A Maori health researcher says diet, lifestyle, alcohol and drug abuse, and car accidents are all behind the high incidence of brain and head injuries among tangata whenua.
Margaret Dudley of Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri and Ngati Kahu specialises in neuro-psychology at AUT University in Auckland and is embarking on a research project to improve rehabilitation outcomes for Maori patients following a stroke or head injury.
According to Health Research Council figures, Maori men aged from 20 to 24 have a 60% higher incident rate of head injuries than the rest of the population.
Dr Dudley says her studies will take that information into account.
She says one of the main reasons is due to car accidents, but it also relates to alcohol and drug related harm.
Dr Dudley says all of these contributing factors put Maori more at risk from suffering from brain damage than any other ethnic group in New Zealand.
She says she also wants to educate other clinical psychologists about how to deal with Maori patients in a more culturally appropriate manner to help close the disparity gap in brain injury recoveries between Maori and Pakeha.