Booze and brain trauma

Posted by Morgan Chesky - bio | email

By Philippe Djegal - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - A new study released by the Journal of American Medical Association found that people with levels of ethanol in their blood, the substance found in alcoholic drinks, prior to suffering from traumatic head injury have a greater chance of surviving then that of someone without alcohol in their system.

"I say that I'm still recovering until the day I die," said Patti Foster.

Seven years ago Patti Foster made a trip from Jacksonville to Tyler. She was on her way to bible study. When she got into town, she stopped at a red light - a red light that would forever change her life.

"One of the eye witnesses said 'Patti it was as though the hands of God came down and suspended you in the air above the very SUV that you'd been ejected from.'"

A semi truck barreled into her causing severe trauma to her brain. She fell into a coma, but lived. Patti was sober when she suffered the injury. That counters a study that finds that up to half of hospitalized trauma patients are intoxicated when they are injured. The study also finds that those with alcohol in their bloodstream prior to the trauma are more likely to survive the incident when compared to someone suffering the same trauma sober.

"Somewhat difficult study to imbibe," said Dr. Chiagozie Nwasuruba of NeuroRestorative Specialty Services in Tyler.

"I know they're saying don't tell people to go out and drink and drive," said Jeff Stanford of NeuroRestorative Specialty Services in Tyler. "But, they're kind of saying a little bit is okay, and I just don't agree with that."

"They already have impaired judgement from brain injury," said Chiagozie Nwasuruba. "If you add alcohol to that would be quite problamatic."

The study claims that alcohol decreases the swelling of the brain. But, doctors say more research needs to be done.

"If people take from this that they should be drinking that that's the wrong message to be giving," said Dr. Christine Chavez - a neuropsychologist fellow.

The study stressed that alcohol can cause medical complications and contributes to many accidents. Doctors say the hope is that in the future ethanol can be administered to patients with brain injuries to improve their outcome.

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