Neurotrauma in Indigenous Populations of Canada-Challenges and Opportunities at a Global Level: A Scoping Review

World Neurosurg. 2022 Aug 2;S1878-8750(22)01059-2. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2022.07.108. Online ahead of print.


Background: Neurotrauma accounts for over 24,000 hospitalizations annually in Canada and has a significant impact in many developed countries. Among those affected, indigenous peoples are disproportionately impacted. The present scoping review explores the factors contributing to neurotrauma in indigenous populations and potential strategies to address this health care issue at a global level.

Methods: A search was performed in Medline (1974-2021) and Embase (1946-2021) to identify studies pertaining to neurotrauma in indigenous populations of Canada. Search terms included 'Aboriginal', 'First Nation', 'Indigenous', 'traumatic brain injury', and 'traumatic spine injury'. Thematic analysis was then used to synthesize the information collected. A gray literature search was also performed.

Results: The original literature search yielded 1609 articles, with 17 selected for the scoping review. Through thematic analysis, the factors contributing to neurotrauma burden in indigenous populations of Canada were summarized into 3 themes: inadequate resources available, social problems in indigenous communities, and challenges within the health care system. The potential strategies to address neurotrauma were also summarized into 3 themes: system-level changes to Canadian health care, community-based initiatives, and culturally appropriate solutions. The gray literature search revealed a lack of government reports on the topic and notable advocacy work from community organizations.

Conclusions: Systems-level interventions guided by indigenous community members will help to address the disparities that indigenous peoples face in the care and rehabilitation of neurotrauma. This study will inform further research of culturally appropriate approaches to reduce neurotrauma among indigenous peoples at a global level.

Keywords: Canada; Indigenous; Neurotrauma; Social determinants of health; Spinal cord injury; Traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

  • Review