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)

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

Victoria police will be making numerous arrests throughout the day Jan. 27 as part of its #VicPDWarrantWednesday project. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
UPDATED: Victoria police’s #WarrantWednesday makes 11 arrests and counting

VicPD says arrests part of warrant enforcement project

Victoria police are seeking a young woman suspected of spitting on a bus driver in October 2020. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
VIDEO: Young woman sought after ‘spitting assault’ on Victoria bus driver

Suspect became irate after bus came to a sudden stop

Police are warning people of flu shot and vaccination frauds. (Black Press Media file photo)
Flu shot fraud charges West Shore resident for non-existent appointments

Fraudulent email claimed to be from London Drugs

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan (left) and Kairry Nguyen on Jan. 27, 2020 after Tenessa Nikirk was found guilty for striking Bui in a Saanich crosswalk. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Driver convicted of dangerous driving after hitting Leila Bui out on bail

Tennesa Nikirk was convicted for striking then 11-year-old Leila Bui with her car

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
UPDATE: No sign of small plane that went down in Juan de Fuca Strait

Searchers out on both sides of border between Victoria and Port Angeles

(Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
The Pachena Bay shoreline in 2013. (Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
This week in history: 9.0 magnitude quake struck under what is now called Vancouver Island

According to First Nations elders, the 9.0-magnitude quake in 1700 CE kick-started a tsunami

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 26

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

(B.C. government photo)
POLL: Would you like to see restrictions on travel to B.C. from other provinces?

With a host of more virulent strains of COVID-19 appearing across the… Continue reading

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

Worker at Swartz Bay terminal on Monday, January 20, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Former BC Ferries employee alleges he was fired because of his race

Imraan Goondiwala has been granted a BC Human Rights Tribunal hearing

An Island Health graph showing COVID-19 cases in the central Island by local health area between Dec. 27 and Jan. 23. (Island Health image)
Central Island’s COVID-19 case spike shifting, says Island Health

Cowichan Valley has seen the highest number of cases, but Nanaimo and south Island seeing upticks

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker have been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
B.C. couple who travelled to Yukon for COVID vaccine ineligible for 2nd dose until summer

Health officials planning new measures to ensure people verify where they live before inoculation

(File)
Mask dispute in court leaves Vancouver cop with broken leg

Man allegedly refused to put on a mask and resisted arrest

Most Read