A study published in the September issue of Archives of Surgery on data from the National Trauma Databank held implications that may inspire further research into possible healing functions of alcohol in the bloodstream of traumatic brain injury patients. The study compared and analyzed data from a database of 72,294 people. The researchers were only able to utilize 53% (38,000 people) of the data because the other 47% of patients were not tested for alcohol at the time of their injuries.
The data showed a 9.7% death rate for brain injury victims with no alcohol in their blood compared to a 7.7% death rate for brain injury patients with alcohol in their systems. The study also showed a higher incidence of complications for patients with alcohol in their blood, but less severe and faster healing injuries than those with none.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The study’s main author, Dr. Ali Salim, reported that other smaller human studies showed that alcohol has a diminishing effect on the body’s production of catecholamines, which produce adrenaline in the body. The scientists speculated that using ethanol in small doses may prove effective at reducing the severity of traumatic brain injuries.
Other scientists warn against jumping to conclusions just yet, and think that it it too soon to judge whether or not alcohol will prove to be a safe and effective part of a brain injury treatment plan. Dr, Homer C. N. Tien of the University of Toronto, Dr. M. Sean Grady from the University of Pennsylvania, and even Dr. Ali Salim, the study’s author all cautioned against assuming too much from the results of the study prematurely. They made the point that the study was on administrative, and not clinical, data.
The three doctors all suggested that further research and clinical studies would be necessary before considering the use of alcohol as a part of a treatment plan for traumatic brain injury patients. It is encouraging that studies such as this one are conducted, and that scientists at medical centers and universities around the globe continue to seek better and more effective treatments for traumatic brain injury.
(pic from drugs.ie)