The New England Journal of Medicine recently published research that showed a medication popularly used to treat influenza and Parkinson’s Disease can also provide significant improvement for patients with traumatic brain injury. The study showed that when Amantadine was administered to patients in minimally responsive or persistent vegetative states, they improved much more quickly and dramatically than otherwise.
While this medication has been used for many years to treat brain trauma, this is the first study to show significant analysis of the beneficial results. Researchers importantly point out that while these findings are encouraging and a step in the right direction, there are still many outstanding questions and issues.
Questions such as whether or not Amantadine will help patients with less significant injury or what the long-term results are still remain. Researchers continue to work with the medication to provide hope to patients and families with devastating prognoses.
Amantadine is just one example of medication that was originally designed to treat one illness and has been modified to treat other ailments. Many neurologists are frustrated at the continued lack of pharmacological interventions when it comes to brain injury and find they have been forced to used medications that they hope would help, but have no scientific backing. While hunches and common sense can often lead to dramatic scientific discoveries, actual physical data is important for patient care.
One popular use for Amantadine in the near future may be treating United States troops that have sustained traumatic brain injury. It is hoped that the 6,000 cases that have occurred since 2000 can be treated more quickly and efficiently.