A new, large-scale Canadian study shows that many adults with traumatic brain injury (TBI) live in a long-term health setting -- such as a nursing home- which may not be appropriate for their condition and younger age.
The study, led by Dr. Angela Colantonio, Senior Scientist, Toronto Rehab, University Health Network, was published in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. It looked at more than 10,000 adults with TBI in four non-acute settings: home care, mental health, nursing home and complex continuing care facilities.
"There were two striking findings in this work: First, persons with traumatic brain injury were significantly younger than other residents in nursing home settings; and, they were also more likely to be male, whereas most of the other residents were female," said Dr. Colantonio.
Dr. Colantonio also notes that this is a result of a lack of appropriate housing or health-care setting alternatives for this population. For many individuals living with TBI, it is imperative they are in a setting with TBI rehabilitation to help them thrive.
"Providing housing for people living with visible and invisible disabilities associated with brain injury is critical in reducing the homeless population and the number of people incarcerated," said Harry Zarins, Executive Director, Brain Injury Association of Canada. "Importantly, having housing available will also reduce the time Canadians suffering with brain injury are spending in hospitals. Hand in hand with housing is the availability and implementation of a visionary rehabilitation program."
In addition, the study found that psychotropic drug use was the highest among nursing home residents with TBI. For instance, almost 42 per cent of adults with a TBI diagnosis in nursing homes were identified as taking anti-psychotic medication. The appropriateness of this high level of medication will need to be examined further.
"Our next focus will be to look at the health outcomes for people with TBI in these four care settings," said Dr. Colantonio. "This will be imperative to determine the support and care necessary for optimal long-term health and quality of life."
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