A majority of people homeless all over the world suffer from concussion findings and other traumatic brain injuries this week. And often these injuries could have contributed to their homelessness or been caused by them, say the authors. The study, published Monday in Lancet Public Health, reviews existing research that looked at how common traumatic brain injury occurs in humans. In particular, it included studies that also considered the living conditions of people. These studies involved over 11,000 people who were either completely or partially homeless and living in the US, UK, Japan or Canada. And 26 of the 38 originally studied studies were included in a more detailed meta-analysis.
Overall, the study found that around 53 percent of the homeless had suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI) at some point in their lives. Among the people who reported being seriously injured, about a quarter had a moderate to severe head injury. Compared with the average person, homeless people have more than twice as many head injuries and almost ten times as common moderate to severe head injuries.
"TBI is widely distributed to the homeless and homeless, and may be a common factor contributing to poorer health and functioning than the general population," the researchers wrote.
In recent years, scientists have begun to document how even mild concussions can have lasting negative effects on mental health and perception, especially among children and adolescents. Given that 51 to 92 percent of those examined in this study had their first brain injury before becoming homeless, usually in their teens, it is likely that these injuries played a role in their precarious situation. In other cases, the increased risk of violence of a homeless person may result in these injuries.
In both cases it is clear that more needs to be done to ensure the safety of these vulnerable persons both before and after death.
"Taken together, this evidence shows that this is a public health emergency we already know how to tackle, but we failed to do so," wrote researcher Rob Aldridge of University College London in the UK in an accompanying editorial for Lancet Public Health.
Among other things, Aldridge recommended that governments and organizations should make it easier for homeless people to have quick access to permanent housing, while hospitals should do this. Stop dismissing patients who do not have stable abodes.
In the US, by estimates more than 500,000 Americans are affected by homelessness in a given year, of which a quarter are children.