Toronto ABI Network

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Brain Injury and Homelessness Workshop

In June 2009, The Toronto ABI Network hosted a workshop on Brain Injury and Homelessness in collaboration with COTA Health and the City of Toronto, Homelessness Partnership Initiatives.

The workshop’s goal was to increase awareness among service providers about brain injury in the city’s homeless population. It was initiated in response to a groundbreaking research study published by Dr. Stephen Hwang of the Centre for Research on Inner City Health, St. Michael's Hospital.

In the study, Dr. Hwang and his colleagues sought to determine the lifetime prevalence of traumatic brain injury and its association with current health conditions in a representative sample of homeless people in Toronto.

The study reported that:

  • Lifetime prevalence among homeless participants was 53 per cent for any traumatic brain injury and 12 per cent for moderate or severe traumatic brain injury.
  • For 70 per cent of respondents, their first traumatic brain injury occurred before the onset of homelessness.
  • After adjustment for demographic characteristics and lifetime duration of homelessness, a history of moderate or severe traumatic brain injury was associated with significantly increased likelihood of seizures, mental health problems, drug problems, poorer physical health status and poorer mental health status.


The effect of traumatic brain injury on the health of homeless people, CMAJ 197(8)


Traumatic Brain Injury and the Health of Homeless People
Dr. Stephen Hwang, Centre for Research on Inner City Health, St. Michael's Hospital

Brain Injury 101
Dr. Carolyn Lemsky, Clinical Director, Community Head Injury Resource Services

How to Assess and Manage the Challenges of ABI
Kelley Anstey, Behaviour Therapist, West Park Healthcare Centre
Georgina Mares, ABI Case Manager, COTA Health