07 Apr 2GB Radio Interview : Health Matters – 17 August 2015
And now on nights with Steve Price it’s time for TJB health matters.Thanks to Sydney Adventist Hospital Health Care, Education, and Research, yours for life.
Steve Price: And on this Monday night we are talking about brain injury awareness week which is in fact on this week. This week of August we got a very special guest in the studio from the sister hospital to the SAN and that is Dr. Sergides who is at the Dalcross Adventist Hospital.
Dr. thanks for coming in.
Dr Yanni Sergides: Thank you for having me.
Steve Price: I have a friend of mine and she thinks that she has, is developing memory loss and her brain function is not optimal. Now, she is a bit of panic merchant, works hard, she is an executive of a company but she says: “increasingly I’m feeling like I’m forgetting things that I shouldn’t be forgetting.” Should she be worried?
Dr Yanni Sergides: Look, I think Steve it depends a little bit on how bad those symptoms are and her age, you know.
Steve Price: Mid 40’s.
Dr Yanni Sergides: Mid 40’s that is a little bit young to be sort of forgetting things regularly in a major way but you know even at that age we start to experience some memory issues, our memory is not quite as sharp as it used to be. We start to you know, lose our way finding words, its normal but if it’s happening more and more and its progressive then.
I mean she does have to be worried but it is reasonable for her to go and see a GP.
Steve Price: She got to the point where she went for brain scan and it was all clear.
Dr Yanni Sergides: She had a brain scan.
Steve Price: And it sort of cleared her mind a little bit, I mean it was obviously something that she was worried about. For all those people that are listening to us, there are things that can influence that, I mean if you are a heavy drinker (she’s not), if you a heavy drinker that can influence your brain function can’t it?
Dr Yanni Sergides: Certainly I mean alcohol have a profound effect on brain function and memory and you know if can become extremely severe if can become a pathological process which is irreversible.
And people with advanced alcohol psychosis are completely debilitated; their memory can be just a few seconds.
Steve Price: Heavy drinkers who have a big night out and can’t remember the next day, some of the things that have happened to them, is that normal? Or is that a warning that you perhaps been drinking were you ort not to be.
Dr Yanni Sergides: Look it can be, I mean alcohol has an amnesic effort that is one of the reasons people like it. you know it gives them a gate pass to go and do what they like, you know going out on a heavy binge drink and not remember what happened the night before is very common.
I don’t think there is anything to worry about but if you are doing that regularly obviously you are drinking too much and you need to address that.
Steve Price: One of the interesting static that you provided with me, I think this is brain injury awareness week, 1.6 million Australians affected with brain injury in each year. Now that can be I guess from concussions, sport, motor accidents a whole range of injuries but that’s more than people diagnosed with breast cancer and yet we don’t talk as much about it.
Dr Yanni Sergides: Yeah you right it is very common depending on what statics you look at, it is between 700 hundred thousand and 1.6 million in Australians, yeah. Roughly 1 in 20 of the population have or are living with brain injury and that could mean a head injury but probably the most common reason to suffer a brain injury is a stroke.
And in the category of stroke, ischemia which means the lack of blood supply is a common thing and it has a profound effect on people’s lives and their families and their ability to works. And you are right we don’t see it has much of a talking point as things like breast cancer for example.
Steve Price: Stroke is a common occurrence but I don’t think many of us understand why would there be suddenly an interruption to the blood flow to the brain and how destructive that could be?
Dr Yanni Sergides: It could be extremely destructive, it can be fatal of course, and it could leave a permanent neurological deficit. In other words permanent weakness or problem speaking or understanding or seeing and there are a number of reasons that it might happen. It’s not the same reason in everybody.
Probably the most common is thrombus which is a bit of blood cloth thrown off from usually the heart but it can also be thrown the blood vessels in the neck or it can come with because of a blockage in the blood vessel within the brain itself or it can be the result of an abnormal heart rate, an arrhythmia.
Steve Price: You can be an absolutely normal person and that can happen.
Dr Yanni Sergides: Certainly it can be but of course if you not healthy and you smoke and you don’t look after yourself and you eat the wrong foods and your cholesterol is high and the risks of that happening is higher.
Steve Price: How much injury happens to a brain when somebody is punched and they hit the ground without restraining their hit onto the footpath? I know we’ve had a number of these which have included deaths, a friend of mine, the famous cricketer Hooks died from basically one punch recently where his head hit the footpath. What happens to the brain in that serious solid concussion?
Dr Yanni Sergides: Well, look of course you make a number of points in just that short statement. When a person is hit and then hits that ground, the severity can be fatal but it can be relatively milder.
