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BRAIN INJURY EXPERT WARNS OF HAZARDS OF HOLIDAY DRINKING AND DRIVING

 CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa., Dec. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- In spite of repeated warnings against drinking and driving, thousands of people will drive home from parties this holiday season after drinking, and die in automobile accidents.
 Thousands more will survive accidents caused by drunk drivers and be forced to live with the catastrophic aftermath of brain injury, noted David Strauss, Ph.D., vice president of clinical services at ReMed Recovery Care Centers in Conshohocken. ReMed is Pennsylvania's largest provider of post-acute brain injury rehabilitation services.
 People attending office holiday parties are at high risk because they are exposed to a lot of free-flowing alcohol and usually are driving home from the party after a long day at work, Strauss said. They are often unwinding from a stressful workday and their defenses are down.
 "The common belief used to be that people with acquired brain injuries were impaired forever and unable to improve, however great strides have been made in treating survivors of brain injury," said Strauss. "The effects of brain injury are still devastating. Brain injury doesn't heal and it doesn't go away. Survivors are left with impaired thinking processes, memory deficits and problems with communication, walking and motor functions. They are often unable to control their impulses and undergo personality changes -- their entire lives are changed forever."
 Brain injury can be prevented with a little planning and care. Strauss offers a few basic facts and recommendations for the season:
 (1) One drink causes some degree of impairment.
 (2) If you're going to drink, don't drive.
 (3) Plan ahead. Make arrangements to have a designated driver. If you have no designated driver, call a cab.
 (4) Don't make your decisions after you start drinking, because your thinking will be clouded.
 Brain Injury Statistics:
 -- There are 2 million brain injuries per year in the United States.
 -- 700,000 of those require long-term rehabilitation (from one year to a lifetime).
 -- 50 to 80 percent are alcohol related.
 -- At least half involve a drunk driver where the injured person is either the driver, a passenger or a person hit by drunk driver.
 -- Males ages 15 to 24 are at the highest risk for brain injuries; females of the same age group are rapidly gaining on them.
 "The message may be the same every year," said Strauss, "but every year many fail to heed it. If you are in an accident involving a drunk driver, your life may be changed forever -- if you survive."
 /delval/
 -0- 12/13/93
 /CONTACT: Steve Brown or Leah Smith of Heron & Young, 215-660-9280, for ReMed Recovery Care Centers/


CO: ReMed Recovery Care Centers ST: Pennsylvania IN: HEA SU:

JO-MP -- PH021 -- 3270 12/13/93 15:26 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 13, 1993
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