Fact Sheet - Mapping Connections: An Understanding of Neurological Conditions in Canada

Canada's National Population Health Study of Neurological Conditions was initiated in 2009 with a $15 million investment from the Government of Canada.

The study, led by the Public Health Agency of Canada and Neurological Health Charities Canada, in collaboration with Health Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, was comprised of 13 research projects, three national surveys, seven microsimulation models and the addition of four neurological conditions (epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, parkinsonism, Alzheimer's disease and other dementias) to the Public Health Agency of Canada's Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System.

The collaboration among health charities, scientific experts and surveillance experts resulted in high-quality science, efficient implementation and relevance to stakeholders.

This is most comprehensive study of neurological conditions ever to be conducted in Canada and included 14 neurological conditions:

  • Alzheimer's disease and other dementias
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease)
  • Brain tumour
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Dystonia
  • Epilepsy
  • Huntington's disease
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Neurotrauma (traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries)
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Spina bifida
  • Tourette syndrome

In addition, stroke, migraine, Rett syndrome and spinal cord tumour were added to some components of the study.

These neurological conditions were examined across four main focus areas:

  • The impacts on affected individuals, their families, caregivers and communities;
  • The use of health services, gaps in services, and recommended improvements;
  • The scope in Canada (prevalence, incidence and comorbidities);
  • The risk factors for the development and progression of these conditions.

Major Findings

  • An estimated 3.6 million Canadians are affected by neurological conditions.
  • Over the next 20 years, Canada will see a significant increase in the number of people diagnosed with a neurological condition as a result of an aging population, particularly Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, as well as Parkinson's disease.
  • Although the increase in the number of Canadians living with a neurological condition will be felt most by those age 65 years and older, neurological conditions are not exclusive to an older population. Some of the studied conditions (like brain or spinal cord tumours and injuries, dystonia, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and migraine), first impact Canadians in their late 20s and 30s.
  • Neurological conditions account for more than half of Canadians requiring continuing care, such as those using home care programs or living in a long-term care facility.
  • The proportion of Canadians affected with a neurological condition reporting mood or anxiety disorders is twice as high as in the general population.
  • The impact of neurological conditions on work productivity is significant, with a prevalence of permanent unemployment among those with a neurological condition 12 times higher than in the general population.
  • Over the next 20 years, it is projected that hospitalizations will remain the largest contributor to total direct health care costs for many neurological conditions except for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, where facilities-based long-term care will remain the largest contributor.


The study findings will be used by governments and organizations to inform programs and develop policies related to neurological conditions.

The Public Health Agency of Canada's Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System will continue to track trends of neurological conditions in the Canadian population on an ongoing basis.

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