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

Sooke Food Bank sends out call for help

Need continues as holiday season food drives are over

Saanich Police ask for help locating missing high-risk youth

Robyn Coker-Steel has not been in contact with anyone from her home since Dec. 27

Some 500 people attend Sidney vigil for victims of Iran airplane crash

All 176 passengers, including 57 Canadians, died when Flight PS752 crashed

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: Study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

VIDEO: Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

A state of emergency is set to extend into a fifth day

Power lines cut as thieves strike Vancouver Island veterinary hospital

‘Thankfully there weren’t any animals or staff in the clinic when this happened’

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

Surrey’s ‘Pink Palace’ being used for Stephen King horror shoot

New web series based on King’s The Stand novel

‘It was just so fast’: B.C. teen recalls 150-metre fall down Oregon mountain

Surrey’s Gurbaz Singh broke his leg on Mount Hood on Dec. 30

Vancouver Island Pride weekend returns to Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Building on the success of last year’s family-friendly pride festival on Vancouver… Continue reading

Scarlett Point lighthouse keeper wins a million bucks playing the lottery

“I usually just get a quick pick, so I didn’t expect to win a big prize”

B.C. woman crowned the fastest female marathon runner in Canadian history

Malindi Elmore ran an incredible 2:24:50 at the Houston Marathon

Alberta bulldog breeder ordered to refund B.C. buyer over puppy’s behaviour

Tribunal ruled a verbal agreement to send a new dog superseded the written contract

Most Read