Almost Half of Homeless People Say They Have a Brain Injury
16 May, 2012.
First ever UK study indicates brain injury may
contribute to risk of becoming homeless.
Brain injury could affect almost half (48%) of
homeless people and may contribute to the risk of people becoming
homeless in the first place, says a new study launched today by
national charity The Disabilities Trust through its Foundation.
These injuries, unless properly diagnosed and treated, can bring
communication, memory and behaviour problems leading to increased
risk of family breakdown and loss of employment.
It is hoped the research will raise awareness among health,
housing and care professionals about how someone's support needs
will differ if they have a brain injury.
Unveiled in Leeds, the study asked 75 homeless men and 25
homeless women in the city whether they had experienced traumatic
brain injury (TBI) and, if so, when the blow to the head occurred
and how severe it was.
The findings were then compared to data from a group of people
fromLeedswho were not homeless.
Forty eight percent of homeless people interviewed said they had
had a TBI - over twice the number in the non-homeless group
Of the 48% of homeless people who said they had experienced a
traumatic brain injury:
- 90% of these reported that their first injury had been
sustained prior to becoming homeless
- over half (60%) said they had sustained more than one brain
injury - over twice as many as in the control sample (24%)
- the average age when they said they had experienced their first
brain injury was 19.
Carried out by Professor Michael Oddy for the Trust's Foundation
as part of a series of projects on the impact of 'hidden'
disabilities, the study reflects the findings of a 2008 study of
homeless people in Toronto, Canada, which found that 53% said that
they had sustained a brain injury.
The Foundation today launched a free helpline for homeless
people in the Leeds area with a brain injury, as part of ongoing
support provided by the charity's specialist linkworker at the
city's St George's Crypt homeless centre.
Chief Executive of The Disabilities Trust, Barrie Oldham,
"An estimated 100,000 people in the UK live with
long term disabilities as the result of brain injury - a 'silent
epidemic'. We know that these injuries can shatter people's lives
and this groundbreaking research is the first step towards a better
understanding of the possible link between homelessness and brain
injury. There is much more work to be done to develop the evidence
base and we are already starting work on a further study to compare
homelessness information with medical records."
Professor Steve Field, Chair of the National Inclusion Health
'My role is to drive improvements in health outcomes
for the most vulnerable and excluded groups in our society. Whilst
the general population's health continues to improve, those that
are socially excluded and vulnerable to poor health outcomes are
all too often being left behind. They have significantly poorer
health outcomes than those enjoyed by the general population. The
homeless have some of the poorest health outcomes and therefore are
a key priority.
Although there are good examples of research on the
health outcomes of homeless people, we are still lacking, I
therefore welcome this research as a addition to strengthening the
evidence base on health outcomes of homeless
Deborah Fortescue, Head of The Disabilities Trust Foundation,
"We are keen to expand our work to other cities and work
with councils, housing associations and health trusts to provide
support for homeless people with these injuries. Training for the
professionals who work with them is vital, as people with a brain
injury need to have specialised support to regain their skills and
She added: "Our new brain injury helpline for homeless people in
Leeds, kindly donated by Core Telecom, will put individuals in
direct touch with our specialist support worker."
The number is 0800 690 6069 and is free to call from a
Mahmood Mazhar, Chief Executive of Core Telecom said: "We have a
proud history of working with a wide range charities, and it is a
great pleasure to be able to provide a brand new helpline for The
Disabilities Trust. This is part of our on-going support of the
Foundation, whose work is of great importance to me. I hope that by
working together we can make a real difference to people's
The further research planned by the Foundation on the possible
link between brain injury and homelessness will track medical
records and compare them with homelessness information. This will
take place in Glasgow and is led by Professor Tom MacMillan.
Today's research has been independently reviewed by research
experts and is set to be published in Brain Injury journal later in
For further information and research on homelessness, including
links to homelessness charities across the UK, see http://homeless.org.uk/