‘Booze therapy’ for brain injury

A dose of alcohol may be a good treatment for people with head injuries, emergency doctors suggest. Their basis for this is the discovery that people appear less likely to die following brain trauma if they have alcohol in their bloodstream. It could be that alcohol dampens the body′s inflammatory response to injury, the US team told Archives of Surgery. But they stressed that alcohol can cause medical complications and is contributory to many accidents. Experts believe the right dose of alcohol, however, stops the cascade of swelling, inflammation and further destruction of brain cells, known as secondary brain injury.

The latest work, based on more than 38,000 moderate-to-severe head trauma patients, is the largest yet to look at the effects of alcohol on brain injury survival. The researchers said: “The finding of reduced mortality in traumatic brain injury patients with pre-injury ethanol raises the intriguing possibility that administering ethanol to patients with brain injuries may improve outcome.  Additional research is warranted to investigate reasons for this association and the potential therapeutic implications.

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