A UBC-led study indicates that more than half of people who are homeless experience or have experienced traumatic brain injuries. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

One in two homeless people have suffered a traumatic brain injury: UBC study

Our Place Society says trauma, abuse and injury contribute to homelessness, addiction

More than half of people who are homeless have a lifetime history of traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to a University of British Columbia (UBC)-led study released last month.

Those rates aren’t exactly surprising to Grant McKenzie, director of communications at Victoria’s Our Place Society.

The non-profit, located in the busy 900-block of Pandora Avenue, has been helping to feed, house and support thousands of people experiencing homelessness or addiction in the inner city since 2007.

“Trauma is one of the number one reasons people end up on the street,” McKenzie says. “It kind of shows you that with something as serious as traumatic brain injury, how difficult it is for people to pick themselves up without the assistance of not-for-profits.”

READ ALSO: Victoria brain injury survivors share harrowing stories

By analyzing data in 38 studies on TBI between 1995 and 2018 in Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the U.S., UBC researchers learned that people who are homeless or marginally housed are two to five times more likely to have a brain injury than estimates in the general population. In total, 53 per cent of the homeless population studied had experienced a brain injury and 25 per cent experienced a “moderate or severe” TBI.

Researchers couldn’t say if TBIs increased the risk of homelessness or vice versa, but they did suggest that physicians and care providers who work with people who are homeless should have an increased awareness of brain injuries and their impacts.

The study also shows that serious brain injuries, which occur roughly 165,000 times per year in Canada, can have devastating long-term impacts. Researchers reported connections between TBI and increased risk of suicide, poorer self-reported physical and mental health, memory issues and increased health service and criminal justice system involvement.

“I think a lot of times it’s quite easy to point a finger at somebody and say, ‘hey get a job’ or ‘stop using drugs’ and that’s not always the case,” McKenzie says. “I think when the general public realizes there is so much injury of people on the streets, there’s so much trauma, they’ll realize what we see as drug addiction is a side effect of that trauma.”

READ ALSO: Brain injury from domestic abuse a ‘public health crisis,’ says B.C. researcher

TBIs might contribute to homelessness, McKenzie says, but so do the long-term injuries caused by trauma and abuse – both physical and mental.

“Everybody that comes to use Our Place, they come from a place of abuse and neglect,” he says. “And you definitely see the impacts of that injury. That could be everything from prenatal trauma to early sexual or physical abuse – and that sends their life off on a path of falling through the cracks.”



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Number of EI recipients up 8.1 per cent in Greater Victoria, but unemployment remains low

Greater Victoria recorded the lowest unemployment in December 2019

Victoria security company sees jump in clients in lower downtown after influx of thefts

Themis Security has signed several new contracts for businesses in lower Yates, Johnson streets area

Saanich’s plastic bag ban won’t be affected by the Supreme Court ruling against Victoria

Council amended Saanich’s ban to align with the B.C. Court of Appeal’s ruling in November

Province rejects two ride hailing operators in Greater Victoria

Two smaller companies rejected in CRD; Uber and Lyft approved in Vancouver

Lion dance, Kung Fu demonstrations celebrate Chinese New Year

Sunday’s event rings in the Year of the Rat

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

‘Latte-sipping urbanites’ need to realize value of mining in B.C., association head says

Industry generates a total of $3.9 billion in sales of goods and service across the province

Uber, Lyft approved for ride-hailing in Lower Mainland

Kater Technologies Inc.’s application was rejected

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

Former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse in B.C. granted day parole

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s

VIDEO: Person in wheelchair narrowly avoids collision with car in Kelowna

There were no injuries in the scary looking near-accident last week in Rutland

Here’s what Canada is doing to stop the coronavirus from getting in

Health officials are monitoring multiple possible cases in Canada

Most Read