Burden of Brain Disorders

It’s all about the brain

Schizophrenia, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, dementia. Whether a disease, injury or condition, they are not so different. These disorders are all marked by changes in the same organ: the brain. They are only a few examples of the hundreds of brain disorders that together have an enormous toll on the health of Ontarians.

The impact of brain disorders

Brain disorders are chronic, lifelong conditions that heavily impact individuals and their families. Strikingly, brain disorders account for roughly a third of total years lost to death and disability from all diseases globally, more than the combined number for cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The number of people living with certain brain disorders is expected to climb over the coming decades. The rising prevalence and mounting economic burden of brain disorders pose a large and growing threat to the health of Ontarians and the province’s economic prosperity.

Key impacts

  • 1 in 3 Canadians will suffer from a brain disorder in their lifetime (ref.)
  • Brain conditions are the leading cause of health disability (ref.)
  • Most brain disorders affect people regardless of race, sex, socioeconomic status, or where they live
  • Brain disorder costs include not only direct treatment costs, but also indirect costs such as unpaid caregivers, effects on family and friends, and impact on employment

A snapshot of brain disorders in Ontario

Considering both the personal and societal tolls of brain disorders, OBI and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) partnered to create a comprehensive snapshot of individual brain disorders throughout Ontario. The report encompasses 13 brain disorders and gives estimates for:

  • How many people are living with each disorder and their population data, such as age, sex, and income
  • The number of new cases identified each year
  • An overview of direct healthcare costs associated with each disorder

Explore brain disorders in Ontario online

View infographics to explore key findings on 13 brain disorders

Understanding the present for a better future

Knowing the current impacts and costs of brain disorders brings attention to the care needs of Ontarians, and can be used for better program planning, policy and decision-making. This makes the report an important step in ensuring that people receive the services and care they need. The data also serve as a benchmark to track changes in brain disorder demographics over time. 

Learn more about the report

This report is the result of a collaboration between the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI).

Using population-based health administrative databases for Ontario, the investigators developed profiles for 13 brain disorders, including benign brain tumour, primary malignant brain tumour, cerebral palsy, dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease), epilepsy, motor neuron disease, multiple sclerosis, parkinsonism (including Parkinson’s disease), schizophrenia, spina bifida, spinal cord injury, stroke and transient ischemic attack, and traumatic brain injury. 

For each brain disorder population, the report describes sociodemographic characteristics, provides estimates of prevalence and incidence over time, and presents an overview of costs associated with one year of provincial health system use.


Brain Disorders in Ontario: Prevalence, Incidence and Costs from Health Administrative Data

Opening Eyes, Opening Minds: The Ontario Burden of Mental Illness and Addictions Report