Neurological disorders often have a broad and profound impact on general level of health, including bodily functions and mental health, for persons living with these conditions. Neurological disorders include injuries and diseases of the spinal cord, brain and peripheral nervous system. Some of the most common neurological disorders suffered by Canadians are:
- traumatic brain injury
- dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease
- spinal injury
- cerebral palsy
- multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
Neurological conditions may affect a person’s mobility, dexterity, behaviour, cognitive function, perception, speech, language, function of the bladder or bowel, and emotions. And, the symptoms and complications arising from a neurological disorder can vary from a low degree of functional impairment to a debilitating incapacity. However, in many cases, neurological injuries and disorders have chronic, long-term effects.
When we consider the broad-based effect of many neurological disorders, it’s no wonder that these impairments can have acute consequences for the quality of life and well-being of persons who are living with these conditions. Further, families and caregivers are also often substantially impacted by the physical, psychological and emotional challenges faced by their loved one.
Canadian Survey finds that persons with a neurological disorder believe their condition has a significant impact on their lives.
In 2014, the Canadian Government published the results of a large-scale survey of Canadian households with family members living with a neurological condition, titled “Survey on Living with Neurological Conditions in Canada”. The survey found that Canadians with a neurological condition were 2.6 times more likely to describe their general health as ‘fair’ or ‘poor’ than persons who don’t suffer from a neurological condition. And, when migraine headaches were excluded from the questionnaire, then the number of persons with a neurological condition who report ‘fair’ or ‘poor’ general health soared to 3.7 times higher than for Canadians without neurological conditions.
Neurological conditions often impact the mental health of sufferers. Adults who are living with a neurological condition reported feeling higher levels of stress, symptoms of depression and self-reported mood disorders. Depression and mood disorders were particularly common for those suffering with a traumatic brain injury or brain tumour.
The Canadian survey also revealed that the neurological disorder created limitations on physical abilities and day-to-day living for most Canadians living with the disorder. Almost 90 per cent reported a limitation in at least one normal activity, and this was particularly true for migraine sufferers. Adults living with a neurological condition reported that they experience activity limitations three times higher than Canadians without these conditions, and many sufferers said that their activities were ‘often’ restricted.
Common symptoms, such as impaired cognition, reduced mobility, chronic pain and discomfort, and impaired dexterity, can vary in terms of their effect, depending on the specific disorder and the severity of the condition. Many persons with a traumatic spinal cord injury, for example, experience chronic pain and reduced mobility and these symptoms are often severe enough to prevent the person from engaging in most activities. And, such impairments in the ability to function normally can understandably have a profound impact on the quality of life for sufferers.
Finally, due to the physical and mental impairments, persons with a neurological condition are frequently disabled and unable to work or restricted in the type of work they can reasonably perform. In addition to a higher levels of reported income loss and higher medical costs, persons living with a neurological disorder also have a higher rate of working age death. For these reasons, a neurological condition can cause financial struggles and financial insecurity, both for the sufferer and their family.
Because neurological conditions and injuries often result in disability and chronic pain, neurological disorders are a common reason for long-term disability, and many sufferers rely on disability benefits through their disability insurer or Canada Pension Plan to provide income replacement. And, persons who sustained a spinal injury or traumatic brain injury in an accident caused by a negligent driver, may be entitled to damages to compensate for losses, such as pain and suffering, rehabilitation costs, and lost income.