Study links brain injuries with homelessness
Brain injury could be a significant risk factor for people becoming homeless, according to a charity study.
In its research The Disabilities Trust Foundation found almost half of homeless people had a brain injury and 90 per cent sustained their injury before becoming homeless.
It now wants to work with councils and housing associations to support homeless people with these injuries.
The charity asked 75 homeless men and 25 homeless women in Leeds whether they had experienced traumatic brain injury and, if so, when the blow to the head occurred and how severe it was. Forty eight per cent said they had experienced TBI.
The findings were then compared to data from a group of people from Leeds who were not homeless. Twenty-one per cent of these had suffered TBI.
The charity – which supports people with disabilities - has set up a helpline for homeless people in Leeds and wants to expand its work to other cities.
Deborah Fortescue, head of the charity, said: ‘Training for the professionals who work with [homeless people] is vital, as people with a brain injury need to have specialised support to regain their skills and confidence.’
The study was carried out by Professor Michael Oddy for the trust as part of a series of projects on the impact of ‘hidden’ disabilities, and it reflects the findings of a 2008 study of homeless people in Toronto, Canada. That research found 53 per cent of homeless people had sustained a brain injury.
The foundation is planning further research in Glasgow on the possible link between brain injury and homelessness, which will track medical records and compare them with homelessness information.
The report’s findings
Of the 48 per cent of homeless people in the study who had experienced a TBI:
- 90 per cent of these reported that their first injury had been sustained prior to becoming homeless
- 60 per cent had experienced more than one brain injury – over twice as many as in the control sample (24 per cent)
- the average age when the homeless person first received a brain injury was 19.
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