Study reveals half of all homeless people live with traumatic brain injury

Recent research published in Public Health journal, The Lancet, indicates that half of all homeless people may be living with the impact of brain injury, which may have been a cause or contributing factor to their homelessness.

The study, the first meta-analysis to evaluate the prevalence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in homeless and marginally housed individuals, was published in December 2019.

Researchers brought together studies from the UK, USA, Australia, Japan, Canada and South Korea which demonstrated that 53% of homeless people had suffered a traumatic brain injury during their lifetime and that almost a quarter have a history of moderate or severe TBI.

The study showed that the lifetime prevalence of TBI is between 2.5-times and 4 times higher than estimates in the general population among homeless and marginally housed individuals, and a history of TBI is associated with poorer health and general functioning. It also showed that the lifetime prevalence of moderate or severe TBI in this population is nearly ten-times higher than estimates in the general population

Traumatic brain injury results from a sudden injury – often following a car accident, assault or as a result of a fall – and can result in severe cognitive impairments affecting mental and physical health. Homeless people experience poorer mental and physical health than the general population, including a high prevalence of psychotic disorders, depression and drug and alcohol dependence.

Jehannine Austin, from the British Columbia mental health and substance use services research institute in Canada, which carried out the research said:

“The relationship between homelessness and TBI could function both ways – TBI could increase the risk of homelessness, and homelessness could increase the risk of TBI. We need a better understanding of this relationship to address the issue, and to improve outcomes in the homeless and marginally housed population.”

Following a traumatic brain injury, a period of neurorehabilitation is essential to ensuring that people have the best chance of recovering lost function, increasing their independence and being able to cope with the long-term impact of their injury.

NRC Medical Experts provide a vital service to solicitors supporting clients who have experienced brain injury. Their expert witness testimony gives the courts an objective and unbiased view of a person’s recovery potential and recommendations for future support.

Meet our medical-expert witnesses specialising in brain injury, or get in touch to find out more about how we support solicitors.