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Higher Rates of Traumatic Brain Injury Among the Homeless Population

We have previously discussed the varying symptoms of traumatic brain injury– ranging from changes in the brain injury victim’s ability to understand and absorb new information or remember previously learned information, to less obvious emotional symptoms like mood swings and depression. Recently, the media has focused on the emotional impact of TBI in discussing the suicides of former NFL player Junior Seau and country music star Mindy McCready. It is thought that both suicides were the result of a severe depression caused by previous trauma to the brain. Recent research shows that suicide is not the only concern relating to the emotional effects of traumatic brain injury.

A new study suggests that homeless individuals have a higher occurrence of traumatic brain injury than the general population. The study reveals that up to 53 percent of the homeless population suffers from traumatic brain injury and, of those, most of the injuries occurred before they were homeless. Dr. Jane Topolovec-Vranic (who conducted the study), notes that low rates of employment are common among victims of TBI. The changes in abilities to focus on tasks, remember assignments, or concentrate for an extended period of time make it extremely difficult for victims of TBI to carry out ordinary work functions. Further, the ability to control impulses present in a normal brain may be substantially altered for the victim of a brain injury. Combined, these factors can contribute to an already high risk of depression, making it difficult for some TBI victims to hold a steady job following their injury. The study also suggests that the impairments to the brain following the injury “may increase the risk of remaining homeless.”

It is important to remember that it is not only the victims of the injury that suffer from its effects. The emotional impairments caused by the injury can have serious effects on the victim’s friends and family, who may not understand or be fully equipped to handle these changes. Additionally the ever-rising number of unemployed and homeless Americans places a burden on society as a whole, as well as on the National economy. It is for these reasons that the Brain Injury Association of America and other organizations like it, focus on researching both the causes and treatments for TBI, as well as raising awareness of its effects to the general public. The more we understand these types of injuries, the better equipped we will be as a society to deal with the personal, social, and economic results caused by traumatic brain injuries.

For more information on the emotional and fiscal damage caused by TBI, please contact the experienced traumatic brain injury attorneys at Dolman Law Group for a free case evaluation and consultation at 727-451-6900.

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