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Does a Flu Drug Provide Help for those with Brain Injuries?

WFTV News reported today on some interesting new advances which may prove helpful for those dealing with traumatic brain injury. Research is on-going into the specific way that a traumatic injury to the head results in damage (often permanent) to the organ’s functioning. Coinciding with that research are efforts aimed at providing actual treatment (mostly drug-based) which might either stem the “wave” of damage following an injury or, one day, perhaps offer actual cures. We have a long way to go, but with so many expert minds on the task, there is reason for optimism.

The WFTV article explores how a flu drug may prove helpful in the fight against TBI damage. The story notes how Amantadine is now often-prescribed to those with various consciousness-disorders following brain injury. Amantadine was formerly a popular drug to help deal with the flu. It is not uncommon for brain injury researchers to begin modifying older medications for re-purposed use to deal with various symptoms common in TBI victims.

The Study
Amantadine has so far been used on those with very severe TBIs-either those in a vegetative state or those who are only minimally conscious. In a study on the benefit of the drug, a researcher analyzed 184 patients with severe TBI. Some patients were given a placebo and other received the amantadine over a 4 week stretch. The patients were monitored for an additional two weeks after the drugs were no longer given. Of course, this is all a standard placebo-controlled model which allows researchers to determine the effect, if any, of a particular medication on a patient-during and after the treatment.

What did they find?

In general, the researchers note that “there was a marked improvement in recovery of cognitive skills amongst the amantadine group compared to the placebo.” In addition, researchers noted that there were lingering effects even after they no longer took the drugs. While the recovery slowed when the amantadine was withdrawn, the effect of having taken it in the past “was shown to accelerate the pace of functional recovery in patients with post-traumatic disorders of consciousness.”

All of this is welcome news to those who work with those affected by brain injury. It is particularly helpful to find a medication that appears to help those with the most serious injuries. With so much still a mystery about this process, those most severely affected by TBI-like those in a vegetative state-have very little hope of recovery. But, as this study notes, even those patients may show improvement if proper therapy, medication, and treatment are provided.

The lawyers at our firm who work with clients in Chicago and throughout Illinois appreciate that, unfortunately, finances are often a barrier to full recovery following a TBI. Rehabilitation and therapy are huge components to recovery-speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and more. It is critical that families have access to resources for all of that care. When they underlying TBI was caused by negligence (like in a car accident), then the civil law may be able to provide accountability and redress so the injured can have access to all the care they need.

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