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Could Traumatic Brain Injury Cause Homelessness?

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), especially in its more severe forms, can cause serious physical, cognitive, and emotional impairment, but could it also cause homelessness? Two studies from the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggest it might.

In 2008, Dr. Stephen Hwang and his team of researchers questioned 907 homeless men and women to find out how common TBI was among the homeless population, and to see how it correlated with physical and mental health issues they suffered. They found that 53% of their subjects had suffered TBI at some point, and 12% suffered from moderate or severe TBI. For 70% of those subjects, the TBI had happened before they became homeless.

This year, another group of researchers led by Jane Topolovec-Vranic performed a smaller study of 111 men at a homeless shelter in Toronto, Ontario. 45% of those subjects had a history of TBI. Of those, 42% of participants reported vehicle collisions. For 87% of the subjects with TBI, at least one incident happened before they became homeless.

Both studies said the data suggested a possible causal link between TBI and homelessness and recommended further study. Because of the frequency with which TBI pre-dated the onset of homelessness, the researchers believed that brain injury could increase the risk of becoming or remaining homeless.

The hypothesis makes sense to those who work with TBI survivors. Moderate to severe TBI often results in cognitive and behavioral dysfunction. This shift in capacity and behavior can cause some with TBI to lose their jobs, their homes, and their support structures. Once those resources are gone, the only recourses left to TBI victims are shelters.

That is why it is very important for TBI victims to have their medical expenses covered. Early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of TBI can minimize the long-term cognitive and behavioral effects of the injury. If the TBI is caused by a motor vehicle accident (even if the victim was a pedestrian), the Michigan No-Fault Insurance laws provide protection. TBI victims and their families should contact the expert No-Fault lawyers at Christensen Law as soon as possible to ensure their care is covered.