Homeless Men: Association with High Rate of Prior Brain Injury

Jane Topolovec-Vranic, PhD Clinical Researcher, Trauma and Neurosurgery Program Associate Scientist, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto Associate Member, Graduate Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Toronto MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jane Topolovec-Vranic, PhD
Clinical Researcher, Trauma and Neurosurgery Program
Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto
Associate Member, Graduate Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Toronto

MedicalResearch.com What are the main findings of the study?

Answer: In our study we found that almost half of the men interviewed in a homeless shelter in Toronto had experienced a traumatic brain injury in their past, and that most of them had experienced their first brain injury prior to becoming homeless, usually in the early teenage years.

MedicalResearch.com Were any of the findings unexpected?

Answer: An unexpected finding was that although many of the men had experienced at least one of their brain injuries as a result of an assault, high numbers of them indicated that they had experienced them as a result of sports and recreation, motor vehicle collisions, and or falls.

MedicalResearch.com What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Answer: Given that many of the injuries occurred in youth, by events that could happen to any of us, this strongly supports the need for injury prevention strategies and potential longer-term monitoring of youth after brain injuries. Clinicians and frontline workers should also keep in mind that the behaviors of these individuals may be influenced by a brain injury from their past.

MedicalResearch.com What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Answer: Future research could assess the comfort and ability of workers with individuals who are homeless to assess for and manage symptoms of traumatic brain injury. Also, the effect of implementing strategies to reduce the symptoms related to past traumatic brain injury, or to prevent the occurrence of new injuries should be evaluated.

Citation:

Traumatic brain injury among men in an urban homeless shelter: observational study of rates and mechanisms of injury
Jane Topolovec-Vranic PhD, Naomi Ennis BA(Hons), Mackenzie Howatt BSc(Hons) and colleagues
CMAJ Open April 25, 2014