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MAJOR INVESTMENT IN ALCOHOL RELATED BRAIN DAMAGE SERVICES

December 15, 2005 2:23 PM

15th December 2005


MAJOR INVESTMENT IN ALCOHOL RELATED BRAIN DAMAGE SERVICES

NHS Greater Glasgow and Glasgow City Council have approved a major £3 million funding package to develop a wide range of new health and social care services for people with Alcohol Related Brain Damage (ARBD).

The services, which will be led and developed by the Glasgow Addiction Services in partnership with the Glasgow Mental Health Partnership, Glasgow Homelessness Partnership and a number of voluntary providers, will radically improve access to diagnosis, treatment and support.

ARBD is the term used to describe a number of serious medical conditions where the function of the brain is impaired as a result of alcohol abuse.  These include Wernicke-Korsakoff's syndrome, alcohol related dementia, and amnesic syndrome. 

Common symptoms include short-term memory loss, confusion, problems with co-ordination, attention, planning and judgement. Changes in personality and behaviour are also common.

Unlike many other conditions, the effects of ARBD can be reversed if patients receive the right treatment and support. In order for patients to have the best chance of making a full recovery, however, this treatment has to be given within two years of their diagnosis. After this short window of opportunity, any improvement is likely to be small.

The new services, which will be developed over the next 6 months, include a new dedicated ARBD Assessment and Diagnostic Team. This multidisciplinary team will also reassess a number of patients in residential and care homes across the city who have had a previous diagnosis of ARBD but may have potential for further recovery and a return to more independent living.

A number of new specialist longer-term nursing home, supported accommodation and supported living places will also be developed in partnership with the voluntary sector. This will avoid the need for patients to be admitted to nursing homes out-with Glasgow and ensure patients have access to the specialist treatment, rehabilitation and support services they require to recover. This includes vitamin injections, support and advice to help patients maintain a healthy diet, physiotherapy treatment for muscle wastage as a result of a poor nutrition and specific activities to help patients improve their memory and develop a daily routine.


A new 8 bed ARBD Assessment and Rehabilitation Unit will also be developed over the next few years as part of the wider plans to redesign and improve inpatient addiction services on the Gartnavel Royal Site.

Dr Murray Cochrane, Consultant Psychiatrist for the new ARBD Assessment and Diagnostic Team, said: "By improving access to early diagnosis and an package of treatment we can prevent further loss of essential daily living skills and, in many cases, help patients make a full recovery."

He added: "This major investment will allow us create an innovative and comprehensive system of care for people with ARBD involving health, social care and the voluntary sector."


Notes to Editor
ARBD usually results from a combination of factors including prolonged heavy drinking, vitamin and mineral deficiencies due to poor diet, head injuries and disturbances to the blood supply to the brain. 

The exact prevalence of ARBD is not known for Glasgow, however a conservative estimate would be around 700 individuals with around 100 referrals a year for people with newly diagnosed ARBD.

The west of Scotland has the highest rate of Korsakoff's in Western Europe and the numbers affected by the disorder are on the increase.  ARBD was previously most common in males over the age of 50 and these patients were often accommodated and treated as dementia patients in care homes for older people.  However cases of ARBD are now being seen in people in their twenties or thirties, as a result of earlier onset of alcohol abuse and poor nutrition. 

Largely due to changes in drinking patterns, the prevalence of ARBD is also rising among females.  As a result of their increased vulnerability to the impact of alcohol, women often develop ARBD at a much younger age than men, with some suggestions that symptoms may occur within half the time that it does for men.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Glasgow City Council - Glasgow Addiction Services are currently in discussions with The Scottish Association for Mental Health, Penumbra, Loretto and the Mungo Foundation to develop and agree plans for the new nursing home and supported accommodation facilities.

For further information: contact Ione Campsie, Glasgow City Council Press Office on 0141 287 0910 or Elsbeth Campbell, NHS Greater Glasgow Press Office on 0141 201 4429.

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