TBI sufferers were also found to have a better chance of becoming a victim of physical assault.

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