April 9, 2012

Experimental Drug May Offer Hope for Brain Injuries

by Levin & Perconti

The Detroit Free Press shared a story this weekend on a new drug that is offering hope to those who have suffered various forms of brain injuries. Our Illinois brain injury attorneys appreciate that simple aids to help spur brain recovery or prevent long-term harm have long been sought after. As more information is being uncovered about how the brain actually works, medical experts are slowly figuring out ways to translate that knowledge into prevention and curative strategies.

The article on the new drug shares the story of one young woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury in the high-profile stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair last August. The thirty-year old was waiting for the musical show to start at the fair when high winds sent the stage crashing down. A part of the stage collapsed on the woman, crushing her skull. At first the woman’s family was not sure if she would survive. Shortly after the injury, while the woman was being operated on by neurosurgeons, the woman’ family was asked if they wanted to enroll her in an experimental trial for a drug in brain injury cases.

The family agreed.

Now, eight months after the injury, the woman is still recovering. But she has come a long way from the moments after the injury when her very survival was in question. Much of her recovery may be related to the experimental drug use. She can now walk, talk, and interact with her five year old daughter. The woman, her family, and doctors all agree that the recovery has been remarkable. They believe that the drug (a sex hormone) may have played a role. However, it is too early to tell, because no one knows for sure whether the woman received the actual drug or a placebo. This double-blind method of testing the efficacy of these drugs is an important way to gather conclusive evidence about the benefits of these drug treatments.

What is the drug?

The sex hormone in this study is progesterone. It is a hormone that is produced in high levels during pregnancy. Scientist first began to consider its effect in brain injury cases when it was shown that young women recover faster than young men. Further research found that pregnant rats recovered faster than non-pregnant rats. Male rats who received the drug also experienced positive benefits.

All of this has led scientists to this human trial. So far 1,180 patients have participated, with those involved receiving the drug shortly after suffering a brain injury. Participants are given the drug within eight hours of the injury if they are in a coma. The treatments continue for five days. An earlier preliminary trial found that the drug improved morality as well as overall outcomes. If this latest trial finds that progesterone actually benefits patients it would be the first drug ever approved to treat traumatic brain injury. Approval of a TBI drug would be an incredibly beneficial step that would offer a simple way to tackle some of the permanent harm affecting brain injury victims.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Walk Draws Crowd to Raise Awareness for Traumatic Brain Injuries

Soldiers Brain Injuries from Blasts in Afghanistan Take A Toll