As a San Francisco Brain Injury Attorney, I am always interested in new studies on brain injury recovery research. I also try to help my brain injured clients by providing current information on brain injury topics.
Recently I learned that researchers report to have found the first treatment to speed recovery from severe brain injuries caused by falls and car crashes. The remedy is a cheap flu medicine,amantadine, an inexpensive generic, whose side benefits were discovered accidentally decades ago in the treatment of Parkinson’s symptoms–found to have an effect on the brain’s dopamine system, affecting movement and alertness.
The recent research results indicate a speedier recovery by patients receiving the drug compared to those who did not. After the four week post-injury phase–critical to brain healing–more people taking amantadine could respond accurately to rhetorical questions, follow commands or use simple motor skills such as using a spoon or hairbrush. Moreover, far fewer patients who took amantadine remained as “vegetables”. The study was done in the U.S., Denmark and Germany and involved 184 severely disabled patients, about 36 years old on average.
“This drug moved the needle in terms of speeding patient recovery, and that’s not been shown before,” said neuropsychologist Joseph Giacino of Boston’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, co-leader of the study. He added, “It really does provide hope for a population that is viewed in many places as hopeless.”
I am happy to report that this study validates the treatment many doctors have been trying for years. With big studies such as this one, we are a bit closer to helping heal those with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), suffered by an estimated 1.7 million Americans. This federally funded study may mark hope for a new beginning, or at least move the ball forward for head injured survivors.
In regard to minor traumatic brain injury (MTBI), questions still remain as to whether or not less severely injured people might benefit from amantadine.
I wonder if this drug might actually be effective beyond the study results and whether there is also hope that it may improve brain injured patients’ long-term outcome.
About 52,000 people with brain injuries die each year and 275,000 are hospitalized, many with persistent, debilitating injuries, according to government figures.
About the author: Claude Wyle is an aggressive advocate for San Francisco Bay Area head trauma survivors. Claude has decades of experience representing those harmed by the wrongful conduct of others, and, as a San Francisco brain injury lawyer, has fought to protect the rights of head injury survivors throughout his legal career.