Severe Brain Injury Can Be Rapidly Treated With a Flu Medicine
Researchers have successfully confirmed that a flu medicine, amantadine, is efficient in treating the brain injury.
Their findings are consistent with observational reports suggesting the acceleration of recovery in patients who are receiving amantadine and the deceleration or loss of function after treatment is discontinued.
Researchers worked on 184 patients, who were in minimal conscious state for 4-16 weeks after severe brain injury. They divided the patients in two groups, one receiving the drug, amantadine, while the other received the dummy medicine i.e. placebo, for 4 weeks. Researchers have found that the group, which received the flu drug showed rapid improvement. They were better able to follow commands and reliably saying yes or no. They were also better able to use a spoon or hairbrush.
Researchers have discovered that very few, i.e. 17% of, patients of amantadine group remain in the “vegetative state” as compared to the other group, in which 32% remain in “vegetative state”.
Researchers have also given directions for future studies. Future research should focus on determining the pathophysiological characteristics of patients who have a response to amantadine, the most effective dosage and duration of treatment and timing of its initiation, and the effectiveness of amantadine in patients with nontraumatic brain injuries.
This research has been published online in The New England Journal of Medicine.