Brain injury in non-English speaking Latinos

Brain Artwork with Colorful Designs

As a group, Latinos/Hispanics are especially vulnerable to traumatic brain injury. Those who do not speak English are at a particular disadvantage because there is a significant lack of information and services that are provided in Spanish. There are few clinical instruments that assess traumatic brain injury in the Spanish-speaking population.

Although the incidence of brain injury has been increasing in this group, there has been little research specific to brain injury in the Latino/Hispanic population, and they are underrepresented within clinical studies (at less than 5%) that have been published. The issue is of importance because a cluster of new studies has shown that the population may experience different characteristics in outcomes after traumatic brain injury.

For instance:

• One year after injury, 63% remain unemployed, even though almost 59% are able to live independently.
• Ten years after injury, 48% remain unemployed, even though 57% are able to live independently.
• One year after injury, Spanish-speaking people with brain injury have significantly higher levels of depression, memory and attention deficits, communication problems, and motor impairment than non-Hispanic Whites and African-Americans with brain injury.
• Even after adjusting for depression, socioeconomic status, social support, and cognitive functioning, Spanish-speaking people with a brain injury report a significantly lower quality of life, higher emotional and physical functioning, and greater pain than Spanish-speaking people without a brain injury.
• Although the family unit is an important cultural distinction in the Spanish-speaking population, families are often unprepared for the ongoing care of people with a brain injury. As a result, they show a high rate of caregiver distress, depression, financial worries, and physical problems.

The Latino/Hispanic population already has an increased risk of traumatic brain injury, higher levels of disability, and lower levels of recovery. Despite the need for culturally appropriate assessment, information, and rehabilitation efforts for the Latino/Hispanic population, there remains a lack of research and little to offer to patients and family members.

Jamison L, Kolakowsky-Haynoer SA, & Wright J. Preliminary investigation of longitudinal sociodemographic, injury and psychosocial characteristics in a group of non-English speaking Latinos with brain injury. Brain Injury. (June 2012).

Arango-Lasprilla JC. Traumatic brain injury in Spanish-speaking individuals: Research findings and clinical implications. Brain Injury. (June 2012).