IDK: Homelessness and head trauma
While the symptoms of head trauma can be predictable in some patients, studies are emerging that find more unexpected results due to long-term issues of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). One study in particular from April of 2014, conducted by St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, found almost half of all homeless people who participated once experienced a TBI.
In addition, 87 percent of these homeless participants incurred the injury before losing their homes. Assaults were the primary reason for these incidents along with recreation mishaps and car accidents.
Dr. Jane Topolovec-Vranic, a clinical researcher in the hospital’s Neuroscience Research Program, headed the efforts focusing on 111 homeless men aged 27 to 81 years old who were found in a downtown Toronto men’s shelter. Forty-five percent of participants had a TBI.
“In men under age 40, falls from drug/alcohol blackouts were the most common cause of traumatic brain injury while assault was the most common in men over 40 years old,” Dr. Topolovec-Vranic also found.
From these results, Dr. Topolovec-Vranic believes in reducing stigma concerning homeless people. These head injuries increase physical and mental problems, presenting potentially debilitating challenges. These TBIs may have contributed to a homeless person’s situation, not necessarily drug or alcohol abuse, as commonly believed by some.
Another study, this one performed by Stephen W. Hwang, M.D., from The Centre for Research on Inner City Health, made the subject pool much bigger. This study focused on 904 people, 601 men and 303 women living in homeless shelters or participating in meal programs between 2004 and 2005. Over three-quarters of participants responded and 53 percent of them self-reported a TBI. Twelve percent of those with a TBI said the injury was moderate or severe. Dr. Hwang defines a TBI of any kind as an injury leading to disorientation, confusion or unconsciousness. Blackouts lasting 30 minutes or longer were considered moderate to severe brain injuries. In the study, there was a correlation found between the head injuries and seizures, mental health problems, drug issues, poor physical health and declined mental states.
As evidenced by these studies, the toll TBIs take on a person may leading to homelessness and other difficult circumstances. Treating mental hardships right away could be a key aspect of preventing living difficulties.
Sovereign Health Group is a mental health provider ready to treat disorders before they ruin lives. Dedicated therapists are ready to handle a multitude of issues, no matter the cause. Call Sovereign Health today to talk to a member of our team about getting the help you need.
Written by Sovereign Health Group writer Nicholas Ruiz