Hartl, who is a co-author of the traumatic brain injury handbook, says current guidelines were based on some small studies that represented the best data available. The study he conducted is the largest to date of nutritional care and survival outcome. Hartl plans to change the guidelines in the next edition of the handbook.
Hartl explains that many factors are hard for doctors to control, like blood pressure and brain swelling. But the results of his study now show that nutrition is one important factors that is easily controllable.
He says, "It's done very easily. It doesn't require any magic bullet or any drug or any kind of new technology. It's just basically putting a feeding tube in and feeding these patients aggressively early on."
Hartl says that Turco's excellent recovery from such a severe head trauma is not very common and also credits non-medical factors, like Turco's strong personality, to his survival.
Turco is indeed resilient. He recalls the circumstances of the tragic day — February 4, 2005. He was on Madison Avenue with his fiancee Inessa Ivanov. Her ex-husband, Vadim Ivanov, confronted them and shot Turco. Ivanov then shot and killed his ex-wife and killed himself. Turco says softly, "I loved her. She was beautiful on the inside and outside."
Turco's sister, Catherine Schneck and her husband, Harold Schneck, were with him every day through his slow recovery that required multiple surgeries. Turco says he would not be alive if it weren't for their care, love and encouragement. Today they are visiting him in his Forest Hills apartment. They talk happily about their children, his two children, his four grandchildren and Inessa's son Nicolas Ivanov, who came to live with Turco after his mother died. Turco plays the guitar and sings for his sister. Laughter fills the room.
When asked how he manages to be so positive Turco says, "Life makes me happy. I just love life. I love life because look at what life, even with all the tragedy that I've gone through, look at what it's brought me."
PUBLICATION: Journal of Neurosurgery, July 2008
AUTHORS: Roger Hartl, Linda M. Gerber, Quanhong Ni and Jamshid Ghajar
RESEARCH FUNDED BY: A New York State Department of Health contract to the Brain Trauma Foundation