Diagnosed With Homelessness

Bryan Walsh spotlights a study on the correlation between traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and homelessness:

Jane Topolovec-Vranic, a researcher in trauma and neurosurgery at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, surveyed 111 homeless men recruited from a city shelter to see whether they had suffered a TBI sometime in their past. She found that 45% of them had experienced a traumatic brain injury at some point in their life. (Sadly, most of her subjects’ TBIs resulted from assault.)

“You could see how it would happen,” she says. “You have a concussion, and you can’t concentrate or focus. Their thinking abilities and personalities change. They can’t manage at work, and they may lose their job, and eventually lose their families. And then it’s a negative spiral” — a spiral that, for the men in Topolovec-Vranic’s study, ends up in a homeless shelter.

Charlotte Lytton adds:

The findings are important in demonstrating that homelessness can often be created by medical—as opposed to lifestyle—deviations. “Recognition that a TBI sustained in childhood or early teenage years could predispose someone to homelessness may challenge some assumptions that homelessness is a conscious choice made by these individuals, or just the result of their addictions or mental illness,” Dr. Topolovec-Vranic explains.