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A drunk driving accident. A fight at a bar after a night of drinking. A serious tumble at home after a few too many. Many brain injury survivors received their brain injuries while under the influence of alcohol. In fact, studies have shown that between 35% and 81% of traumatic brain injuries occur in individuals who had been drinking at the time of their injuries. Doctors and therapists routinely recommend that survivors abstain from alcohol after a brain injury but some survivors choose to ignore this advice. Drinking after a brain injury though carries with it fresh and frighteningly dangerous risk. Namely, such unwise behavior invites the post-injury seizure.
In general, brain injury survivors are more prone to developing a seizure disorder than are people without brain injuries. Depending on the severity and location of a traumatic brain injury, research shows post-traumatic brain injury seizure rates to sit somewhere between 2% and 50%. Similarly, post-stroke seizure rates range between 5% and 20%. Both of these are significantly higher than the seizure rate found in the general populace.
Unfortunately, alcohol can increase the likelihood and frequency of post-injury seizures. Clinical research has consistently shown alcohol to lower the threshold above which a seizure will occur. Alcohol also interferes with the performance of anti-seizure medication, which of course increases the risk of seizure in those who depend on its assistance. As a seizure is at base a potentially life-threatening medical issue, anything that might raise the likelihood of seizures should be avoided.
Overall, it is smart for many reasons to avoid consuming alcohol after an injury. The enhanced risk of seizure stands alone among these reasons though in both gravity and consequence, and as such should be granted special consideration.
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