Brain injury has become a significant medical and societal concern within the last 30 years. With advances in medical technology, many people who would have died are now surviving severe brain injuries. At times the cost is astronomical: financially, socially and emotionally.
The effects of a brain injury can be varied and unique as the individuals who sustain them. Since brain injuries occur in different areas of the brain with varying degrees of severity, no two people will be affected in the same way. An injury to the brain may affect a person in several ways including his personality, thinking, communication or mobility. Some of the more common effects of a brain injury are changes in memory, concentration, response time, planning and problem solving, initiative, flexibility, insight, impulsiveness, control of anger, talking, behaviour, dependence, emotional stability, and depression. Unless significant physical injuries occur it is often misdiagnosed or missed completely.
- 22 percent of people with catastrophic injuries never leave their homes leading to isolation
- In Ontario, 92 percent of men and 100 percent of women who sustain a brain injury NEVER return to full-time employment
- Because of the cost of home care, families provide the majority of care for people with brain injury leading to fatigue and illnesses for the care giver
- 53% of homeless individuals live with brain injury the vast majority 77% were injured prior to becoming homeless
- 82% of the prison population live with a disability as a result of traumatic brain injury
- up to 10% of all children have an undiagnosed brain injury affecting learning abilities
- 20% of children diagnosed with emotional disabilities and 30% classified as Learning Disabled have brain injury
- after brain injury people are 7 times more likely to develop mental illness
- people living with disability as a result of brain injury are often the most complex and difficult to serve. They are often not served because of their complex needs cannot be met with limited resources offered by non-specialized programs
- data demonstrates that brain injury is a permanent chronic condition that plays a significant role in development of other costly and social issues
Traumatic brain injury exacts a toll of billions of dollars a year through:
- Costs of neurosurgery
- Long periods of coma or low level state
- Extensive periods of therapy
- Loss or productivity and employment over the normal life span by the person injured, who is typically a young adult
From existing estimates, the cost in direct care costs is estimated at over $650 million dollars annually. Lost productivity costs are estimated at an additional $580 million dollars - totaling over 1 billion dollars annually.
Unfortunately support services have not been developed at the same rate as life saving procedure. The vast majority of health dollars are dedicated to acute care and short term rehabilitation. A small fraction of the resources are dedicated to decades of living with a profound disability incurring increasing health, social service and criminal justice system costs.
Brain injury is an issue of enormous proportions with devastating social and economic consequences. In the majority this is a condition of the young. The highest group are just starting careers and families and do not possess the resources to fall back on when injured. The cost in health, lost wages, increased reliance on the welfare system, legal costs and the devastating impact on families are nearly incalculable.
Costs of caring for people with ABI is born by a variety of payers:
- Federal, provincial and municipal governments
- Private insurance
- Worker's Compensation
- Private individuals
- Most provinces have no central policy or planning department and services are spread over many ministries including Health, Education & Training, Worker's Compensation, and Community Social Services
If we can prevent just one serious brain injury each year, over the lifetime of this person who would have been injured we would save over $90 million dollars.
Prevention and Education of brain injury is one of the most cost effective strategies to save health, social service and criminal justice resources.