March 15, 2012
Raj Narayan, MD
In a recent study published in the The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that Amantadine, a drug typically used to treat the flu and Parkinson’s disease, appears to speed recovery in traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients.
It is an important study because it demonstrated for the first time an improvement in the level of consciousness in a severely injured group of patients. The study was scientifically well-designed and was conducted in several major TBI rehabilitation centers.
Amantadine has been around for many years and is generally very safe. It may not improve ultimate outcome as compared to a placebo, but even if the effect of the drug is temporary, it is still very valuable. Patients with a depressed level of consciousness are more prone to various complications and anything we can do to wake them up sooner is very helpful. The encouragement that increased responsiveness gives to the family and treating team cannot be underestimated. Furthermore, this success will help stimulate trials with other drugs or interventions that could be even more effective. The researchers in this study are to be congratulated for completing such a large and complex undertaking.
For more information on traumatic brain injury and its treatments, please visit the Traumatic Brain Injury Center at the Cushing Neuroscience Institute.
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