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Homelessness and Traumatic Brain Injury

California has the highest homeless population in the country. In the San Francisco area, significant numbers of homeless people search to find shelter under bridges or in camps around the city. While food and shelter are a constant struggle, according to new research, San Francisco’s staggering homeless could also be facing another problem: traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Victims suffering with TBI have usually been involved in some kind of personal injury accident. The brain damage is caused by a blow to the head or a form of penetrating head injury that disrupts brain function. Traumatic brain injuries can range from mild, which may be characterized by a short change in mental status or sensory problems, to severe, which may include seizures or long-term amnesia.

San Francisco’s Homeless

Across the nation, there are an estimated 634,000 homeless people. Out of that number, approximately 131,000 homeless are in California. San Francisco attracts many of the homeless population, as the city has gone to great lengths to help the community get back on its feet.

San Francisco has more than doubled its homeless housing units over the last several years and quadrupled its spending on homeless public services to a staggering $40 million a year. Despite these efforts, the city’s homeless population remains one of the highest in the state. This is even true for small towns like Pacifica. For instance, in 2007, Pacifica had only 7 homeless people within the community. As of 2013, that number has grown to 150.

San Francisco’s Homeless and Incidence of Traumatic Brain Injury

New research now leads many to believe that San Francisco’s homeless are facing previously unknown dangers of TBI. It’s been clear for many years that TBI is associated with drug abuse, alcoholism, homelessness, panic attacks, suicide, depression, lack of sleep and extreme difficulties with personal interaction. What is only now becoming obvious, however, is that the homeless population are at a much higher risk for TBI than those people within the general population.

A research study conducted at Canada’s Head Injury Clinic of St. Michael’s Hospital hoped to find out just how prevalent TBI is within the homeless community and why. The scientists found that between 8 and 53 percent of all homeless people are suffering with TBI. Interestingly, most of these people were men and the majority of them suffered TBI before they were rendered homeless

TBI is also linked to extremely low employment rates after the injury, which can then snowball into a cycle of homelessness. Researchers suggest that cognitive impairment from TBI may also increase the risk for some people to remain chronically homeless. As the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place, it becomes clear that TBI may truly contribute to homelessness.

A Former 49er Homeless and Suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury

Illustrating the link between TBI and homelessness is Terry Tautolo, a former San Francisco 49er who played football until multiple TBIs cost him his career. Tautolo is now one of San Francisco’s homeless. He played in the NFL for nine years and has lived in a tunnel under a city freeway since his retirement.

A number of traumatic brain injuries ended Tautolo’s career and left him with permanent damage. In fact, the TBI ultimately led to a diagnosis of dementia for Tautolo. He never reported his injuries to NFL team doctors or sought medical attention for his TBI. In fact, TBI is rampant within the NFL. For example, Tautolo’s old 49er roommate, George Visger, was forced to file a personal injury suit against the NFL for worker’s compensation in order to get the proper medical benefits to cover his TBI-related brain surgeries.

Danger of an Untreated Traumatic Brain Injury

It has been proven that the ability to access quality healthcare and medical specialists can make a huge difference for San Francisco personal injury victims. This is especially true when the injury is as complicated and intricate as a TBI. You have to wonder just how many of San Francisco’s homeless population could have been contributing members of society, had they only received the proper medical attention after a TBI.

Left untreated, TBI symptoms can escalate and lead to lifelong difficulties. These include cognitive delays, memory loss and personality changes. If you’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury due to someone else’s negligence, it is vital to contact an experienced San Francisco attorney who specializes in brain injury cases.

If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, it is time to schedule a consult with experienced San Francisco brain injury lawyer Nelson C. Barry. We can provide the experience, advice and legal action your family deserves.


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