It depends on a number of things, if the patient if the person was punched and hit the ground on an uncontrolled manner particularly if there was alcohol on board it probably the impact on the ground, that creates more damage than the punch itself.It is sort of 2 concussions in one as it were.
If it supposedly a minor thing the person wasn’t drunk and they were fully aware that they hit their head on the ground then they going to get away with it, a mild concussion maybe.
Steve Price: What happens inside the skull to the brain to same someone involved in a fight in a boxer for example?
Dr Yanni Sergides: I mean it’s a one punch type phenomena can be serious and it can be fatal if it causes bleeding in or around the brain. Blood cloths could develop and push the brain and kill people but more common are minor injuries and they are probably under-reported.
Like boxers, people on the sports field whose playing rugby or Aussie rules get their head injuries quite frequently; don’t go report them to hospital. And what can happen is the brain is shook around with, a bit like the skull.
Yeah bounced around like the yolk of an egg hitting the shell of an egg and that can cause damage neurons, the brain cells they and that can cause all sorts of problems.
Steve Price: If someone was trained in neuroscience like you are, would they ever go and work as a boxer?
Dr Yanni Sergides: I got colleagues who enjoy boxing as a bit of a sport but I won’t do it in a serious way.
Steve Price: Wear a helmet.
Dr Yanni Sergides: Wear a helmet and then be careful not to be hit on the head.
Steve Price: Can a brain regenerate itself, to you?
Dr Yanni Sergides: To a point where they become increasing aware that certain brain cells which can reproduce them, the cell that is involved in smell, their Olfactory bulb cells, the cells involved in memory in the parietal lobe which can actually make more of themselves. But on the whole the cells that you are born with are the ones you got, you got to look after them, and you only tend to lose them.
Steve Price: Are you an oar of the brain?
Dr Yanni Sergides: Yeah, completely in oar of it. Yes, there is a magnificent thing and every time I see it all brown an then I’m all just conscious that I’m operating on somebodies personality here and there humanity.
Steve Price: So amazing, isn’t It.? Unlike any other doing open heart surgery must be extraordinary or helping somebody that’s got liver cancer or, but to actually see a brain, touch a brain and involve yourself in the brain must be quite a spiritual thing almost.
Dr Yanni Sergides: It is quite emotional the first few times you do it for sure but when you actually see the brain it doesn’t pump like the heart does, it kind of just do its pulse state very gently. And the consistency of it is like kind of toothpaste.
When you think of seeing it microscopically in other words with our human eye from the surgeon’s point of view and it got that consistency but it got that so highly organised, so highly compartmentalised and it’s got its microarchitecture and its structure and it is so complexed and the two don’t quite fit together.
Steve Price: There is a lot of myth to it isn’t there? When you have these arguments left brain, right brain, intelligence here, physical activity there.
Dr Yanni Sergides: That’s certainly not myth it’s a part organized structure and part.
Steve Price: So you know what you are touching?
Dr Yanni Sergides: Absolutely.
Steve Price: And potentially what would happen if something went wrong, you interfering with somebodies function of some sort?
Dr Yanni Sergides: For sure otherwise it would all be just guesswork, neuro antinomy, in other words, the geography of the brain which has been something which has been developed over many years.
In the old days it uses to practising on criminals, you know doing surgery and see what happens. Nowadays it is now involving techniques like functional MRI’s so we can see what part of the brains do what? So when we are operating we know exactly, won’t say exactly we got a good idea of what we are doing and what is likely to happen.
Steve Price: Funny question to finish. Is it every likely that you would do a brain transplant?
Dr Yanni Sergides: There was something about this is the press recently, a neurosurgeon in Europe who wanted to do a head transplant.
Steve Price: I read that.
Dr Yanni Sergides: You could certainly take the head of someone else and stitch it on someone else.
Steve Price: Sorry I asked.
Dr Yanni Sergides: Whether it would work or not, I don’t know.
Steve Price: I guess you got a whole lot of ethical questions but if you take the ethics out of it, is it a some point , is it going to be medically possible to transplant a brain to another person?
Dr Yanni Sergides: I think it would be foolish of any doctor you ask a question that starts, if would it be possible one day if for anything to say, no. anything maybe possible one day but I think before we get to the stage where we trying to do brain transplant, the role of genetic engineering and other developments in science technology to make that need a new point.
Steve Price: Well, I find what you guys do all across the SAN and your work at the Dalcross just extremely extraordinary, you are as talented as people. To work with the brain must just, for you must be incredible.
Dr Yanni Sergides: Thank you Steve, I don’t think I could do what you do either.
Steve Price: That’s good I think. Dr. Sergides from the Dalcross Adventist Hospital.