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The Connection Between Brain Injuries and Homelessness

A recent study, published in the Huffington Post, suggests a link between traumatic brain injuries and homelessness. The study entailed surveys of 111 homeless men, between the ages of 27 and 81 years of age, selected from a male homeless shelter in Toronto, Canada. The researchers found that 45% of the men surveyed reported at least one traumatic brain injury in their life times, with 87% of those injuries occurring prior to the loss of shelter. The article points out that these numbers are particularly shocking in comparison to the general population, where traumatic brain injury occurrences are generally around 12%.

There are various degrees of traumatic brain injuries. For example, sports concussions are generally classified as mild to moderate. Severe traumatic brain injury occurs when the brain moves around within the skull or a foreign object causes injury to it. The severe injuries can cause victims to slip into comas or experience amnesia. These injury types can also reportedly result in impairments to cognitive and motor functions.

Most of the brain injuries experienced by study participants were mild or moderate in nature, occurring under various circumstances. Respondents over the age of 40 reported assault as the most common cause of injury, while those under 40 years of age reported that their injuries resulted from drug or alcohol abuse. When the total population of respondents was considered, sports injuries and car collisions were the most frequent causes.

In the article, the lead researcher explains that the findings only represent a possible link and not a direct causal connection, listing poverty and substance abuse as other factors contributing to homelessness. The study demonstrates that brain injuries may be among these other risk factors in predicting homelessness. Challenging the belief that people choose homelessness, history of a past traumatic brain injury may provide an alternative explanation.

A Warning About Brain Injuries in Youth
The researchers stated that the study provides a warning for parents of children with brain injuries. “There is a take-home message for parents,” one scientist stated. “If you’re a parent of a teenager who may sustained a concussion or traumatic brain injury, for instance, be sure to watch for sudden dramatic changes in behavior or personality.” She acknowledged the difficulty in this task, due to the number of general changes to personality and behavior that occur during the teenage years. According to the article, these variations in teenagers are not easily traced back to a brain injury. Additionally, teenagers often do not inform their parents when they experienced an injury. Nonetheless, the researchers advises parents to continuously monitor the child’s behavior.

This study is one of several recent studies to determine the link between teenage brain injuries and undesirable living situations later in life. Other recent studies examined the connection between traumatic brain injuries and incarceration.

If you or your has suffered from a traumatic brain injury, contact the experienced brain injury attorneys for a free consultation.

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